Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

"I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Alejandro.  We call him Alejo for short.  He has been on this earth for just four precious years, and yet one look at his solemn face tells you has has seen more in those 48 months than most of us will ever see in our lifetime.  In fact, he has seen more than anyone should ever see.  Ever.

Most of the time, he walks around with an expression similar to the one pictured above.  He is quiet.  He prefers to be held, but will not use his words to tell you that. This means you must be alert.  Aware. You must anticipate his needs because he no longer believes that if he asks for them, they will be met.

Just a few days ago, I was running around with some of the kids during recreation time and discovered Alejo standing next to one of the casitas crying.  I knelt down and asked him what was wrong and he silently pointed to a massive, flaring bug bite on his arm.  "Me pica" he said simply.  It itches.

He did not seek anyone out for comfort.  He did not wail loudly to get attention.  He simply found a quiet space to cry alone.  

I scooped him up in my arms and carried him to the house, where I proceeded to show him my own picadas and offer a tiny bit of empathy.  I can't even begin to relate to the trauma that haunts his tender heart, but bug bites?  Those I understand.

As we were snuggling in our chair, he began fiddling with my camera and I asked if he wanted to take a picture.  He nodded and we took the one at the beginning of this post.  I flipped the camera around and showed it to him, carefully watching as he observed his own face reflected on the screen.  He paused for a minute and then said quietly, "otra vez" (again).

I was happy to oblige.  Imagine my surprise when I clicked to display the second image and discovered this:
Resiliency has never shined brighter than in the faces of these children.

I won't lie and say these kids are always easy to love.  They aren't.  But not for the reasons you might think.  Sure they all have their own special quirks and misbehaviors and annoyances.  But the real difficulty comes when one minute they are running around laughing and filled with joy, and the next you get punched in the gut with their background story.  All of the sudden, you can never look at them the same.  Your heart has just broken, and love has rushed in to fill the cracks.  It all happens so fast.

I frequently refer to the kids as mi amor, which translates to my love.  On Monday, Miguel called me on it.  He asked how both Jorge and himself could be my loves.  I explained to him that there is a special place in my heart for every child in this orphanage.  He pondered this for a minute, and then held up his hands in the shape of a heart and stretched it out huge and said, "Tía, your heart must look like THIS!"
God's heart for these children is so much bigger still, and I am so blessed to be on the front lines, witnessing His magnificent work.


Samantha said…
I love this post Natalie! I know we never really knew each other in school, but I just wanted to tell you that you are such an inspiration. You are so genuine and sincere and it's incredibly refreshing! You are SO doing the right thing being at that orphanage (if you have ever questioned it, don't!) the Lord is blessing you and it's so very obvious to see.

This has been on my heart for some time, but I thought this was a good time to tell you. :)

Keep up the wonderful work!
it's just "M" said…
This post is so perfectly eloquent and beautiful. You said so many things that speak directly to my heart and what I have seen working with foster kids. I have been praying for you and have loved seeing you pictures and posts. I can only begin to understand the things that God is doing in your heart as you serve these kids. And even more so what He is doing in their lives.