I've decided not to post the few things that I had written. I feel it's best as a conversation between God and me. The subjects were marriage, submission, obedience, and guidance. Since we all have a different reality, I felt as though it would have been perceived as judgmental for me to "force" my idea of marriage and the rest on anyone else. It wasn't written to be judgmental because it was truely my own path but it really is best that it just be a chit-chat with My Father and me!
Now, everyone can go back to their lives! I know that the curiosity was just eating you all alive!!!!!!!
I do want to share with you a blog post from an amazing woman that has chosen to stay single and be married to God (but different than an ordained religious). She spends her life going where God calls her and this time she is in Tanzania working at an orphanage. Her posts are always so heartfelt and full of discipline and obedience, but, mostly, they are full of love. It's as though the Lord talks to me through her. When I look around at piles of clothes and layers of dust and start to feel like a failure, I read her posts and I stop to be thankful that my children are tucked away after having been loved and kissed and hugged and bathed. So many children don't have that and Mary is there with just her 2 hands loving on so many babies and toddlers. Amazing!
A Day in the Life in the Orphanage
A day in the life….
This is my normal daily routine in the mornings here at the orphanage in Moshi (Tanzania):
4:30-4:45am –I wake up before the alarm goes off at 5am. I usually pray a Chaplet and then really ‘get up’ at 5am. After a trip to the bathroom and taking my malaria pills, I begin morning prayer in my room.
6:00am –I begin to get ready for the day.
6:30am –Holy Mass begins
7:00am –breakfast consisting of coffee and bread and butter (or with a little ‘jam’ for those who want –the ingredients on the jar of jam says: ‘mixed fruit jam.’ What’s in it? )
7:45am –I finish eating breakfast and I return to my room to get what I need for the morning. I hear the babies crying and so I try to hurry.
8:00am –It is raining today, so the children are inside the ‘play room’ instead of outside. I go to check on the older ones. I open the door and they all come running –biting and hitting each other to be the first one close. I try to correct them as I can. My Swahili is coming along –slowly, although I should try to be patient with myself, since I’ve only been here a week. I hug and kiss and bless each one. One wants a book read, another wants me to sing and he begins to clap, a third is hording the blocks in the corner and takes advantage of the chaos to steal a few more pieces from the hands of the younger ones –more crying ensues. I wipe tears. So many tears. I’ve never seen so many tears as I have here. Sometimes I feel like my entire existence is simply to be Jesus’ little rag wiping their tears. I try to greet and engage each child with something to play, giving a bit more attention to those who are especially craving it this morning. The floor is wet with urine –the students ‘mop’ it up as they can, but all it looks to me like they do is spread it everywhere. Those toys are now wet. I wish the children would be organized better here. I see one child hit another to steal his toy, but I cannot interfere because five others are clinging so close to my legs that I cannot walk. I call the ‘victim’ over to comfort him and then I simply close my eyes and pray. After 30 minutes I must go –my babies are still crying and I know they are all wet and will be hungry soon. If only the students would love and care for them as real mothers –but really how can I expect that of them –they are young and doing the best as they know how. But my heart aches from all the cries and tears. Jesus, send the angels again today to love and reach where my hands simply cannot.
8:30 am –I enter the baby room. The babies stop crying for a moment or two to smile at me. I begin to sing our songs and some clap, others ‘dance’ by shaking their hands and heads or jumping up and down. Most are dry this morning (or at least their rubber pants are doing the job). One gets an idea –he starts to cry to get my attention. I go to him to kiss his forehead and another realizes what has happened –he tries to cry too. I go over and speak to him. Suddenly the room is a chorus of cries once more. All my fault –cries caused by my love. It is true that when you ignore the babies they don’t cry so much and become content –but they also close off emotionally. I can’t do that. I simply make sure that each is loved. I pick up Fredrick –he gets to be my ‘favorite’ for a while this morning. He’s been so sick with malaria and I have to give priority to those who feel the worst. Its amazing how jealous even little ones a few months old can become when they see another child held or smiled at –I try to spread the love. I begin to change them in turn –along with their sheets. When the students come in to help, I leave them to the work as I hear the two littlest ones screeching in the next room. As the older children are changed, they are laid on a blanket spread out on the floor to play. James follows me to the door of the newborn room, crying for me to pick him up –but I already changed and loved him, and I know that little Brian and Miriam have been crying. I have to leave him, but the 20 minutes I am gone he sits inconsolable by the door crying his soul out and banging on the door. Once the two are changed I take the two little ones out with me to the big room and sit on a child’s chair (I cannot sit on the floor with the babies because 1-year-old Jonah thinks it is funny to ‘poke’ them) so that at least James can stand with his head on my lap to cry. It does the trick and he stops and begins to play around me. And the rest of the babies notice –they all crawl over to me and soon there is a baby brawl for my attention. All of them who can crawl and pull themselves up (about 6 of them) are fighting for my lap. I try to make room for them all somehow while holding the two newborns. Where did the student helpers go? Maybe the babies are crying, but at least they are close to me and I can sing. I remembered something my spiritual father told me once –‘You can’t take the cross from all people, but you can climb on it and just be with them in Love while they are there’. That is what I did this morning with my babies –at least I was with them. Finally about 25 minutes a sister comes in by chance –she laughs at me surrounded by a chorus of so many babies grappling for my love and she helps me rearrange them and find something to make them happy. I take the opportunity to get up and put the little ones down –one of the three-month-olds is screaming in his crib. He has spit up and is laying on his tummy on sheets wet from both his diaper and his mouth. As I go to change his clothes he smiles as if to say ‘thank you,’ but James (angry that I moved from my chair close to him) is following at my feet screaming for me to pick him up. I have to love the neediest –I cannot always care for the same one –they all deserve to be dry, to be fed, to be hugged, to be smiled at –but I do try to give extra love to those who are begging. The little ones start to wail again as the students bring in the food for the others. I go to re-arrange the little ones and come out to 5 screaming babies again. The students go about their work, feeding the one in front of them –but they are all hungry and crying. So although I can only feed one, I try to console and love them all in some way. I take James to feed and I struggle to calm him down enough to eat. Although he stops wailing, tears are still streaming down his cheeks and they fall into the cup of tea I try to give him to drink. I think of Scripture where it says ‘their tears are mixed with their food day and night.’ While I feed him, I pull the other 5 over to lean on my lap and cry as I work –Miriam cries again. I go to bring her and as I hold her with my left hand, feeding James with my right and comforting Janet, Jonas, Joyce, Irene and Omary with my hand between spoonfuls. I begin to sing and say, ‘sh, sh, sh’ to Fredrick and Ester yelling in the corner. They stop when they hears my voice and Ester smiles. What a gift to my heart aching to console them all. I notice that the ones crying have very runny noses. But I have nothing to wipe them but my skirt –so 1,2,3,4,5 –all in my apron. There is no way I could stand up to get a cloth with them all on top of me like this. Its times like these having a clone or two would be very helpful. Jonas walks away from me, leaving me a bit more free to feed James –but he goes right for the dirty diapers again. He’s got that ‘trouble antenna’ and always finds things to do that he shouldn’t. He really should be out with the toddlers (especially since he steals the little babies’ toys), but they were waiting for his twin sister to become more steady on her feet. They like to move twins together –but he really needs to leave and she still needs ‘baby love.’ While all this is going on, suddenly the toddlers outside the window see me –they all somehow know that I love them, so they prefer me to others. Three of the two-year-olds come running to the window to knock and yell to me. I try to give them attention amongst doing all the rest.
11:20 –Finally all the children are fed and they should go down for naps. A few are complaining, but I know they are dry, fed and have each been held and loved by me this morning. As I go to leave to take my break I hear Brian crying again. That baby really can’t stand to be wet –which is hard because with cloth diapers and no rubber pants, you constantly need to keep changing him. I change him and see he is hungry. I ‘cheat’ –they are supposed to be on a strict schedule, but he is so little and he kept falling asleep eating in the morning. I take his unfinished bottle and let him quickly eat so that at least I can lay him down half-contented so that I can change Miriam again.
11:50 -It is quiet for a moment and I try again to run out the door before someone cries or sees me. Its one thing when I leave my nieces and nephews (even if they are crying) I know that their mothers will comfort them. But it is so hard when I have to rip someone from me crying and the students aren’t as comforting as a mother –but I simply cannot spend 24/7 with the same child. Every morning when 2 ½ year-old Noela (she was born on Christmas) sees me she runs to cling to me. She never speaks –I’ve never heard her open her mouth –but when I have to leave to go to the babies she cries as her heart is broken. I am very happy that she has been chosen for adoption soon. That little girl really needs love! I try to love powerfully enough in the short time I am there to fill their hearts ‘enough’ –its my little 5 loaves and 3 fish –Jesus will have to multiply and make it ‘enough’ for their hearts’ needs. I hope my prayer and His Love can fill in where my bodily presence is insufficient. And I pray that my example can transform the way the other ‘mamas’ and students interact with the children. I have already noticed a change, so it gives me hope. They change their wet diapers and clothes more often, sing to them more often, smile more often. Can little ol’ me change a Tanzanian orphanage in 4 short weeks? It is my goal –to fill them with Jesus’ Love –so that when I leave His Love can continue to bear fruit. But in order to do this, I have to have time with Him in prayer. It is His Love I must share with them. Not my own –for mine could never heal hearts, change minds, lift spirits as His can. Lord, give me the strength and time to pray more in the midst of this. I can usually never leave until I know that no one is crying –and then I run out quickly because if I hear a cry I have to come back in to fix their need. I guess it’s the heart of a mother –it seems selfish to me to go and drink tea or pray if I leave a baby crying and wet or lonely. I am the only mom they have. I have to give my all. But I also have to spend some time with Jesus –I have to have His Love in order to give His Love. And the needs of these children are so great that simply human love is not enough –they need Divine Love. They have been so rejected, abandoned and wounded by these experiences. Oh Mary, be their Mother. Joseph, stand watch over their cribs at night. Angels, sing to them for me. I can’t believe it is only 12noon.
Lunch is at 12:15 –lunch and dinner here are almost the exact same every day some combination of the following: plain rice, potatoes or pasta; ‘green vegatables’ (a form of spinach mixture); a form of beans; and sometimes tomatoes or cucumbers. Once or twice a week they have a meet sauce. Usually they have fruit on the table for one meal –either a banana, orange, passion fruit, watermelon or ‘oxen heart’ (I’ve never heard of it or seen it before, but it is sweet and good).
1:00pm –I head back to my room for a few minutes before I go over to the babies again. Between 1:15-2:00 I am back with the children.
After lunch we repeat the morning again for the afternoon –hopefully I can take 5 of the babies out for a walk in the sunshine –that usually helps their moods. I wrap one on me, squish a few in a stroller and let the ones who can walk hold on to the stroller. This afternoon the German sister could not stay with me, but the babies were all crying to go outside. She left me with one wrapped on me, four doubled up in strollers, another in my hands and two toddling around. Then the little boys saw me out the windows as they were getting dressed (a wedding party was coming to visit and bring gifts), so they grabbed their shoes and I found myself surrounded by 5 more little boys wanting help with their shoes and hugs for their hearts. The only way I can reach all of them is to entertain and love the by singing. Little Polycarp (who is not little at all) is jealous for my lap –which makes me happy because he was abandoned, no one chooses him for adoption, he does not speak and since he was a little baby he cries all the time. He is one of my special projects here. But this afternoon he doesn’t understand that he can’t get closer to me than where he is already on my lap –so he keeps pushing against me to get closer and closer. After 45 minutes I’m happy when the students appear again. That was a lot of work (8 babies and 5 toddler boys) for one set of eyes, hands and heart. By 4pm I will have to try to head back to my room to handwash some clothes –a daily chore –and at least wipe-down a little before prayer. I am so dirty everyday –what I would give for a real shower and washing machine! But once again today I don’t get out until 5pm –Miriam was screaming and I won’t leave a screaming baby. When the ‘mama’ finally comes in with her bottle (and I rejoice that I can be free to go) my heart sinks as she brings two chairs with her and says, ‘You do Miriam, and I’ll do Brian.’ I guess it is only fair that they both eat at once. So once she is fed, changed again for the night and comfortable, I tiptoe out so that the others don’t see me.
5:30-6pm -I head to the chapel for evening prayers.
Dinner at 7pm.
Back to my room by 8pm to finish laundry, ‘shower’ with my bucket of water, pray, etc. and hopefully find myself in bed before 9:30. Just a bit of my life here.