I thought a bit about the post I published the other day. The one that seemed to answer all the questions about my trip to Zambia. But I saved one question for a post all its own because it means something so powerful to my heart. What about MY kids? What do they think? How can I leave them?
One of the very first things that struck me about searching through Habitat’s site for MY trip was the idea that I could participate in an Orphans and Vulnerable Children Project – a project dedicated solely to reconnecting families, building homes for the parentless and finding ways to form a community around those left behind. And so began the ache deep behind my heart.
Each day I wake up to children who are so incredibly loved. Who have a mother and father and family members from here and all over who would give anything for them. Who clutch them at holidays and truly treasure them for the gifts they are. My children will never want for love, not the familial kind anyway. They will never know what it feels like to be left, to be alone, to be without. And for that I am forever grateful.
But for all that I know my children have, a part of me aches for the children who do not know such family. Who do not wake up daily without knowing if they will be hugged that day, told they’re loved that day. And my heart is broken for the orphans of this world. Everywhere. Because I have seen firsthand just how much these little men in my life dote on their father, how they treasure his embrace, wrestles and tickles.
I talked to Charlie earlier in the week about why I was leaving. He’s an adult trapped in a five-year-old’s body and so I explained to him that I’d be helping build a home for a family that didn’t have one and the importance of giving of ourselves, even when it requires sacrifice to our family and comfort. And tonight, as I cradled him, I asked him if I could still go to Africa, that I was hesitant to go and he looked into my eyes and wondered, “But who will build their house?”
Now certainly I won’t go alone, but the thought that Charlie already understands about just what kind of impact one person can have is deeply profound and moving to me. I am stretching myself and my family and this life because I know that there is so much work to be done. I want to stretch and grow and learn so that I can teach my children how to do the same.
I want to stretch my arms so wide to embrace those who may not know a mother’s love the way my children do. And in the process, stretch my heart. Because while I’m away loving the children of this world, I know just how taken care of my own crew will be.