One Life At a Time
Today I was asked what my job was, and I explained that I help orphaned children. The response was one that I get often: “Oh, it must feel wonderful to help kids like that.” I smiled and said I agreed even while thinking that it definitely isn’t “wonderful” to have to turn children away who are critically ill or to fall in love with a child only to get the call that, despite your efforts, she has passed away in an orphanage.
There are now over 175 volunteers who give of their time each day to help run LWB’s programs. There aren’t enough words to tell them how grateful I am for their help. They are moms and dads and social workers and grandparents, all of whom closely watch over the kids in our programs. They are people whose hearts are often broken when a child in their program becomes sick or needs help that isn’t available or sadly isn’t chosen for adoption. Sometimes they call me and tell me they don’t know if they can do the work anymore because it is so much harder than expected and because their own hearts HURT when a child is hurting as well.
As I wrote in our blog last week, I was feeling exactly that way when I first came back from the JCICS meeting in New York. Hearing about the needs of orphaned children worldwide IS overwhelming. It can be so disheartening to look at the BIG picture of two million orphaned children living in institutions worldwide and wonder if you are even making the tiniest of differences by having ten kids in foster care here or 20 kids in a school program there.
But then — and I love when this happens — I got an email with photos of a little girl whose adoption had been disrupted in the past. Our team of volunteers fought and advocated for her to have another chance, and now she is HOME with a family who will love her forever. And I got a call from an adoptive family whose little girl’s surgery was done through LWB, and the mom wanted me to know that their lives would not be the same without her. And the news that Suzy, an incredibly sweet and talented girl who is blind – Suzy in our Zhaotong foster care program — had been chosen by a family for adoption. And then the joyous news that an orphanage that has not been open to outside help had agreed to send us several of their failure-to-thrive babies to care for…three more precious lives saved.
It is far too easy at times to feel overwhelmed by the need. To let our frustrations in not being able to help every child color our feelings and make us feel like our efforts aren’t big enough or that our $10 donation won’t really make a difference in the world. But the truth is that every act of kindness makes a difference. It’s been raining this week in Oklahoma, and today for a brief moment the clouds parted and the most beautiful ray of sunshine shone through. At that moment it hit me so clearly that working with vulnerable children can be just like that vast sky. It’s easy to just see the clouds of need and feel we can’t make a “real” difference. But then, when we realize that we have helped one precious child completely change his or her life, well, that’s the sweetest ray of light there is.
This week, I was blessed to speak with a man who was born in China in the 1930s to American parents who were working there all those years ago. As we got ready to hang up the phone, he said to me, “Don’t ever grow tired of trying to help the kids.” What important words those are for all of us. To everyone who supports our work, who gives of their time, who covers these beautiful children in prayers, I send my heartfelt thanks. None of your efforts are ever wasted if even one more child in this world is given a reason to hope.