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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Was Your Day?

I have had the privilege of visiting Romania a couple of times in the past few years with our church. We have taken a group of high school students for 9-10 days at a time and partnered with a wonderful group called Pathway to Joy in order to help build churches in Gypsy villages and care for abandoned babies in the children's hospital. My role for the past couple of years has been to coordinate taking groups of students to the hospital to care for the babies. These babies range in age from 6 months to 5 years. After 5 years, they are forced to leave the hospital for the comfortable abode of the state-run orphanage which houses them until they are 22. Yes, you read that correctly. There in the orphanage are children as young as 4 or 5 all the way up to 22. After 22, they are expected to head out on their own...

Back to the hospital. So we take a group of teens to the hospital in the mornings and they break up in to groups that disperse to the various wards in order to hold, feed and rock infants that otherwise only get very brief outings from the confines of their cribs. These children are the very definition of Failure To Thrive. There is very little crying as you walk down the halls because the babies have learned that there is little use is trying. No one is coming.

It is always amazing to watch the teens bond with the children and sit, literally for hours on end, in an incredibly hot (it's a cultural thing) hospital room holding these children because they know it may be a very long time before anyone else comes along to pay the babies any attention.

The most difficult part for me was the second year I returned to the hospital. I was excited as we entered the hospital to see some improvements and upgrades that had been done. They were installing new windows in place of, well, mostly just panes of glass assuming they weren't missing altogether. And they had a new floor cleaning machine, like what you see being pushed around at Home Depot. All that changed when I arrived on the 9th floor where the children with special needs were housed. I was anxious to see new faces and my heart literally sank when I walked into the room and there, in those dirty, rusty cribs, lay many of the very same babies we had held the year before.

An entire year had gone by. I had gone out to dinner with my family, we had played in the driveway, gone to the pool in the summer, been to the beach, walked around the block a hundred times. But these babies were still lying in their cribs, just as they were when I had left the year before. Many had been there long before that.

I think about these babies when I'm having a "bad day". When my favorite t.v. show is a rerun, I try to remember these babies lying in their cribs looking at the ceiling, wondering if anyone is coming for them. Wondering if they will be picked up out of their crib even for a few minutes. I think about that and then my bad day is not quite so bad anymore.


Joshua Goodling said...

Yes - that kind of puts things in perspective. We are SO blessed! But, we're not "So Blessed" to keep everything....we're So Blessed so that we can be a Blessing to others! Good story - I may have to borrow it sometime! :-)

Nancy said...

These are the stories that break my heart. And they should. They should break my heart and them make me do something. Thanks for sharing.

Jennie said...

It's just sad and wrong that Romania is closed to international adoption. As long as a country can't take care of their own children, they should be open to international adoptions (sadly, there were about 50 children in the U.S. who were adopted OUT of the country last year).
Dan, I don't know how you can go and then leave without smuggling one of those precious children of God home with you in your suitcase.