Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Gate

For the third summer in a row, we walked through these gates 3 times a day.  Behind these gates live the 65 children in Kalinenska Orphanage #2.  These gates have become symbolic to me over the years, because I hate these gates and everything they stand for.  I hate that a prison exists behind these gates and that the captives don't even understand that they are prisoners.

Children living at this orphanage have all been diagnosed with a mental delay. A diagnosis that was most likely given when they were going through a traumatic family disruption or loss.  Once this label is given it sticks.  There is no reassessment, instead the label will determine their future.  Because of their diagnosis the kids at this institution receive a sub-par education and do not complete normal high-school, which makes them unable to qualify for higher education beyond the normal trade school.

What kills me is that so many of these kids are smart, or could do very well with some assistance.  Instead they've come to accept their diagnosis and believe that they are incapable of ever achieving.  During a simple English lesson, girl after girl in my class would give up, saying that 'it's not possible' or 'I can't do this.'  

They've been conditioned to believe that this orphanage is the best place for them.  It was eery how many times I heard kids say, 'I like it here, it's good for me here, it would be too hard if I was somewhere else.'  They literally said it the same way, as if it was auto pilot, as if they were taught to say the same phrase.  Lie after lie after lie, that they have come to believe as truth.

I had a talk one afternoon with Marina, one of the older girls, who will be in the 9th grade for the second time this year- a bright girl who has lived in the orphanage her entire life with a label- one that she believes at her core. I tried to tell her about the power of belief systems, and that when we believe something long enough it becomes true-- and that is what the enemy wants-- he is the Father of lies.  I tried to give her encouragement and tell her that what she thinks about herself matters.  I don't know how deep it went in, but as I write this I am reminded again to pray for Marina and that the lies would be replaced with truth.

There is a spiritual heaviness that exists in this village- one that is difficult to put into words.  A village of less than 2,000 residents and yet 2 orphanages are located here.  Not 1 but 2!  2 prisons which hold these faces, faces which continue to haunt me.  This summer I learned that the land of this village used to be a thriving economic center of the region pre-WWII.  It also contained a large Jewish community.  During the war the Russians came in and all the Jews were murdered.  The villagers claim that their land is cursed.  I have to agree.  As I walked the streets of the village in the morning I prayed that there would be an out pouring of the Holy Spirit on these people and that they would turn to God in repentance and for the healing of their land.  

One morning in my time with the Lord, I was brought to Psalm 107. It was one of the moments where I felt like God was speaking directly over this village and each word on the page became alive.  It has become my prayer for the people there and for the children trapped in the orphanage prisons.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
And his wonderful deeds for Men,
For he breaks down the gates of bronze and cuts through the bars of iron.
He sent forth his word and healed them, he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love...
(Psalm 107:13-21)

Let it be so....


Rachael said...

what a powerful post. praying with you.

Anonymous said...

great post, as always.

Natasha Jones said...

Oh, Karen, this is making me cry... I keep thinking of two of the kids we hosted this summer, and praying they are not sent to a "special" orphanage, as they're behind by a couple of years...but they could get help if adopted into the US. It's hard work, but doable. Praying for all the children in Kalinenska orphanage as well. And for you... Hugs!