A story from Lesotho (Benno and Wendy Fath) …
Wendy and Benno Fath are missionaries serving in Lesotho, Africa. For more information on the missionaries CrossRoads supports, visit our website. Below is a post that was originally entered on Benno and Wendy’s blog.
Actually, it was indigestible. Last week one of the little people at Beautiful Gate decided to chew his mattress, and he chewed a big chunk. Fortunately he did not swallow. Stomachs don’t digest foam! When I asked, he told me he chewed and then put it in the garbage. Whew!
Now there was a topic for conversation!
“Abuti, can you tell me why you chewed your mattress?”
Head down. No response but a tear beginning to tip the edge of his eyelid.
“Were you hungry?”
A shake of the head, and now the tears are flowing freely.
This little guy is so sweet and sensitive. He is quick to correct if he thinks he’s done wrong. Usually he’s pretty articulate, even in English, but today he’s so quiet. And so sad. In fact, he’s been quiet and sad more often lately…
Most of the long conversation we had was more me asking careful questions, not wanting to lead down a path of my making, and him merely nodding or shaking his head as the tears flowed and flowed.
It was hard work for me, and obviously, by the amount of his tears, very painful for him. As the details unfolded, however, the best I could make of it was that he’s not happy. He did communicate that: “Are you happy at Beautiful Gate?” A shake of the head. Strange, because things are good for him at BG. He’s got lots of support around him right now. But, clearly he’s begun to feel something missing. He’s been here too long already.
He sees other kids leaving and having families and he’s still here, one of the oldest children. Just last week a friend of his was adopted and left with his family. Another housemate has moved to a long-term home here in Lesotho, yet the two see each other at school each day. He sees his past housemate in a ‘family’ and he must long for that, I’m guessing.
To lend credence to my conjecture, when I asked him how he thought of chewing a mattress and if any other kids had ever chewed a mattress, he immediately named this boy. Here’s my kid math at work: my friend chews a mattress and he gets a family, so maybe if I chew a mattress someone will pay attention to me and get me a family.
I don’t know; it’s just a guess because he can’t articulate his feelings too well on this. But the deep well of his tears tells me that there are some deep, deep feelings going on with this little fellow.
I talk, I hug, I kiss, I wipe away tears–both his and mine. I try to imagine what it feels like, what that longing to belong must be like, what that emptiness must be like. I’m having trouble digesting it all. What longing would be deep enough for a small child to chew and chew and chew and chew apart a foam mattress? To chew and spit and chew…That could not have been a pleasant experience. I imagine his little heart just trying to chew through feelings of a kind of hunger that I can only just feel the edge of.
It’s indigestible. I can’t digest it, so I take it to my Father God and ask Him to fill that hunger in this little boy’s life, to give him peace and joy—to protect his little heart. And I ask God to work a miracle and provide him with a place of belonging in a family. If your heart calls you to do so, please join me in praying for this little fellow.
And I pray this for many children at Beautiful Gate and beyond, who have no families and who have a deep, deep longing. May God protect their hearts. I also pray that God will move in the hearts of the leaders of this and other nations, that they may see the plight of orphans as a much greater priority and lend more resources to meeting their needs.
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).