January 1st of 2011!!!
We wake up early and together, with YWAM-Australia, pile into the AHF van and truck to start a year of serving the Lord - beginning with an HIV/AIDS children's home!
Nikki''s Place: Agape Home is an orphanage for children that opened in May 1996 as a response to the plight of children impacted by the spread of HIV/AIDS across Thailand. All of the children who go to the Agape Home to live are, or are at risk of being, HIV positive. Many of them have already lost their parents to AIDS, and there are no other options for their care. They have a nursery for the babies and a Preschool where the children ages three to five attend school daily and are cared for by the staff and volunteers. These are the kids we get to spend the first day of the year with - just playing around and loving on!
On our way there we all were bubbling with excitement and anticipation, not really knowing what we were about to face, but looking forward to it none-the-less. Upon arriving there were no kids outside and we sat in the pagoda waiting and praying for what was about to happen. While we were waiting a little girl probably 4 years old came out the door, caught eyes with me and hurtled herself into my lap. I am nearly moved to tears just by her desire to be held. Scooping her into my arms I hold her close, nearly moved to tears just by the love that was transferred through touch.
A few minutes later her nanny came to take her away as 30 kids show up and sit before us. All of them staring with wide eyes, pointing and laughing at a few of us as we made faces at them - waiting for the Home's staff to clear things with ours... some of the boys in front of me were playing a hand game where you race to get your fingers into this pretzel or a knot the fastest. I was intrigued and let them teach me how to get one finger wrapped around the other, this one over, the other one under and then these finger tips touching that one while your thumb sticks out straight - it took a good deal of practice and some pain, but eventually they found my attempted playing acceptable. With only about 30 kids to play with, we all got "picked" and spent the rest of the day being a personal playmate with one or two kids.
One of the little boys I'd been playing the Finger-Knot-Race with, named Lachan, picked me and whisked me away to the play ground where we adventured for the following hour. Lachan, a young boy about 6 years old, had an IronMan mask that he carried everywhere! And if he wasn't wearing it, I was carrying it for him- such a privilege! ;) He loved to "fly" like IronMan and would have me "fly" him to every piece of jungle gym equipment. It was so much fun with kids and friends everywhere playing on the lawn, in the mini club house, on the jungle gym, giving piggy-back rides, swinging them around and playing a large game of duck, duck, goose. After an hour or so we gathered them all together and did some sack races, singing and distributed oranges to everyone. Sitting in the grass with Lachan on my lap and another little boy so close he was practically on me too, eating oranges and being completely in love with the kids I reflected on the life of Christ. How He held the child in His lap in Matt 9:36-37 saying, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
An older boy came by with a little baggie of pills for my boys, and as Lachan stuffed his little bag into his pocket I came back to the reality of why he was sitting in my lap at Agape Home. Again I am nearly moved to tears, feeling that the life of this little boy in my lap has been anything but easy and feeling God's compassion and love for him even more. As he finished his orange in my embrace I sat interceding for him - broken with the thought of his condition and ever thankful for Christ's example and His promise.
Gathering everyone for a photo I gave Lachan the last piggy-back ride and held up his IronMan mask for him. Swinging him down from the jungle gym we ran back to the pavilion and before I knew it I was back in the van with my teammates driving away from Agape Home. While most of the girls told about their kids and funny moments they all had, all I could do was pray for those children, my heart broken for the injustice of their situation and how much God loves each one of them. He is so good, and I am pulled into a greater love for Him just knowing that He loves them more than I ever could, and His desire for justice for these children is greater than mine.
When we arrive back at Abba House we spend the afternoon playing with the girls and then crash into bed exhausted. Sweet restful sleep in a bed, with a roof overhead, walls closing out the pests of night, blankets to warm, and friends surrounding.
Lord, thank you for your favor. For your blessings. And for allowing me to take part in blessing others just by being a vessel. I am so honored that You chose me and cannot fully express what love captivates my heart for You.
So begins the first day of a new year.
The year 2011.