We are going to be eating Lumpia for Christmas!
And Kare-kare. And Halayang Ube.
Filipino cuisine will be on the menu here because we have made the decision to host an orphan in our home and our family for about four weeks this Christmas time.
The kids are flipping with excitement, and pray for her already. It was their reaction that helped us make the decision.
As dinner wound down one night, we asked them if we could talk to them about something important, their full little bellies, messy faces filled with the nights dinner facing us, growing quiet, we hadn’t made our decision and wanted to see how they felt.
Andrew and I were very serious, stern.
“…and it would be for a few weeks, and out job is to show her how special she is, and loved. And our job is to share with her, everything, and…hey, shhh, listen to more of what this is about…”
They couldn’t. They were jumping and cheering. Maria flapped her arms around like a bird and Finely repeated, ‘One more gurl? One more gurl!’
She is ten.
It was two days before that Finley, on a whim, as we were privately deciding (you guys, it was super embarrassingly hard to say yes–for another day) told us, “One more big girl, mama. Like Maria…” I just looked at him, “What makes you say that?” I asked him, hoping for something deep, some ‘big sign’ I was looking for.
“I dunno.” #JackHandy
While Andrew and I were deciding, life vacillated between being so perfect, everything so in line, such smoothing sailing, so why add one more even temporarily– to so many random burdens being flung at us, so why add one more, even temporarily, cause this is crazzzzy.
We were feeling flighty, fearful, busy, fluctuating between filled to the brim, and burnt out.
But finally, pitifully late, we read and read and finally folded our hands. But, we remembered.
This whole thing, you know, is about Love. And when you read really closely, it’s about giving, and surrender, and just saying ‘yes.’ The freedom in yes to God.
It’s not about closing in our blessings close to us, away from everyone else, stoping up the walls, boarding the windows, we’re good, thanks.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Well, shoot. To be honest, I didn’t want myself to be sitting alone in an orphanage for Christmas. Andrew and I hear on a weekly basis about what that crap was like.
So we let go. It was almost harder this time, until we first started, then it wasn’t. We remembered, and it washed over us, brushed out some of the weeds that had grown. And we breathed a sigh of relief. Letting go of our fear, our materialism, stubbornness, and honestly–our laziness. We breathed out slowly.
Our children took no time to prepare, to dance with the fear and doubts of it, they heard about her, Jonalyn–and embraced, with the joy and excitement of loving others, instantly. They teach us so much every day. “And,” I added, hoping they truly grasped what we were telling them, “you’ll have to share ____, ______ and ______.”
“Yay! Ok, cool!” Hmmm, maybe I was more worried about it than they, I realized, as their eagerness and excitement ebbed at my sternness, because caring for the poor is a big, hefty, weighty, task….wait, right? This is serious, right guys?”
As Maria ran to her room and picked out all the toys ready for our guest of honor. Her two best dolls. Her favorite shirts.
“It’s ok, mama! It’s special!”
So, all together, this time, as a family of five, we turn our faces to one more, and we greet her. We open our arms wide to her, together and we will draw her in.
When she comes, she will have a host sister who will share everything with her, with endless patience and joy.
And two wild brothers who are half cuddly and working on being kind, to well, half just being two years old. #TwoAndLovingIt
Two imperfect people leading the younger three to tell her that oh my goodness, guess what–you are important. You are so special and loved, and that we love you. And Jesus, he’s just crazy about you.
She will be here for the stockings and the presents and the family and the smashing of sprinkles into cookie dough clumps, for the getting smudgy cocoa rings around lips, laughing to lick it off. For early morning baked french toast and Grandma’s and aunts and cousins and cozy jammies with feet and if we’re lucky, maybe a carriage ride down town driven by a horse, bundled all together under blankies.
Whatever we have, she will have. Whatever we can give, we will give.
Since we committed, Finley and Maria ask us often about giving and how to love, Maria contemplative, “How should we…” making her game plan to love, to accept to encourage. “I think like games, and make braceletes, and, and…”
We talk about giving and how it makes God glad, everyone else too, “Yeah, and God loves me, mama,” Finley added. Very true.
There are approximately 15 orphans for every square mile of the Philippines, 1.8 million throughout the country.
“Your donation will help cover airfare, passport, visa, and insurance costs and will allow Jonalyn to experience God’s love and the love of this wonderful family.”