What La Providencia Taught Me

We played Uno, colored, swung, and played tag. They giggled as they showed me their bedrooms and beamed when I lost at our card game. They pointed out where their best friends lived (in the home across the street) and showed me which park was their favorite (there were two playgrounds within a few hundred yards of their homes in either direction). The houses were normal enough. Big. Open. Inviting. One had a garden in the backyard (#lifegoals) and the one across the street had a chicken coop. It felt like just another day in the life of a nanny. Sure I was speaking Spanish, but I’m a Spanish major so even that wasn’t that weird.

But I wasn’t nannying. And as much as it felt like I was in a neighborhood, I wasn’t.

I was in a Central American orphanage.

Growing up I had heard of orphanages. I’d thought they were desolate places filled with children and void of color. And in most places, I suppose that could still be true. But not here. These children live in bright, spacious homes. They are not growing up as orphans, but rather as brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. The extended family structure that has been established here at La Providencia is nothing short of breathtakingly beautiful.

You wouldn’t think that playing tag and coloring sheets would be profoundly thought provoking, but today, they were. These kids were born into nothing. I was born into upper middle-class America and with that, a life of luxury. I never wondered where my next meal would come from and I never lacked anything. I had everything and then some. They had to look up to see rock bottom.

And yet in so many ways, these children and I are exactly the same.

When they were infants they didn’t know that they had been abandoned. They didn’t know that they were alone. They were dying and yet were completely incapable of helping themselves. Their needs were so great that they could not even express them, for how can one express something that they do not understand?

But then one day, all of that changed. It wasn’t because of anything that the children had done. They didn’t ask for help, because they didn’t know that they needed it. Someone had to come to them. Someone offered open hearts, homes, and arms. They paid the price, crossed bridges, and welcomed them in. These once nameless faces became part of a forever family.

It was these things I was thinking while I played Uno this morning and I had to fight back tears as I thought back on my own adoption day with gratitude and wonder. I was raised, loved, and cared for by my biological parents, yes. But I was indeed adopted into it a forever family as well. I was so desperately lost that I was unaware of the utter darkness in which I was wandering. So love had to take first step. Love initiated.

This morning, when I was looking into the eyes of these once orphaned children, I saw myself. For the first time, my salvation had become somewhat visible. Never before have I been so cognizant of my desperation, so aware of my salvation, or so thankful for it. I didn’t know I needed to be saved. I didn’t ask for it. But God in his mercy saw me when I was alone, desperate, dying, and family-less.

And then he called me His. He extended his grace and his love to me. Not because I asked for it, but because he loved me enough to give it. He saw my need when I couldn’t.

God chose me. He wanted me. He paid the price for me. He adopted me. He loves me.

I am His.

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