There aren’t really enough words to describe what we have experienced but I have been asked numerous times so this is my futile attempt to do that.
My senses were overloaded and even for a preacher girl like me the need, the smell, the open sewers leave me without a cognitive thought. There are some things about Nicaragua that change a person. Even after living in Puerto Rico I was not prepared for the political unrest in the country. The light poles are painted with colors to show their support for the different “parties” of government. They hang flags on their homes, much like us, but it is to show their political views…there is very little unity in Nicaragua. The one thing that I learned quickly…we all say that we are proud to be Americans. We are so selfish, so prideful…they quickly remind me that we are North Americans but that they too are Americans. They don’t like us… if you don’t know the story of the Iran Contra Affair they you wouldn’t know that the USA launched an attack against Nicaragua. We gringos stick out like a sore thumb. We travel with armed drivers everywhere we go. The compound where we sleep there is a guard 24/7.
There is a city dump in Managua. Five thousand people make up a community there. They actually live in the dump…and their children are so full of parasites that they come out of their scalps. There are parents of young girls in the dump that sell their daughters for first pick at the trash for food. As I sit here typing at my brand new laptop I realize how blessed I am and am humbled in a way that I can’t begin to describe.
We spent most of our time at the orphanage. These kids are given a decent life. They are fed, they are schooled…when groups come in like us, the go to the movies, the go to the park…but they are always full of fear. We took a small boy Justin with us to the movies…he was still in diapers so I am guessing less than 3 years old. I don’t know that he had ever been to the movies, he sat and ate his popcorn and drank his Pepsi and then fell asleep in the a/c of the theater. These kids don’t know anything of air conditioning…or the pleasures of fountain drinks. Everything is a new experience for them.
Leyli found Julia on our first visit to the orphanage. She clung to her and they played from the first moment. I feel in love with a young baby girl named Guadeloupe and spent time holding her and rocking her. Ande was building with the men, and the boys were with their friends. I had no intention of bringing any of these children home. I went with a pretty closed mind. In my own selfishness, I had it in my mind that I was halfway through with homeschooling Julia, I didn’t realize that I had been counting down the days to my freedom. But about day 7, I shut down. I was ready to come home, I was tired of loving on these kids, I was tired of the smells, and my stomach was aching with diarrhea. I realized that I was building some pretty big fences. I had my defenses up. I could paint, I could work with the mother of the orphanage for admin stuff, I could work mindlessly through a list of things to do but I couldn’t look at the kids without crying. That was the first night that Ande mentioned bringing Leyli home with us to the states.
Ande talked to Chris the mother of the orphanage about Leyli, she told him that she had a brother there as well and that if they were ever adopted out that they would not be separated. Ande is in his wisdom kept feeding me this information to which I really didn’t reply. It is my heart to do women’s ministry…I want to travel, I want to do conferences…I can’t do that toting kids around. He asked me to pray about it. I prayed that God would change his heart. The next conversation that we had about it he asked me if I was willing to do it. Was I willing to lay it all down for these two…
Leyli and Darwin’s biological mother is a prostitute. She has had 6 children that Chris and Tim are aware of. Leyli is number 4 and Darwin is 5…Mom just had another one. Leyli and Darwin have been at the center since November. Their oldest sister Jenna is 11 and she is a foster child of Chris and Tim. The children have to be declared abandoned before they can be put up for adoption. Jenna, has been fostered for 4 years but the mom will not sign the papers for her to be adopted. If these children can’t be adopted that means when they turn 18 that one of their only options will be to return to their mother. They are an impoverished people and they don’t have the choices that we do here in the USA. The thought of Leyli having to live like that….
Yes, I was willing to lay it all down for them. Leyli is the only girl in her age group; the others are still babies and still have lots of opportunities to be adopted. It changed the trip for us. We began to spend as much as we could with Leyli and with little Darwin. We began to ask questions, lots of questions about their past. We began to tell them that we loved them, we began to hold them every chance we had. I know that we did other things but I don’t remember anything but their little faces.
The last day that we were there…there was another team there and they were taking the older kids to the zoo. It was going to be the last chance we had to spend with Leyli. Ande and I had to press in to see her. The other group was trying to block her and we just were persistent. That last half an hour…my heart was flooded with a love for this child. Before they pulled out I told her “I love you” and she said “I love you”. Then I backed up and made room for Ande. I told him to tell her I love you. He said I don’t know how. I told him just say it in English…he did and again she repeated it back to him. That is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. I spent the rest of our time there coloring her a picture, because if I talked to anyone I was going to lose it. Te Amo…We love you, I wrote it at the bottom of the picture and left it on her bed.
Darwin sang a funny song and was making himself laugh. Ande got it all on video…almost like Darwin knew that things had changed for him. He has laughter in his young eyes. I look forward to him riding in Ande’s truck and hanging with Dad. I can’t think about it without my eyes tearing up. Even now Ande is reading about adoption and about the Nicaraguan government. We are committed.
Later in the evening, after we knew that they would be home from the zoo…Ande and Julia went back to the center to see Leyli. She was sleeping but they were allowed to wake her up and give her the purse, the socks and the hairbows that Ande had bought for his little girl. She saw them and immediately hugged Julia. Then she pulled the picture out that I had colored for her from under her pillow. I hate to think of her knowing that we were leaving…I hate to think of her thoughts the next day when we didn’t come to her.
We are already pricing plane tickets. It doesn’t appear that we can get back to our children before January. We pray for them constantly…we will begin to send money for them. We don’t know what God has in store for us, but whether we bring them here…or we have to go there to be with them…we will do whatever it takes. The biggest prayer request that we have right now, is that the children could be declared abandoned. Because no matter how prepared we get...if they are not adoptable the only option that we have is to move down there to foster them.