Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mountain Tops & Meltdowns

We have been wrapping up our activities here in Washington with a very full calendar! Last week we had a game night/gospel presentation at our church, a hike through the mountains and a BBQ in the park!  It is hard to believe that our time here is winding down and we will be saying our 'dasvidanyas' on Thursday!   Tonight will be our farewell dinner along with making photo/memory albums.

Last Friday our families and kids met at Tiger Mountain, a great day excursion here in the Pacific Northwest. After a walk about through the woods on a fairly easy trail, we all settled down for our picnic lunches.  It is always fun to see the kids switching snacks and comparing family meals!  After lunch most of the families decided it was time to head home, but a few of us 'braver souls' decided we would take a more challenging treck up one of the trails that actually had an incline!  So our little group of about 10 set out bound for the trail.  Well, we started to anyway.

About 2 minutes into our hiking adventure, one of our 'angel girls' (as I will refer to her in this post) started to bemoan her aching legs, saying she couldn't walk any farther.  I knew she was tired, but I also knew she had more energy in her than she thought, and this little miss is a queen of whining. No ifs ands or buts about it...we had to keep up with the group.  I march along ahead and then look back to find angel girl lying on the dirt, refusing to go any farther.  It looked like a classic toddler meltdown...and she is going on 12!

A determination rose up within me.  She was not going to win this one...we were going up the mountain!

The group went on up ahead and I said I'd deal with angel girl. By this point she had dusted the dirt off of her and was heading back down the hill in the wrong direction.  I grabbed her, picked her up and started carrying her up the hill (I was determined).  Telling her that she had to keep going - trying to distract her and encouraging her that she could do this.  We were a team and she couldn't give up.

It didn't work.

I tried distraction, and humor, everything. Her 'net' only grew louder.  This little girl was getting angrier and more upset by the moment as she stiffened her body, starting throwing off items of clothing and running down the hill to where we had begun.  Screaming insults and hurtful words all the way down.

It is difficult to describe the hardness I have witnessed in this little girl. Beyond this temper tantrum of control and determination to get her way, is a girl with very deep wounds.  By the time she had reached her landing point at the bottom of the hill she had thrown off her sneakers and was seated on a bench with mixes of cries and screams. I tried to speak truth to her and love to her, but with her hands she would shut my mouth.  Tears now began to flow from my eyes as I tried to communicate love and try to get to the heart of what was going on. 

It didn't work.

The afternoon ended with the host mom coming back to the car and angel girl crawling in the trunk of the van, still angrier than all get out-- but she had won the battle she wanted-- she was in the car and not on the mountain.

I on the other hand fell into the passenger seat of my car (my dad was driving) and just began to weep.  I hadn't cried tears like that in a long time.  Through tears I tried to explain to my dad that I wasn't upset because this one little girl had a temper tantrum and shut me out.  I was grieved because I was once again reminded of the depth of the pain and the depth of the wounding these kids possess.  I was reminded that one hosting trip isn't going to 'fix' them.  I was reminded of the depth of ministry needed in the lives of these kids.  I was reminded of the need for prayer.

When I looked into her eyes, and saw the coldness and the anger, I was wrecked.  I had tried to pray and she had silenced me. I was reminded yet again of the battle being waged against these kids.

And just like I expected, the next day at the picnic event, we were once again best friends.  No acknowledgement of the crazy meltdown... just back to normal, as if nothing had ever happened. 

I was reading today in the book of Habakkuk. The prayer that the prophet Habakkuk prays in the opening of the book resonates with where my heart was in that moment on Friday. It's called Habakkuk's complaint.

 How long, LORD, must I call for help,
   but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
   but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
 Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
 there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
 and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
 so that justice is perverted.

This 'complaint' sums up so much of the injustice I have witnessed in the orphanages of Ukraine.  The generational sin.  The violence.  The abuse.  The perversion of the law. 

Like Habakkuk, I ask a lot of questions. And like Habakkuk I don't always get the answers I'm looking for.  His prayer comforts me though.  Something is comforting about seeing a prophet ask these kinds of questions too, to see his frustration and the weight he carried on his heart.

I don't doubt that God is working.  I know in my heart that he is using this trip in the lives of these kids and I know these are his babies.  But I am once again reminded of the work that is left to be done.  The walls that need to be torn down and rebuilt.

Habakkuk ends with a thought provoking prayer-- a challenging prayer....

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails 
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD,  I will be joyful in God my Savior.   
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)        

The words of the prophet remind me that ultimately, no matter what I see around me- God is still God.  I will choose to rejoice because he is my savior- and my strength to keep fighting this fight ultimately comes from Him.  Through the difficult moments on the mountain-- he alone enables me to tread on the heights.  


Healy Family said...

I have been praying during your trip that each of these kids will be pursued for adoption as a result of this trip. Is there anyway for you to report on what happens after you leave with these kids?

Thank you for all you do to help these kids be orphans no more. :)

Tara G. said...

Hey friend- thought of you and the kids the other morning and began praying for the final days and the hard goodbyes, the long flight back, the re-entry into their world...good grief- I had border blues as an adult who has light at the end of my "tunnel"-- no doubt they'll experience confusion! Will be at the wedding on Saturday and will hug your neck then.

Natasha Jones said...

I'm sorry I left early, too - I sooo needed a nap! :)
You're right about that one hosting trip won't "fix" them. But I'm pretty sure that this hosting trip will change their hearts just a teeny little bit. and every little bit counts... The four in my home now pray on their own. They've seen the love and not anger every day for three weeks, and I asked them last night, what they would choose as they grow up - love or hate in their homes. They all saw the difference here... I truly hope that all of them will be adopted, they are really good kids. They do have issues, of course, and they will need to be nurtured to "health". But the potential is there. Love to you. Thanks so much again for giving us an opportunity to serve Him through this hosting program!

Alan said...

It's like they have minds of their own! I've said that a few times over the last couple of years. Parenting kids, especially adopted ones, is very challenging. You experienced what many of us have gone through. Most of these kids are very wounded. Much prayer and wisdom is needed.

Anonymous said...

What a powerful and moving post Karen. It graphically displays the hurt, anger and lack of coping skills that so many orphans must either live with or seek to overcome. It reminds me of another little "angel" very close to me who has had many similar melt downs. But more importantly, your story displays the God's heart of compassion pouring through your appeals and tears. He will never quit fighting for their hearts. Neither must we! Love and prayers.

MamaPoRuski said...

Sorry to just now catch up on your blog. I so know the cold hard stares and angry meltdowns! I know you know it is not about you. You had no way of knowing the hike was going to trigger a trauma reaction. She probably doesn't even know it herself. Praying for her to feel safe, and let the love of God heal her from the inside out. HUGS for you too!

Wife Goes On said...

I just stumbled here from Tara G.'s blog. Thank you for your service to these precious children and for writing about the good times and the bad. You and the children are all on my prayer list. May God bless your efforts abundantly.