This morning is our last at the Tausi Hotel, our last in Rodi Kopany, we are leaving Achungo today. But this is a day of important work — after breakfast we spent about 3 hours in a debrief process, reflecting on our experiences and what they mean in our lives.
We gather in the “lounge” and settle into its soft chairs with pen and paper and start by closing our eyes, relaxing and envisioning ourselves at the school. Each of us reflects on what we see and hear, who we are with, what we are doing, and what we feel as we picture ourselves back at Achungo, where we’ve left a large chunk of our heart. And after some time, we spent about 30 minutes journalling, writing our impressions and reflections.
The children have taught us many things that we’re only beginning to realize. They gave us immediate and unconditional love, made us feel thoroughly welcomed into their fellowship, and freely gave of their affection in a way that is not part of our daily lives, especially with strangers (or new friends). They fully trusted and accepted us from the first moment.
They also were overjoyed at anything we shared with them, even just with our company, and certainly with any little ball or block or book. But I never felt they were receptive because of the stuff. It seemed to me that the “enough-ness” of their scarcity, their total lack of entitlement or expectations, meant that I could just spend time with them and that was enough to bring them joy.
There is a hole within us that is only filled by this sort of unfettered fellowship and love (agape). And perhaps because we were willing to suspend our willfulness, our sense of what we could give/bring/do for them, perhaps because we got out of the way, God was able to participate in building our intimate connections with these children and teachers.
I am feeling an extreme compassion and love for these children and for the teachers I worked with — compassion for their extreme scarcity (it feels to me like deprivation) and how I think that can prevent a healthy, happy life. But they are such happy, friendly, accepting children that they make me immediately feel at home, feel like I want to constantly be with them to soak in this love that they freely give me.
I have huge esteem for Michael and for Dorcas and Nancy and Eliakim, among others — their integrity and compassion and sacrifice and faith is a model for me. They are not threatened by are accepting of these strange new things with genuine appreciation. There is no sense of entitlement, no fear of change (at least not in evidence).
I am overwhelmed with a frustration and sense of powerlessness against all that they need. We make tiny baby steps to help but there is so much to do. Replacing the 7 office windows, re-designing new desks, these feel like little gains with so much more to do (water pipes, electrical, flood control in the yard, let alone land and buildings and…) And I’m still so disappointed over not getting the printer to work. “Not my will, Lord, not by my strength. Help them.”