I’m home. And I’ve been awake since 3am thanks to jet lag. I gave up trying to fall back to sleep at 4:30am, and finally got out of bed. With the children from the orphanage taking over my dreams, and their precious little faces dancing across my closed eyelids, I knew it was a lost cause. While everyone else on this side of the world rests, I am wrestling with what I experienced and captured through my camera while I was gone.
Thinking of the children and the reality of their daily lives brings me to my knees. While I can drink coffee without boiling water first, and write a blog post without a sometimes-working, buggy VPN, the children are most likely finishing up dinner halfway across the world. While I will soon hug and kiss my beloved little ones good morning, and tell them how much I love them, the children will prepare for bedtime with no mama and baba to tuck them in and tell them how much they are adored and so very worthy. While they sleep, my day will carry on in the peace and warm serenity of my home and church, surrounded by my treasured family and friends. And some variation of my comfortable life will play out every day while the children in the orphanage remain inexplicably grateful and joyful and happy, despite all that they’re missing.
The incredible disparity of our worlds is almost too much to fathom.
I was invited into a community of His people that I didn’t know before. A community that’s real, even though it’s easy to ignore because it seems so distant and far away. A small community of His children who are hurting and longing for mamas and babas of their very own. A community of His nannies who give their very best every day to help the children live and grow. But even their very best simply isn’t enough because there are too many children and not enough of them. Because nothing replaces the love and belonging of a family.
I think of precious Wayland and the way the Father literally put him in front of me, despite my ability to remain emotionally unattached behind my lens. My job as photographer makes it easy to observe from a distance. It’s a role that I’m comfortable playing because it allows me to stay focused and complete the task at hand. It’s the role that I signed up for when I said yes to this trip – to document our time and bring home pictures of waiting children to help them find families.
Though I wanted to be open to what the Father had waiting for me during this trip, I did not expect to fall as hard as I did. He wrecked me. Not just for Wayland, but for all of the children. For the nannies. Although I was the designated photographer on the trip, the Father used the short time in mighty ways to show me why I was really on that trip. Despite myself, I got to see a small glimpse of His love for all of His children. To understand what’s truly important. Not medical diagnoses or adoption files or questioning whether a nanny is feeding children the right way.
But people. Loving people is what’s important. No matter their status or special need. Orphan, nanny, or otherwise. That’s what He wanted me to see. Because the Father wants all of us to be adopted as His sons and daughters. And He’ll use anyone to accomplish His mission, if we just humbly offer ourselves to be available.
As Mike Foster wrote in his book, People of the Second Chance, “Bring what you have, no matter what it looks like. His standards are embarrassingly low, and he will work with everything you’re willing to put into his hands. You are imperfect, but you can be perfectly loved and perfectly used by him.” (pg. 30) I’m resting in that truth this morning. As I reflect on this past week and try my hardest to make good on my promise to Wayland, my prayer is that He perfectly loves and uses me and all of my team members, despite our imperfectness.