Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lala salama, Kanmau

One of the smallest boys at our home is called Samwel Kanmau. He's just an itty-bitty kid, though he's already 6 years old. He lost both his parents to HIV/AIDS and was being taken care of by one of his sisters, living in Langas, the local slum. His sister brewed changaa for an income and wasn't able to take good care of her youngest brother.

Kanmau is a quiet kid. I've been trying to win his trust for a long time, but he usually is very reluctant to give me hugs. And I'd never, ever force the kids to give hugs. I've been gone for a week since I was in Nairobi for work and then to Mt. Elgon yesterday. This morning, when Kanmau saw me, he came running to me for the first time ever and tucked his little hand into mine. Not saying a word, he walked with me to my home, where he played with Elliot (the chameleon) for a while before slipping away again to go home.

This evening, as I was walking home in the dark after having had dinner at colleagues' home, I heard his little voice calling, "Adele!" (Though when the kids call me, it sounds more like Ah-tel!) I walked over to where he was waiting outside the boys' bathroom. He came over and gave me the biggest hug ever. "Lala salama, Adele," (Good night) he said standing in his little red, one-piece pajama suit. His peculiar pajamas made him look even younger.

As I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him on his head, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with love for little Kanmau.

Some of the kids have learned to trust readily. For others, like little Kanmau, learning to trust takes time. But that's so human. Perhaps now, for the first time, he's seeing that I won't go away, that I won't hurt him, that I honestly care. He doesn't have to perform to win my heart.

It's hard to know how to sometimes deal with having 96 kids who look up at you, who all want attention, who all ask for it in different ways... Only God can show me how to minister to each child!

Would you please join me in praying for God's guidance in reaching even the quietest little ones?

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