The Bethany House children overflow with love to give. They come from unhappy, often tragic home environments. Some have lost their parents. Some have been removed from their parents. Some have been abandoned by their parents.
But each child yearns to love and be loved.
My heart overflows for them. Spending time with the Bethany House kids during our time here with my daughter Steph in South Africa has been a tremendous blessing. I love seeing how much they love Steph. The moment they see her, the kids chant her name and run to her for hugs. We’ve been privileged to benefit from the hug-fest ourselves. My oldest daughter Carol and I have been squeezed and fought over. We have chocolate fingerprints on our clothes. The kids run for our laps each time we sit down. I’ve learned to carry two kids at a time, as others wrap themselves around my legs. Though we’ve only been here a short time, we already have favorites. We can’t help ourselves.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will forever be highlights for me. Our impromptu Christmas Eve dance party with the older girls of Bethany House was such a blast. We twirled and giggled. What a crazy fun evening. Christmas Day morning, we attended church with the Bethany House kids, followed by a delightful picnic Braai (BBQ) in Bethany House Gert and Antoinette Jonker‘s backyard. Children everywhere!
I really can’t remember a more wonderful Christmas with my daughters! It wasn’t about gifts, but relationships. What better way to celebrate Christ’s birthday than to be surrounded by children from ages three months to 18 years.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Sadly, I can’t take pictures of the kids. I could put them at risk by posting their pictures online. Some have been removed from dangerous situations and their location must remain unknown — for their own safety. Our world is full of children in crisis. We just don’t want to think about the horror some of them face. And yet, they are so resilient. They blossom with counseling, attention, and love.
I wish you could see the joy in their faces. Your hearts would melt!
It’s SO hard for me NOT to take pictures of the Bethany House kids. I want to share them with you, and also take home memories with me. Today, for instance, I played Cricket for the first time. I really really don’t get the game, but I tried. I played soccer with the boys the other night. Now that I think of it, perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have photographic evidence of how badly I play their games.
We only have one full day left in sunny South Africa before flying back home to winter in DC. I’m heartbroken to leave Steph, but I know she’s in good hands. She’s made wonderful friendships with the Bethany House staff. The kids will hug her cares away, so that she won’t miss us as much when we leave. They’re glad she’s staying here in South Africa with them — though many have offered to stow away in our luggage for the return trip to America. If only I could fit them all in….
So, not only will we leave Steph, but also all the children we’ve grown to love here.
As we close out 2010 and look ahead to a new year, I hope you can all find a place in your heart for children in crisis. It won’t be hard for you to find them in your neighborhood, county, state, or even internationally, as with the Bethany House. You can contribute your time or your pocketbook, foster or adopt…or simply smile at children you encounter.
The world conspires to crush their spirits. Your smile alone can make a difference. Your action can save a life.
Blessings to you for a Happy New Year.