I finished preaching at the little tin Church with a dirt floor called St. Nectarios. I sat down behind the chanter’s stand and I noticed a little boy came right up and sat next to me. The end of service announcements were under way. And I noticed that every time I moved my hands, the little boy did the same thing with his hands. I put my hands on my knees. He put his hands on his knees. I clasped my hands in my lap. He clasped his hands in his lap. By this time he was joined by a friend. So I bent over and asked him what his name was. ‘George!’ And I asked his friend: ‘Newton!’ So I decided to teach George and Newton how to join one’s hands in such a way as to bring them under and up and then through the little hole that’s created between one’s arms show them how to put one’s head through without letting go – a little trick I learned that has proved useful through several generations of working with children! Seeing further potential, I went up and asked the leader if there might be an appropriate time to teach all the children my little trick. So now I was standing up in front of everyone with the children standing with me, all of us twisting and contorting our arms and laughing out loud at how funny it made us look. They wanted to try again and again. By now I looked over and saw even the grownups, even the grandmothers with their arms out and clasping their crossed and thumbs-down hands and bringing them down and then up and trying to put their head through. It was so much fun making everybody laugh – especially the children. Especially George and Newton. Because both these boys live in the Orphanage next to the little tin Church with the dirt floor. George has no parents. Newton has a mother. But he was rescued from a Nairobi slum because his mother was too drunk to know where he was or even to care. And it turns out the Newton is exhibiting all the symptoms of child fetal Alcohol syndrome. He is supposed to be in the third grade, but he can’t sit still and has trouble focusing.
I’m so glad I got to sit next to George and Newton. I’m glad I could make them laugh. And I’m glad all the other children and grownups could laugh together. But most of all, I’m glad that both George and Newton have been rescued from their nightmares. It will still be hard, especially for Newton, who must live through the consequences of choices his mother and father have made. But at least they are in a safe place. And have a home where they are loved and fed and cared for. And have a church home that’s filled with people who think their lives are worth the effort it takes to start an orphanage and keep it going.
Love that’s more than words. It’s pretty awesome when one comes across it.
|St. Nectarios Church near Ngecha in Kiambu not so far from St. Paul's University|