Today, I spent much of the day working from our children's home office, hoping to be able to focus better in a real office setup. Around lunch time, I heard the preschoolers coming home. As I stepped out to greet them, they started running towards, me, arms open wide. Within minutes, I had hugged EVERY kid, only the shyest of the shy ones (like Eliud) slipping by without coming to hug me. Later, as they headed back to school, they wanted hugs again...
The kids hadn't seen me since I left for Kipkaren last week and then was off on safari with the team. That's almost a week.
"Adele, when will we see the movie?" many wanted to know. I'm hoping to show them a movie on Saturday afternoon, but I'll be in Kipkaren for a meeting in the morning and don't know if I'll be back.
"Will you go to America, Adele?" Alice asked. They know the Albrights will be moving back to the US soon and they're afraid I'll be leaving, too.
"I will. The day after we all go to Kipkaren [for the official opening of the children's home there], I will fly to America. But I'll be back in February."
As she calculated the months in her head, you could see the shock on Alice's little face. "Three months? Nooooo. You can go one month!"
Others came up to find out what the deal is. "You cannot go, Adele," Matasio said. "Stay."
"I'll be back," I assured them.
By the time I went to drop something at the home after dinner, news had spread. "You will go away, Adele?" Vitalin asked.
"I'll be back," I keep assuring them.
"Will you write to us?"
"Of course I will."
"Will you come to read to us tonight, Adele?" Brenda asked. I told them I'd come tomorrow night since I had to finish a few other tasks tonight.
"Please read us TWO stories, Adele!" Vitalin asked. How do you explain to the kids that I'd love to read them two stories, but it's not fair. I'd have to read to all the others, too . . . It's hard not to have favorites! It's hard to love 97 kids equally. I really try to show equal love to them all, but some kids just know how to get to my heart. The Rotich kids (Nelson and Dorcas' kids) are definitely ones who know exactly how to get to me, how to twist my arm!
As I walked home under the black blue sky speckled with thousands of stars, I had a smile in my heart. A huge smile. I had given and received more than 100 hugs, each with as much passion as the previous one. I love these kids deeply. It hurts to see any of them hurt. But what joy it is to have fun with them, too. In fact, this evening, I had a water spitting contest with a 4-year-old and soon all 24 his brothers and sisters were outside coming to see why we giggled so hard!
In many ways, for me, that's what sharing Christ's love with them is about! Yes, I pray with them. Yes, I tell them stories and Bible stories. But more than anything, I show them how God delights in them by loving them lavishly. By giving them big hugs. By bending down to the level of even the littlest ones, swinging them in the air as they leap into my open arms! And by making them belly laugh!
I really think that's what Jesus meant when he said, "Let the little ones come unto me..." I'm sure he made them laugh. He delighted in them. And he probably even swung them in the air as they leapt into his arms.