Whenever I visit a certain orphanage, I feel like I'm going into a battlezone. Yesterday I prayed throughout the day before going there and Mary said she had asked various people to pray as well.
Lately I've had this feeling that I've been doing everything poorly. Quantity without quality. I just barely get everything done but all I can think of is how I should have done it better.
I wanted to prepare well for the orphanage visit, but the classroom situation is so unpredictable. The kids' mood can be thrown off by the smallest thing. At the last lesson, the counselor had yelled at them for not taking the lesson seriously enough, and she snapped, "You're not going to play any more games in English class! It's going to be just like a school lesson! You'll sit and repeat words after the teacher and write in your notebooks!"
You can probably guess how the lesson went after that introduction. Things were complicated further by the fact that the first graders adoringly follow us into the classroom, and that angers the older kids. First graders...fourth graders...a slight difference. There was one little 7-yr-old I hadn't seen before. "She's the worst," the older kids whispered. Little Katya grinned up at me innocently with her pigtails bouncing. And was in a fistfight soon after. At one point during the lesson she was lying on the floor, and towards the end she was in the hallway screaming and crying (the counselor took care of it at that point).
Meanwhile, I tried to split the remaining kids into two teams to play charades with the new vocabulary. Games are fun, right? Well, unfortunately I couldn't split them into teams. It involved a complicated sort of mathematics: No older kids want to be with younger kids, girls don't want to be with boys, and a certain trio of girls doesn't like to be split up. It was hopeless.
So I had prayerfully gotten ready for yesterday's lesson, wondering what could possibly happen to make the lessons go better. When we got there, the kids were getting ready to go to the museum and couldn't have an English lesson. They invited us along. On the way there, they were suddenly sweet, and very eager to learn English. They pointed at everything, wondering what it was called.
I stood hugging some kids while the elderly museum curator gave us a tour. Somehow I always feel guilty snuggling with one child; I can feel the others all analyzing. Sometimes all I want to do with the children is wipe their tears, listen to what they want to say, and teach them something useful.
But I can only be there for a few hours each week. And I despair as they grow older and unreachable and any help feels like it's too late and too little. But even if I could be there all the time, it wouldn't be enough. It's hard enough just to love one child in normal circumstances. I'm not meant to be the savior of a whole orphanage. Only the Father's love is sufficient to save. And it's not too late for Him to help. So I have to just keep praying and hoping that He will reach His hand down into the miry depths and grasp the small fingers and pull them up out of the darkness.