None-the-less, that uninviting intro was to preface that I do WANT to share one story with you! There's one that I can't wait to share about Zach, it's the only "for sure" God moment I know I own from this trip, well I own it from the back seat anyway! I haven't had a spare minute to steal a moment to myself, let alone sit down long enough to write since I've returned home to house-full of sickly kids. I wanted to tell our story in chronological order to appease my OCD organizational mind and of course for the sake of a good novel read to build up to the exciting last chapter, but it's not working out that way, so out the window goes my desire to be neat & tidy and in control and you'll just have to hang on for the ride and I'll share as it comes, all messy and unkept, much like my appearance these days! This story is the exciting last chapter about Zach that happened on the last day(s) of our trip.
But first, a quick rewind to the first day to give some backstory for good measure: The first orphanage we went to Foyer De Sion, was filled with 130+ kids. It was "loud & busy" to say THE LEAST and Zach easily found his niche playing sports with the older kids. He didn't even really peek his head inside longer than a few moments the first day we were there, he much preferred the soccer & basketball challenge outside. After the first visit we had some down time, so after he had time to process, I asked Zach what it was like to encounter an orphanage for the first time. I wanted to hear if God had broken this boy's heart for the orphans of the world like God had broken mine so long ago, I was fishing for a big "aha" moment of transformation. His answer was a typical 12yr old kid's response "seems fine, I don't think it would be a big deal to live there, it's not at bad as I thought it would be. I even seen one kid with brand new shoes!" I laughed & I sighed, thinking he doesn't "get it".....yet....but he will, I hope. Then in the following days I began to really ponder what "it" was that I desired "he get" anyway...this sadness that always looms in my heart like a grey cloudy day that never parts? Hmmm, I began to question what "it" really was that I wanted for Zach now that we were here living the reality.
The last days of our trip we spent at Gertrude's Orphanage for disabled children. It was a starkly different scene than the first couple days playing sports in the yard and just having fun with some new kids you met. From the moment we walked into the "therapy room", I could feel the discomfort level tangibly rising like a wave about to overtake you. Quite honestly it can easily become overwhelming when faced with the harsh reality of some of these extremely disabled children's every day reality, and then to embrace multiple severity's at once is a hard sight to see. I instinctively shifted into my motherly mode of dual operation with conflicting concerns to be addressed; I wanted to be a servant to these children, love them unconditionally ~ it's the reason I CAME HERE, so I wanted to be fully present in this moment, model for Zach what it looks like to dive in heart first and simultaneously I wanted to parent my son through this experience, be fully present FOR HIM to help him digest, understand and embrace the moment we were in and the reality that his eyes were being thrust open to see. I wanted to hide away with him in a corner so I could help hold his little heart as he suddenly looked like a lil babe to me too young to be here. There I sat, frozen in time watching Zach intently as he distanced himself, unsure what to do, how to do it, where to begin..sitting solemnly on the corner table just staring, so uncomfortable I thought his skin might crawl right off his bones. I knew he was wrestling, because his expressions told the story like an episode of Days of Our Lives. His face would scowl as though he was angry, then moments later it looked as though he'd burst to tears and have a breakdown and just as I'd nearly get up to go to him, his face would change into this emotionless expression as if he had disappeared all together and there sat an"empty" shell of my son. I watched this revolving soap opera play out through his expressions for a very long time, my heart leaping into my throat at every quiver of his lip, tear welled in his eye, grimace of his brow....what do I do?? I pondered to myself; is this what "it" looks like to have God break my son's heart? Is this simply too overwhelming for my young child?! What have I done, was he really ready to face an experience like this, why would I ever want him to be this kind of broken? He's simply too fragile to embrace this, this will do more harm to his heart than good! Oh Lord, what is happening inside my son's heart, soul & mind right now ~ what is happening inside MINE?! Then of all things; a young lil girl with down syndrome comes over to Zach, helps herself to his lap and pee's her pants...on his leg.This was the tipping point of penetrating Zach's defenses and I could see in his eyes the desperation of anger & loss of control and overwhelming cry for "help" as he had been pushed beyond all he could handle as he thrust her from his lap and he shut down from that moment on through the rest of the day, he distanced himself more & more, desiring to be anywhere but present in this moment.
I can't say for sure what was happening INSIDE Zach, but if that's what it looks like to be "broken" with the burden of God's heart, I'd say it's one of the hardest things to watch your child go through at an age too young to fully process what's happening.
The next morning was Zach's birthday! 13 years old. A teenager. Half man, half boy and quite the adventure as we navigate through both worlds together! I pulled him aside first thing in the morning to attempt to skype home so Donny & the kiddos could wish him a happy birthday and see his face! After our horribly failed skype call, I began to talk to Zach about his experience the day before at Gertrude's. I thought for a moment, it would be all so overwhelming that he'd "need me" to help him digest, understand and it would coming pouring out of his heart, unfiltered and I could love him through the discernment process, but he was guarded, or it may have been to early in the morning for such deep conversation, because he reacted defensively and immediately responded that he wasn't "thinking anything" while he was there. So I just decided to blab on for a moment while I had his ear. I explained to him how it was "hard for me" yesterday and that it really pushes me to grow beyond my limitations, my comfort level to hug lil people I do not intimately know who are full of snot, urine, feces, drool and whatever else you can imagine and I shared with him a handful of colorful stories of unwanted bodily fluids that had made their unwelcomed home upon my body over the course of the week. I looked him in the eyes and said "Jesus, would NOT HESITATE to grab us up in his arms even if we were full of all of that nasty stuff, He'd scoop you right up, hug & kiss ya. Remember we came to be the love of Jesus to these kids, it has to be His love, not ours. Maybe today you could try just a bit harder, maybe you could find one child that is not hard for you to embrace and try and play with him or her on our last day"....then he was off to breakfast without a response.
The final day we arrived at Gertrude's, I seen whatever that tormenting cultivation process was that happened the day prior, supernaturally sprout into something beautiful. The Lord plowed through and in a 24hr period, fruit had already blossomed! Zach fully embraced these children, walls down, open-hearted, genuinely loving in a manner that he could have never done of his own will.
I "hoped" that I'd see him be able to "stomach" rolling a ball to a child or building legos with someone, not even dreaming he'd be willing to touch them, but I seen Jesus in Zach and he loved unconditionally with no reservations, outside of all his shortcomings and OCD tendencies of the same germophobia I know to well and he massaged & lotioned these kids, they rubbed their dirty lil booger hands all over his face and he smiled, one after another they sat their urine-soaked lil bodies on his lap and he hugged or tickled them, he fed a boy lunch who was one of the difficult kids to feed (in terms of swallowing capabilities, messiness, ect) and Zach didn't even flinch.
He really was one of the most beautiful sights I seen during all the time I was in Haiti. I've asked him a few times to share with me, but it's a moment so intimate, holy & emotionally raw in him as well that he can't even process it, so I'll leave his version to be a secret of his heart between him & God and I'll rest in the fullness of my mama's heart just having the privilege of watching from the outside as Zach fully embraced manhood on his 13th birthday as he loved with the innocence of a boy's heart and I realized that whatever we came for...my son "got it".