Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Eternally Engraved

You’re our last hope. Is it not true that in You the orphan finds mercy? Hosea 14:3

While China’s policy of one child per family effectively slowed the population growth in a country of over 1.3 billion; it has left thousands of female infants abandoned to an increasingly overcrowded institutional system. Ninety-five percent of the healthy children living in Chinese orphanages are girls, a number ranging over several hundred thousand.

“I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back” John 14:18

Prayers prevailed against bureaucratic challenges, allowing us to revisit the orphanage in Taian for the third consecutive year. After arriving, no one in our party was without a personal escort, encircled on both sides by enthusiastic children. For the first time the director and his staff allowed us to visit the baby room, a surprising display of trust. The nursery area was not unlike others I have experienced - an open room with too many cribs lined against the walls, too few caregivers and even fewer toys. “CARE EE & Company” blew bazillions of bubbles, tickled fingers and toes, and spoke the international babyspeak of “googoos and gagas”.
Afterwards, our performance for the older children included tricks, storytelling, and the special treat of taking a Polaroid picture of them with the clown! As we prepared to leave, the director of the orphanage thanked us for our continued remembrance of the children, the photos and gifts of toys and school supplies. He then presented CARE EE with a beautifully engraved jade plaque commemorating our visit. It is a day I will never forget.
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands." Isaiah 49:15-16

Far away places have become part of the geography of my heart. One such place internally-eternally mapped for me, is the orphanage in Taian. Joy paved the road, prayer made a path where there was none, and I journey there frequently looking at the smiling images of the children who call it home.