Thursday, August 19 was a challenging day for the team. Many team members were coming off a high coming off the camps Monday through Wednesday. So, going from those two groups to the new groups was a bit difficult for a few, including me. The first group we visited was Orphanage #40. These were special needs children. They were kids with physical or mental challenges ranging in age from 3 to 12 (guessing).
We weren’t able to do everything we did at the other camps. When we arrived the kids were SO excited. They
rarely get visitors. So, they were so pleased to have people pay attention to them. The first group I visited seemed to be moderately affected by fetal alcohol syndrome. They seemed starved for attention. When we gave positive attention they laughed and screamed. But, when we moved to someone else, they would lash out in anger to get the negative attention. This girl with Autumn just loved to be tipped upside down over and over and over again.
The camp was set up by cabins. Some of the severe issues were in one cabin. Less severe in another cabin. And, the even less severe in another cabin. The team split up into three groups. A group for crafts, which only worked with one group of kids. A story group. And, a recreation group. Mostly what we did is played with the kids. We ran, bounced, tickled, gave piggy back rides, held and did more of the same. The kids just loved the attention.
I’ll be honest. This was a difficult place for me because I knew many of these kids have no future. The ‘system’ will marginalize them, institutionalize them and mostly forget about them. For the caregivers, it’s a thankless job. For the kids it’s utter hopelessness. For God, it’s great way for Christians to show the love of Christ and be an example of unconditional love to kids who are forgotten, but also show their caregivers what a difference they can make in these special little ones lives.
After a brief stop at the beach and then lunch, we traveled a camp for Orphanage #14. This camp was different, too. The caregivers seemed cold. The kids seems distant. And, we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Few of the kids actually participated. The ones that did, opened up a bit. Katie Johnson presented chalk art along with a Bible story about David. She told me that at least one boy seemed to connect with the story. After she finished the story about David and his unlikely choice for king, she talked to them about the ‘marks’ of life and
how God can remove them. As He does, Jesus is left behind. It was a beautiful picture of Jesus in the black clalk.
At this camp we split up into four groups. The story team. The craft team. The memory verse team and the recreation team. Many of the boys watched Katie’s art, telling her “you have to be a professional to do that, don’t you?’ (she is, by the way) The girls loved the craft for day one — friendship bracelets. But, we had trouble keeping the interest of the young people doing recreation. We tries basketball. American football. Soccer. We tried strange games. Nothing seemed to work.
I went back to the hotel a little discouraged about the day. However, others were encouraged. It just goes to show that everyone’s different. Many thought they were able to get through to the kids.
We’re praying that’s the case.