Today, we’re excited that Erin and Emily Hagen are going to write our team’s blog post and reflect on our day:
Today was our 3rd (and final) day at WestHaven Orphanage… I woke up thinking about how I could make my day extra meaningful and special. I knew I wouldn’t see these beautiful children again after today and it pulled at my heartstrings all morning.
Most of my time has been spent in Cottage 4. There are 3 special needs children whom I was drawn to right away. When I first walked in (Monday) and asked the house mothers how I could assist them, they told me the children needed to be fed – and they gave me baby bottles. As I fed them one at a time, I stared into their eyes and sang, prayed, and smiled. The house mothers explained that these children never leave the cottage mostly due to lack of wheelchairs and their physical conditions/needs. Plus, the house mothers have so much to do, with the cottage at full capacity.
Today, I asked the house mothers if I could bring one of the little girls outside after I fed her 2 bottles. With their permission, I carried her just outside the cottage door… and held her for almost 2 hours. I pointed out the gorgeous blue sky, the goats and cows wandering around the property, and the other children playing nearby. I whispered in her ear how special she was, and how God placed her in my life for a reason. She filled a place in my heart I didn’t even know was empty. She would make sounds back once in awhile and when we held hands, she was so calm and even fell asleep in my arms. I melted and thanked God for our moments together. I later found out that this little girl is 26 years old.
Pastor Todd had explained to us before the trip, that WestHaven keeps children longer than 18 because they need (and deserve) a safe place to continue living. My next prayer was thanking God for WestHaven, the caregivers, Pastor Todd and Jeff and Paige Peterson. I’m humbled, inspired and blessed to have been a part of this TLC mission trip. God Bless! Erin
This entire morning I planned to cry at the end. I have grown a connection to these kids that I didn’t think was even possible in 3 days. When the end of the day came I never cried. I was in shock with my emotions. The more I thought about it I realized I didn’t cry because I know I am going to get back here. Deep in my heart I know I will see these kids in the future. But for now I have to keep my memories going until I can get there again.
Today I got this amazing opportunity to teach a girl something that I love. I have been playing volleyball for about 6 years. I grabbed a soccer ball and started passing to myself. She was so amazed by what I was doing, she came up and said it was her turn. We spent about half an hour learning the simple skill of volleyball. I took a small break during it and she gave me the ball, putting her hands together like I taught her. I was smiling so big that I could teach her something so easy that she never knew before.
Another moment I had was with an amazing sweet girl. We called her a princess and a beauty queen. She liked to keep people in check and keep the fighting down with the other kids. With her being in a wheelchair and smaller than the others, many of the kids took advantage of it. They kind of bullied her and pushed her around because that’s how they grew up. Anne Marie and I spent these last two days together though. Talking about the cute boys that were around, taking walks, talking, or just sitting there. If I wasn’t pushing her around though, I had to be holding her hand.
Her bubbly personality always made me excited to see her after she went to school. Knowing she would smile at me and was also just as excited to see me. Even when we were sitting in silence, the moment was full of energy. I would take her home any day if I could. Saying goodbye to her was the hardest for me. The thought that I can’t protect her from people hitting her now.
It hurts to know the kids don’t get as much attention when all of these groups aren’t there. I found the positive thought knowing just for 3 days, I made those kids days. Even if it is a smile and “how are you?” I’m not worried about never seeing them again though because I will be back. I have pictures for now and stories to tell. This trip was life changing for me and I will never forget this experience.
Thank You for all the support and prayers. Emily
Thanks Erin and Emily for sharing!
It was a good day, and with the exception of some rain that interrupted our building progress at the J’abode home, it was flawless. Our building team will return to the J’abode home tomorrow to complete and to bless it.
Thank you again for your continued prayers!