Sometimes I forget that life really is about love. It’s about loving others and about being loved. Anything and everything else is a bonus. Actually, love itself is a bonus.
I just returned from my fifth trip to the Sunflower Orphanage in Peru. As usual, it was an amazing trip with new experiences, but this trip was especially sweet to me. If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’m going to digress from my usual dating posting, but I hope you’ll find it applies.
The Sunflower is home to 37 beautiful children. The 37th child (I’ll call her Liz), a 9 year old darling girl, arrived while I was there. Her mother and a social worker dropped Liz off with a simple explanation that she couldn’t afford her. This child was beautiful. She was also in shock. She was in a strange place, with strange people and her mother had just abandoned her.
I talked to her for a bit. What’s your name, how old are you, what’s your favorite food? And then we took her into our donations room where we gave her a fleece comfort quilt in her favorite color, yellow. We let her pick out a new pink backpack. We gave her a school kit, a hygiene kit with a cool Disney toothbrush, new clothes and pajamas and a cute stuffed animal. We gave her lots of hugs and we talked to her as if she were the most important child in the world.
Here’s the amazing stuff. Within 1 minute of meeting little Liz, I loved her. I struggled to hold back the tears as I watched her wide, scared eyes take everything in. I did everything I could to let her know she was safe. I wanted to give her the best fleece blanket, the best stuffed animal, the best backpack, even the best ball point pen. I hugged her a dozen times. I loved her, but most importantly I wanted her to feel loved.
Liz arrived while the rest of the children were at school but it wasn’t long before they got home. We introduced her to the other children and asked a few of the older girls to help and befriend her. I was a proud mama as I watched our kids take her by the hand and take her on a tour. It wasn’t long before they were running around playing. By the end of the day, you couldn’t pick out the new girl from the crowd. She fit in and she was one of us.
In contrast to that sad but beautiful experience with Liz, we had a disturbing experience being stuck in a two-day general strike that pretty much paralyzed the city we were in. The people were frustrated with the government and placed barricades all along the main (and only) road through the Sacred Valley for a couple of days. There was no transportation other than walking. People were angry and were complaining about the economic conditions. Many were drunk. I felt for the people. Life dealt them a difficult card.
Now that I’m back in the real world, I’ve thought several times about the experience of welcoming Liz into our home. And I’ve also thought about the strike. It is a stark contrast to go from one memory to the other. I still feel the pain of the people and their difficult lives. I understand their valid complaints and their justified frustrations. And then I fondly remember the sweet experience that began when a frightened 9 year old walked through our front gate and into my heart.
That’s my challenge. While I’m completely aware that my world and my degree of frustrations in no way compare with third-world poverty, I have from time to time felt the desire to go on strike. I know I’ve complained. I’ve probably thrown in a few barricades along the way.
But now I’m trying to remember that life’s about love. I’m trying to develop the kind of love that I had for Liz – the kind where I want others to have the best comfort quilt. I’m trying to remember that’s what life is about – it’s about loving and being loved.
By the way, if you’re interested, you can take a look at the Sunflower and our kids at www.southerncrosshumanitarian.org.