Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Give Thanks With A Greatful Heart"

The van pulls up to a small gravel driveway. After about a minute, a small boy (maybe 8 years old) comes and pulls open the large green gate and allows us to enter. The van, which is holding my team members and myself, pulls up and parks inside what looks to be an outside covered basketball court. There isn’t an actual entryway, so we go over a large curb and begin to park there. There’s not much to see. One other van is in parked in that area, and there are 2 buildings beside us, but not much else. Then, suddenly, children start pouring out and surrounding the van. Before we know it, there are about 20 kids all around the van yelling to us and waving. Even though their hands are there to help us out, it is so difficult with the mob of kids. All I can hear is “Hello ma’am” and “what is your name?”. I look around, trying to distinguish faces in the crowd. There is someone I am looking for, a reason my heart has been drawn to this place….
Two weeks earlier, we had the Lord’s Supper at church, and ended the service with a meal and fellowship. During the beginning of service about 8-10 children stepped in a little bit late and, along with the children that were already there, filled up the first two rows. As the pastor was speaking (in English), my eyes were continually drawn to these children. For the most part they sat very quietly, glancing around only occasionally with a look of curiosity. I could tell they probably did not speak much English and yet they sat very well without being told. There were no adults around as far as I could see, but there were so many children! At some point, the Pastor informed us that these children were with Haley’s House, an orphanage just down the street and my heart immediately went out to them. After the service, I went up to meet them and they seemed so excited by the attention they stayed at my side for a while. I asked them their names and ages, and found out that (as I thought) they did not speak much English at all. One little girl seemed very taken with me and walked with me throughout the room. At the time, I could not remember her name. I felt bad, but with so many children around it was very difficult. Finally, we stepped outside and went to find a table to eat at. This little girl stayed right by my side. She took my hand and only sat down when I assured her I would be sitting by her side. During lunch, I got her to write down her name in Khmer and in English. She then asked me to write my name on her hand. When it was time to go, she kissed my cheek and gave me a huge hug. It was so hard to let go, this sweet little girl had come into my life just an hour or so before and yet I felt like she was taking a piece of my heart with her when she left. This little 9 year old girl, Sreni, was the reason for my desire to visit Haley’s House.

As I was trying to get off the bus, I felt a little hand grab mine. I glanced down and saw the face I had been looking for. Little Sreni was waiting for me. She had waited, while all the other teachers got off the van. She waited just for me, and she had a question. As I smiled down at her, she pointed to her hand (where I had written my name 2 weeks earlier) and asked something to the effect of “do you remember me?”. Of course I remembered her! How could I forget? The rest of the day she clung to me. She held my hand and stood by my side at all times. When it was time to go, I almost cried. I wanted to be there, with little Sreni and I didn’t want to leave.

Since that time, we have visited Haley’s House Orphanage 2 more times. Each time, we walk away with different stories to tell. Each time I go, Sreni waits for me and stays by my side. How I wish I could take this little girl home! She has an older sister at the orphanage named Srey Roath (srey or sre means 'girl'), and another older sister who is out of the orphanage. Today some of the older girls were talking to Sreni and I noticed (as I have since the last time we were there) that they kept saying ‘baby’ around her. And today I finally understood what they were saying….they call her my baby. Oh how I wish that was true! It took everything within me to hold back the flood of tears that wanted to fall when I heard that. Especially when the pastor came up and told me their story:

Years ago, the girls lived with their mother. During that time their mom got very sick. Their dad was apparently never in the picture and so the girls cared for their mother. They all lived near a jungle area and so the oldest would go out and pick fruits and things to take care of their mom and to feed the rest of the family. When Sreni was 6, her sister Srey Roath was 12 and the oldest was 14, their mother passed away. The girls lived on their own for 4 months until someone informed Haley’s House who promptly took them in. For at least 4 months they lived alone in the world, with no one but each other to look after them. Because they were caring for their mother, none of them had ever attended school. I was told that when the girls first arrived at Haley’s House and began attending school there, they cried. They did not understand what was going on because they had never been in that situation before.Sreni never smiled, and as you can see…that has changed. The girls lives have been turned around, but by no means is it finished. With an age difference of 6 years, Sreni and Srenoiy are on the same level in school. The orphanage fights to give them the education they deserve, but they can not do it alone! I was told by the pastor today, that they are looking for sponsors for these children. Sponsors who are able to donate $25 a month to one of the 25 children at Haley’s House. This $25 a month will provide food, clothing and education to the children and will help them to reach their dreams. It will also enable Haley’s House to possibly take in more children in the future and do more of the positive programs they are doing around the community. Every week so many people are ministered to through these children. These children are raised in a strong Christian atmosphere, and aren’t afraid to share the gospel. They may not have much, but they are not afraid to proclaim His name!
I have caught a glimpse of Heaven by seeing these children and now know what it looks like to have the faith of a child.


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