This is Sophanie. She is always smiling and likes to play tricks on her friends by refusing to hug them. It's entertaining.
Day 1 was emotionally and spiritually difficult as I saw the several children who were completely dependent and helpless lying on a mat when we returned from lunch. These kids were kept in a separate room during the morning. One of the girls was lying in her urine for about an hour before she was changed because there is a staff of only 5 caregivers for these 22 children who need individual attention throughout the day. I spent the afternoon loving these kids by holding them upright and singing my favorite worship songs to them, while praying and voicing my concerns for these kids to God. It is hard for me to understand that they spend every day like this.
When I sang "Grace Alone," (look it up, the lyrics are beautiful) with the first line being "I was an orphan, lost at the fall," I broke down, realizing this is a picture of our helplessness before God. We bring nothing to the table but He chooses to love us and have compassion on us regardless of our sin. I was blessed to be able to love these kids, to learn how to best love them like Jesus loves me. I was praying that these kids would know Jesus and enter into his kingdom. But I was discouraged because of the language barrier. I was singing to them about Jesus in English and they couldn't understand me.
However, I was so thankful for the interactions and opportunities I had with my buddy, James, today (day 2) at this orphanage. After lunch, we sat together on the mat and I tried to make him laugh. He was in a happy mood but it was still difficult to get a smile from him-- I was even excited just to see him grin with one side of his mouth. But Jimmy, one of our sweet translators, came and sat by me with a bible. I saw this as an awesome opportunity to communicate the gospel to James on creole. I asked Jimmy to read John 3:16 to James. Jimmy was skeptical as to James' level of understanding but I asked him to read it anyway. James kept eye contact with Jimmy as he recited the verse from memory in creole, and when he finished, James looked away. I knew he was listening but still was unsure if he could understand who Jesus really was from that one verse. Then Jimmy was inspired to teach the kids a small lesson on John 3:16. He engaged with the kids and asked them questions about Jesus and salvation. Our lesson gal from the intern team, Anna, followed the show with her lesson in Mark where Jesus welcomes the little children and says the kingdom of heaven is theirs. James was farther away than the other kids because we were sitting on a mat behind the table, but he fixed his eyes on the skit that the kids did with the story. Afterwards, he had this big smile on his face. He looked up, pointed up (gesturing towards heaven maybe? Jimmy did that during his lesson, I'm assuming James picked it up from that), and started laughing! I said I him, "Jesus? Yes? Jesus?" And he laughed and smiled even more. These smiles were ten times greater than the small ones earlier. We gave each child a crown that said "child of the king" in creole, so I also would point to him and say those words to prompt a smile and remind him of his relationship to Jesus. Now I am confident that James understands who Jesus is. God answered my prayer and I was so blessed by James' laughter this afternoon. The hope of the gospel is powerful, especially for people like James, whose days are simple and mundane at best. Jesus is so faithful to us.