Huge, flying bugs*, humidity, hard bed, loud rooster, foreign food, loud crying.
Tiny hands and feet, smiles, laughing, kisses, big, dark eyes, tender moments.
That’s kind of where I’m at right now… Still in a bit of culture shock. Still transitioning into this new life. But each morning has been better. I do feel rather “out of my element,” but I’m absolutely hanging in there and enjoying my time. The other volunteers are all great. My family and friends have been so encouraging. And each time I open my Bible, I read something uplifting.
I’m really not sure when I became a baby person. Before this, they kind of scared me. I used to be terrified of pressing on the soft spots on their heads. I hadn’t changed a diaper in many years. (And I’ve still only changed one poopy diaper. But the experience was prefaced by the baby’s diareha running down my leg.) Crying used to be the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. I was always worried about supporting their little necks.
But they are just so sweet and fun. I love their soft dark hair. A couple of them — Beth’s niece included — have crazy hair. I love when they look me right in the eyes while I’m feeding them. I love when they grab onto my hand as if to help hold the bottle. I love when they stop crying as soon as I pick them up. I love when they fall asleep in my arms. I love when they interact with each other — pulling hair, holding hands, sucking on feet.
A few things… (I’m probably going to do this on a regular basis, because there is so much to say, and so little time to put it into eloquent, flowing paragraphs.
+ Showhwa is so wonderful with the babies — she’s been working here for six years. She told us today she was a heavy drug user in the past and was put in jail. Her son was sent to the orphanage, so that’s how she became connected with it. Still need to hear how she became a Christian, but I heard it’s an awesome testimony to the power of God.
+ There are currently 17 babies here. One will go home in the next week or two, and there’s talk of a newborn coming our way soon. There are about 30 older children at the Home, as well — a toddler up to a few high schoolers. I was worried about feeling especially sad for them, but they seem so happy and extremely well taken care of. The little girls like my pale skin and tell me I’m pretty. (Ruth, another volunteer, is Chinese-American, so she translates for us often.)
+ I didn’t want to choose a favorite, but I am inwardly partial to some of them. One girl is pretty spunky, dramatic and loud, so we complement each other well. She fell asleep on my chest today, and it was by far my favorite moment. Twice today, she fell asleep as soon as I picked her up. The other volunteers say she looks like Heimlich from A Bug’s Life, and she really does. What a cutie.
+ My new look includes a shiny, sweaty face**, frizzed out hair, a smell of baby spit up, a shirt stretched out by grabbing hands, an outfit with baby spit up spots, and tired eyes.
+ I cannot manage chopsticks, but I’m still trying. The Chinese food has been a little hard to get used to. But the fruit here is out-of-this-world delicious. Luckily, two of the other volunteers know what most everything is and give me the run down before I dish up my helping. Also, I love rice. I won’t starve.
+ I am so appreciative of simple, comforting blessings. The ability to have a good night of sleep, working internet, Doritos, pancakes, and time to get on the computer were plentiful at home. Here, any of those things is a treat. And I’m not complaining that it is this way. I’d been hoping for a more simple life.
*Thank the Lord I’m not afraid of bugs. I killed one that was pestering us the first night. Imagine it scurrying to a hiding spot, me finding it, it flying at me, and then repeat.
** But not sweaty armpits! Secret Clinical Strength deodorant is the best!