Looking back at a year of blessings, trials, and a slew of learning experiences, it is easy to see that coming to Beijing has been the best decision for my life. Not saying that every single Christian person is supposed to move abroad to serve but, we are each asked and expected to listen and discern how the Lord is asking us to live and work in our world and in our communities. For me, that meant finishing a year of teaching, selling what little I had, and moving to a foreign country to begin the uphill trek to sanctity. After a year of walking in blind trust, I am proud to realize that the Lord is still working on me and has many more adventures and lessons up His sleeve.
The Baby Home
Never in my life have I been surrounded by so many innocent, beautiful babies that have already experienced more strife in the short span of life than I have in my near-quarter of a century. One hundred percent of these children were abandoned at birth for a variety of reasons (their parents need prayers) and the vast majority suffer with some sort of medical problem of varying degrees: cleft pallet, heart conditions, born premature, club foot, anal atresia, spina bifida, and the list goes on and on. But each one, although wildly unique, desperately need love and affection. Of course this comes as no shock to anyone, yet, this bare necessity, much like all loving relationships, requires sacrifice and a total gift of self. These children who need constant care also require genuine affection that absolutely can drain you (ask any parent). There are days when you are completely, mentally AND physically, exhausted. There are days when you would rather pick up the child with lesser medical needs or one that is easier to settle than the one with tubes and monitors attached to him. However, that isn’t what the Lord is asking us to do. And praise God, that isn’t how Jesus shows His love to us.
I am so thankful that His love or energy never wanes like mine. I am so thankful that regardless of the mess, baggage, fight back, and struggle it was to woo me, that He still chose to pick me up and put me back together. I was the child barely hanging on to life, watching the world and its deceptions pass me by, and I desperately begged to be held, loved, and cared for- but, relying on my own strength, looked in all the wrong places. Only because of His sorrowful passion, His ultimate sacrifice, His unadulterated, ardent love for mankind can I sit here and write you as a changed woman, a woman with a hope and a certainty. But, along with the gift, came the example of His life and His desire for the way that ours ought to be lived. WE MUST LIVE DIFFERENTLY. We must rely on the Lord to give us the strength to smile through stress, love through pain, and give when we have nothing left. He has everything to equip us for this life, one day at a time. We MUST ask Christ for the graces and watch as His mercy overflows our cup.
For me, I need constant reminders not to think of myself and my own personal desires. Shaking off the idea that being ‘uncomfortable’ is some horribly cruel state in life has proven to be quite the feat that seems only to be remedied by the example of others in my community or novels of great substance like Diary of St. Faustina or A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. In fact, after finishing A Severe Mercy, an amazing story of authentic love and conversion, the Lord asked me to serve with fervor and gave me the Diary of St. Faustina, the story of a religious Sister’s passion for Jesus and following His will amidst great suffering and trial, and asked me to begin reading it to one of our children in hospice suffering from Cancer that has spread through the entirety of her body. When I met this little one a year ago, she had been given the same prognosis yet, was playing with others and begging to be held. For the past eight months, tumors in her brain have made it impossible for her to move her head and forced her to be bedridden. Words cannot express the sadness in my heart as I see her suffering but, with the new task that the Lord has asked of me, I feel that He is explaining the beauty and meaning of this pain. Whatever degree of pain or suffering we endure in this life, we have a purpose and a duty to allow it to purify, sanctify, and be used for the greater good.
I beg you for your prayers for her, for our community, and for all of our hearts to be set ablaze with love for our Lord, for others, and for being willing to step out into uncomfortable situations that will bless you beyond compare. May this Lent stretch and grow us more into His image, reflecting only beauty and love to one another.