The Watoto African Children’s Choir came to town last night and afterwards we were a host family for two boys and their chaperon. After the boys and their guardian stashed their backpacks in the room we had prepared for them, we gathered in the kitchen to find out who was hungry.
Immediately, the polite young men indicated they would love to have some “fruits” and I began to cut oranges for them as they sat at the bar watching me. Edward, age 7 was effervescent. Stephen, age 11 was sweet and shy. As they ate we talked about the differences between American, Ugandan and Haitian food. When I told them my daughter from Haiti loved Mangoes their eyes sparkled.
“Do you have mangoes in Uganda?” I asked. They eagerly nodded their heads in affirmation. Then, very quietly Stephen shared with us the very best thing about food at his orphanage in Uganda.
“We get chicken on Sundays.”
Ahh. Chicken on Sundays. I assured him I understood just how wonderful that was as my mind filled with memory. When my older daughter came home from Haiti, it was obvious that to have a chicken leg was an incredible luxury. The entire family watched in amazement as she cleaned the bone thoroughly, leaving no trace of meat, or even sinew behind. When no more could be gleaned she would take the bone and dip it in the sauce. Last of all, she broke the bone in two in order to extract the marrow. Her new siblings where horrified by this.
“Mom! She is eating the BONE!!!!”
Gently, I took the bone from her and placed a new chicken leg on her plate.
“You don’t have to do that,” I said. “There is more…”
I don’t think I will ever forget the wonder expressed on her face that there was more.
I never want my children to reach the point they take for granted that they always have enough to eat but I have to admit that I am very thankful my daughter has had her fill for so long that she has forgotten that desperate urgency true hunger burns into the human soul. She no longer snaps the bone in two. Sometimes, she even leaves some meat behind.
When we received the referral of our daughters, I wrote a poem describing my feelings about them entitled, Enough. That was so long ago. When I read back over the poem now, I find there truth mixed with naivety. The reality is that the road to healing for a child who has been traumatized by loss, need, and injury is long. It is a job only God can accomplish. I am just so thankful He allows me to be a part of it and while I many not ever be enough, His resources are without limit.
Therein lies hope. Sweet, sure, eternal hope.