Monday, October 19, 2015

the act of mercy that broke our hearts

We are near the two-year anniversary of the loss of "our" twins to dysentery in DRC, and I'm thinking new thoughts about "our" loss.

First of all, "our" twins is such a loose term.

They were never ours biologically. They were never officially ours through adoption. In fact, they were never fully anyone's except for God's. They were God's kids, just as "our" Brody, Brecken, Clementine and Oaklee are really God's kids.

We only knew of them for a month, but we already loved them like our own kids. And as hard as it is to imagine, He loves them--and the kids who are currently in our family--even more than we do.

Which is why I believe I am beginning to make some sense of their seemingly senseless deaths, even though the whole matter is a mystery too great for my brain to comprehend.)

In case you don't remember, dysentery is caused by unclean drinking water. Contaminated drinking water should never be a problem for anyone in the 21st Century, yet it wiped out almost an entire orphanage and the majority of a village. (33 of 52 kids in the orphanage died in this instance. You can learn more about it here.)

We tried to help. I wrote often of the need for clean water solutions. I spent days calling different organizations around the nation to gather information about water purification techniques and costs. Our agency gathered information, as well, and they collected thousands and thousands of dollars of assistance to combat the tragic situation. (Read more about this here and here.)

It was a tricky situation, with multiple children's lives at stake, as well as an entire village of people who were without clean drinking water. Adding to the issue of urgency was the issue of logistics. The village was in a region of DRC that was so elusive that only a plane ride was said to get you there. That plane trip, we were told, was only 90% successful, meaning 1 in 10 planes went down en route. Adding to and compounding the logical issues was the issue of cost. Plane rides cost money. Clean water systems cost plenty of money. Sustainable solutions cost an extraordinary amount of money.

Money, equipment and personnel were sent to assist the orphanage staff in providing clean water to the remaining children. They were sleeping on the floor. They were peeing and pooping on the floor. They were wearing shreds of old cloth as clothing.

The solutions our agency provided--through the help of multiple donors, experts, and thousands of dollars--could still only do so much. They provided clean water solutions with as much sustainability as humanly possible. They provided fresh mattresses and abundant cleaning supplies to wipe out the nasty germs of contamination. They provided formula and extra money to buy food to fill bellies that were bloated with emptiness.

We later learned that the orphanage was a terrible place for children, not only because of the health problems but also because of the way the children were treated. Older children--as young as six years old--were expected to act as mothers to younger children because orphanage workers were either so overloaded or so jaded they couldn't attend to all children's needs. Children were HUNGRY.

The orphanage continued to be dirty and debilitating for children, who were also at the mercy of unsafe conditions outside the orphanage's high walls. (High walls because of the instability of the situation outside its walls. Rioting and violence were commonplace right outside the doors.)

And there was and is nothing our agency can do about any of it. They tried. We tried. The situation kept getting worse. It was no place for children.

So as we approach the two-year-mark of the loss of "our" twins, I am still sad that they died so soon and without the embrace and care of parents. However, I am approaching thankfulness that God spared them the future they would face in that orphanage. With the Exit Letter Suspension--which was supposed to end on September 25, 2014--still in place without an indication of an end-date, there's no telling what they would have had to endure in that orphanage in that region.

We have been waiting for Clementine a long time, but it comforts our weary hearts to know sheis being cared for well in her foster home.

God loves his kids, and like most parents, He knows what's best for them, even if we may not understand it.

I surely don't understand why people have to endure such hardships, why unclean drinking water is still a problem, why moms die in labor, why children are being held oceans away from loving parents and families who could lavish love upon them, why children die in the womb, or why parents don't care for the children they have.

But sometimes--sometimes--I think God allows apparent tragedies as an outpouring of His mercy. Those twins were spared at least two years of abundantly difficult and love-starved life, possibly more. They didn't have to endure hungry belly rumblings and the dire need for affection and the stench of other dying children and the pain of life without a family to value and protect their little lives.

Although I still grieve for the loss of those precious lives from this Earth, I think their deaths due to dysentery were an act of His mercy.