“We’re back on U.S. soil from a 12-day trip to Liberia, and while my bed feels heavenly and I appreciate smelling decent again, I already miss my Liberian family that we left behind. These people, these children, really have become just that: family. And when you start to think of people as family, and not strangers, beautiful things start to happen.
This was my 5th trip to Liberia, and while I have experienced the culture and am familiar with some of the orphanages, God speaks to me in a new way every time I return. And besides getting to love on some of my favorite kids, I think that is part of the appeal in these trips to me. There is something refreshing about getting your feet dirty, being with the poor, and just being wide open to hear God in the quiet. I think that’s what we’re made for—and sometimes we just get so lost in the hustle and bustle and “go, go, go.” I do, anyway.
There were certain moments during the trip that I consider “thin spaces”—where it’s hard to tell where earth ends and heaven begins. I feel blessed to say I felt several of those “thin spaces” throughout the course of the trip, and I feel led to share one in particular with you today.
A few days into our trip, our team drove about 2.5 hours from the capital city, in efforts to reach Buchanan, an area where Orphan Aid supports several orphanages through our feeding program. We knew our day would be cut short because of the travel, but we wanted to try and visit three orphanages once we arrived. Our first stop was God’s Heritage Orphanage. The moment our SUV came through the gate, little faces started to pop out from door frames, and within seconds those same hands pressed against the windows of our car and high-pitched voices yelled, “Hello! Hello! Welcome!” There is no hospitality like Liberian hospitality. Can I get an amen?!
As we opened the car doors, tiny hands grab onto ours, each child having one finger to hold onto. We entered into the orphanage and gave hugs and prepared a craft for the kids. Amidst the chaos of beads and string and songs, I snuck off to the dorm area, to see where the kids sleep. For some reason the dorm rooms are always of great interest to me. I guess because a lot of times, that’s how you can truly assess the needs of an orphanage…to see where 40 children sleep at night. As I walked into the rooms made of heavy gray cement, all I saw were rusted brown bunkbeds. No mattresses. No toys. No rugs. No clothes. Most definitely no framed pictures of inspirational quotes. Just a concrete floor and a rusted bunkbed. In every room.
Daryl, the founder of Orphan Aid Liberia, was seeing the same thing I was—and he knew that we couldn’t let these children sleep another night on a cold concrete floor. Without anyone knowing, he asked our Liberian staff members to go and pick up enough mattresses to fill the beds. Thirty minutes later, trucks pull up with mattresses stacked one on top of another. And soon, Mother Dorothy, the orphanage director, saw the trucks pulling in.
I wish I could have frozen time in that exact moment. Mother Dorothy embodied joy like I had never seen before. She jumped and shrieked and threw her hands up in the air. She ran around hugging anyone in sight, and every time she hugged, she would say, “Praise God!” When she got to me, we embraced, and then she pulled away and said, “I have been praying for someone to come and bring mattresses! My children have been sleeping on the floor, and I have prayed and prayed. I knew my God would send someone to help! My God heard me!” As she spoke, I felt extremely blessed, and also extremely humbled. I felt blessed beyond measure because God had chosen to use Orphan Aid Liberia in that moment, and he allowed all 7 of us to be a part of a miracle. We did nothing to deserve to see such a beautiful thing come to fruition, but He allowed for us to be there, that day, when He wanted to shower his precious children with blessings. I felt humbled because, to be honest with you, I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed and truly expected God to intervene on my behalf, like Mother Dorothy did. She was praying with all of her heart, and because of that, when God answered, she gave Him all the praise. Those mattresses were more than thick foam to her. They were proof that her God heard her and cared enough to respond. May my prayers look more like Mother Dorothy’s.
When we were saying our goodbyes, I hugged Mother Dorothy, and as my arms rested on her strong, dark shoulders, I felt the all-too-familiar lump in my throat. As I pulled away she said, “Don’t cry!” with a big smile on her face. All I could say was, “Mother Dorothy, they are happy tears. I saw God in you today.”
I learned a powerful lesson at God’s Heritage Orphanage—one that I will never forget: God hears the prayers of his children.
In the past we have taken hundreds of children’s bodies off the ground and have put them under a mattress. It’s a small but impactful piece of our mission. If you feel called to donate a mattress it would be immensely appreciated by us and the beautiful children of Liberia. CLICK HERE to support our Project Off The Ground.