This semester, I have been going more regularly to the welfare center in Hengyang. The center is divided into two parts. One side is run by the Chinese government. On the other side, the Chinese government has agreed to allow a non-profit group based out of the UK come in and take over operations of this part of the center. The 2 sides are noticeably different. Previously, I had never volunteered at the government side until this semester. Since starting to volunteer on the government side, I have seen some really difficult things that I don't really know how to process. I wish I could show you so you too could look into their sad eyes, see their weak little bodies, and help me know how to be a light in this place.
The other day, I took a Chinese sister with me into the room to help feed the kids and play with them. When we left, she looked pretty gloomy and asked quietly, “Why would God allow people to remain in conditions like that?” To this question, I also don’t know. I stumbled around for some deep theological answer about suffering and pain in the world. “It’s a result of sin in this world. Because of sin, disease and defects enter the world. Because of sin, we have the natural disasters that wipe out entire villages and islands.” As the words were leaving my mouth, they tasted sour, and I also felt dissatisfied with this answer. I still wrestle with how a God who provides for the widow and the orphans seems to be overlooking whole orphanage rooms around the world. I feel a little bit hopeless for these kids.
But I also know that despite the fact that most of these kids have been abandoned, they do know love in that they know how to show it. The other day when I went in to visit, one mentally alert girl with cerebral palsy gave me a huge grin and with crippled arms reached out to pull me in for a hug. And then, she carefully turned my head and gave me a kiss on the ear. I think my eyes might have been as bright as Christmas lights to receive a kiss from this sweet girl who spends most of her time sitting on a wood board or the toilet chair.
Only a few feet away from this lovely girl roams another child whom I find more difficult to love. This girl, Lulu, unlike all the other kids in the room has a strong and healthy body. But she also suffers from autism. If you were to visit, you might see Lulu walking around the different rooms holding a bag of big lego blocks or softly moaning (crying) when she wants something and doesn’t get it. This is Lulu on a good day. But when Lulu doesn’t get enough attention or gets bored, or who knows why, she will hurt the other kids (many of whom cannot use their arms or legs) by pushing over the little car-seat like chairs where these kids sit for the entire day. It’s a little too terrible to recount exactly here, but you can imagine what kind of injury these little weak kids incur on behalf of Lulu’s tantrums. After one of these incidents the other day, I held Lulu’s arms and told her that we loved her but that she couldn’t do that to the other kids. She screamed and bit her wrist. I held on tighter to her arms to prevent her from biting. While I was holding her arms, I looked directly into her eyes and was met with something very strange. A challenge of the spirits if you will.
As you’re reading this, you might be wondering where the people are who take care of these kids. They are also in the room, usually about 2 or 3 of them. They are responsible for 20 kids whom they stay with the entire month, day and night, except for a 2 day rest once every month. Needless to say, they do not have enough man power or emotional energy to spend on disciplining kids like Lulu or nurturing the other kids. So, most of the time, you might find the care-takers sitting off away from the kids making knitting house shoes. It might be easy to judge these care-takers, but I wonder if I would even be sane anymore if I had to work as long of hours as they do and see as much heart ache as they have. These observations have just been the initial ones. There are many more things to express and to process, but it’s hard to get them all digested for obvious reasons. Thoughts?