I thought about saving this post for the conclusion of all the "here's 8000 pics of guate!" posts but I think it's my starter instead.
At the children's hospital one afternoon, Madi (Melissa's daughter) was running around. Russ had taken Eliot back to the hotel to take a nap and we’d already fed the kids lunch. Earlier that day I’d seen Madi yell at a little special needs boy for taking her toy away, getting into a little tug-o-war for something. Going from crib to crib, she stopped me and asked me to pick her up to see a crying little boy. She immediately grabbed the handle that is used to release and open the crib. It made me laugh that she knew exactly how these cribs worked, knowing it had taken my team a couple days to figure it out. As soon as I pulled the side down she began to rub the little boy’s head and console him. Once he settled, she was off to hop on a tricycle and play chase with one of the other little guys.
This hospital is easily one of the most disturbing places I’ve ever been. It’s a lot to handle, a lot to process. Many of these “kids” that we loved on are older than they look, some are even my age. The majority can’t feed themselves and all of them wear a makeshift diaper, no matter the age. The ratio of patients to staff is unbalanced and unfair to both parties. Most people I bring here need to debrief after what they’ve seen there***
And yet, this 4 year old acted like this was just another Thursday afternoon. She had no inhibitions with these kids. She laughed with them, comforted them and even fought with them just like she would any other playmate.
I shook my head and thought “kudos to Mel’s parenting, although if we lived here, surely we’d be the same way. In fact, she’s lucky to have such an amazing place to serve so handy.”
Because there’s no special needs kids in St. Louis?
And as one of my girls said, “hey, don’t you live a few blocks away from a children’s hospital?”
At this rate, Eliot will grow up to think (as so many of us do) that serving is for big elaborate trips. In order to really do it right, you have to have a passport.
Why have I not thought of all this before now? As I forced self-reflection on my girls before we returned to the States, I wondered what my take-home would be from a trip like this? Was I really hoping that Eliot would grow comfortable with people that are different just by chance? Was I hoping to instill a servants heart in him by taking a once a year experience? This, just like every aspect of parenting, has to be intentional.
I hesitated in posting this entry until I’d already logged a few hours somewhere local but I need accountability. I need to put myself out there in hopes that as life happens, I’ll be obedient to what I’ve learned.
So, it's out there now. Published.
****By the way, don't mis-hear me. We LOVE LOVE LOVE visiting this hospital. We admire the staff for their hard work and we couldn't love those kids any more.