This week we met with the first girl who is (hopefully) going to be moving in with us so that she (hopefully) can avoid the nasty things waiting for her if she doesn't.
John has been finding my uncharacteristic silence on this matter both frustrating and confusing, it is not often that I process things inside my skull. Generally I get a bit shouty/ excited/ cross and this is ok because he has been known to claim to have married me 'because she doesn't know when to shut up and I hate carrying conversations'.
So this new thoughtful me has thrown him a little bit, he's been muttering and grumbling and prodding but I have found myself unable to engage in a conversation about this, I keep avoiding the question and wandering off in silence.
Why? I think it's because I've finally encountered something so precious and so fragile and so divine that to use words, even carefully, is to risk tainting it. This 'transition home for girls' is a piece of treasure that belongs nestled in my heart and it's not for grabby hands or silly soundbytes.
He asked me to write about it.
I can do that.
We were meant to be doing this T home for boys - they're apparently easier to help, less complicated and they can't get pregnant. But John read a prayer diary all about things happening to women in the world - we keep it in our loo and he has often emerged weeping, which is alarming until he explains that he was finding out about dowry murders or porn or something else that completely explains the tears.
So he started to feel like maybe God was pushing him to ask if we could do the home for girls, and our lovely Andrew bossman very kindly said maybe. So we waited not knowing if we were right or wrong or what needed to happen but content to dwell with good leaders and our good God and see what came of all this praying.
The day we got back from Croatia, Andrew picked us up and mentioned that some friends of ours knew a couple of girls who needed somewhere to go. John mentioned that when he was at one of the orphanages a few months ago he felt God light his heart up over one particular girl - she said hi and something in him leapt with the idea that maybe she could come live with us. He joked that it would be fun if one of the girls was this girl.
So that's the fun story - the less fun story is what has transpired for this girl in the past and the tragedy that would be her future. I don't want to tell you her details because they're hers to tell or to keep secret, her dignity is hers and I will not violate that.
I mainly want to try to explain to you why this opportunity is so beautiful, so cherished that I find myself unable to speak about it.
Imagine that you were rejected - you didn't get the cuddles or the rules or the protection needed from day one. That your brain never got the chance to form the connections it was meant to form - that the science of your growth got twisted from what was meant to be because you never got read to or played with or rocked to sleep. That your heart has always, always known pain. Imagine that you are vulnerable and tiny and you have never known a safe person's arms to nestle in, that the people who were trusted with your life saw it as nothing important and imagine not ever knowing that you are safe.
Because if you're a kid in an orphanage then you're there because your parents are dead or because your parents didn't know how to love you before themselves.
The little every day things of being a child are so, so developmentally important and if you don't get given that then life starts hard and becomes impossible.
The buzzwords might help me convey this: suicide, sexual abuse, physical abuse, substance misuse, unemployment, addictions, HIV. Nothing that these children deserve but that's what they get served up by this life.
10% of kids from Ukrainian orphanages kill themselves within the first two years of being kicked out into the world.
65% of the girls end up working in the sex industry.
This isn't ok, engaging with this isn't optional, I don't care what you believe or what your politics are or how busy your life is - if children going through this 'life' abused and neglected and addicted and suicidal doesn't move you in some way then I suggest not at all humbly that you go and get. on. your. knees and ask Him to take your heart and smash it to pieces and wring it out and make it worth something.
We should be doing more.
So in this darkness, this conveyor belt of failure comes an opportunity.
A chance to be accepted into a family, to find what you're good at and to chase that path and see where it goes. To wear clothes that you chose, to eat the food that you chose, to read the books that you chose, to stand on your own feet and hold your own life in your own hands. To reject despair, to begin to dream and to see dreams come true, to travel and to fly and to experience more than you could ever have conceived of.
To go from doubt to security,
to be given worth,
to be prized,
to be waved off everyday and welcomed home every evening,
to have arguments,
to forgive and be forgiven and be held and to know that those arms aren't going anywhere.
It's the gospel.
Transition Home = this is who our God is, he who our help comes from, he who swoops in with his armies, his might, his hands that make stars like it's nothing and he who stands over you and says 'mine'.
So yes, it's precious, because it's him. Because he stands over orphans and says 'MINE'.
He who saves.
I want to be part of that, and the scary things like what if it doesn't work or what if I cock it up or we get taken out by how hard it's going to be, well they kind of don't matter right now standing looking down at the wave we're about to surf that could kill us but we can't go back now because we would die inside if we did. Because this is the gospel, a reflection, a mirror, an example of Jesus on the cross. A metaphor that's being played out in real time. With lives at stake.
So yes, LORD, wring my heart and smash it to pieces and I know it's going to hurt but please may this be salvation for children. For your sake. Amen.