04 Nov Day 25: Celebration of Life

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

I like to imagine the celebration which took place in Heaven the day each of our children was born, as the angels rejoiced for that new life! Sadly, many children coming through our door never had their birthdays commemorated here on earth, or even remembered. Some don’t even have birth certificates to show the date.
That’s why we make a big deal about celebrating birthdays. Each child gets his or her own party, with an individual birthday cake to share. Then, the month’s birthday kids go on a special outing to the mall, with lots of fun activities.

When Corenne and I can go, it is always a special treat. Many of our children have never been to a mall before, or ridden an escalator, or had a McDonalds’s treat. Every outing leaves us with some special memory—like the boy who, seeing the rising vapor, blew on his ice cream cone to cool it off.
I remember one birthday outing in particular. It was December, and Santa was at the mall. Our girls watched him intently from a distance. They’d never experienced sitting on Santa’s lap growing up, and now they were getting too old.

I saw the youngest, Jacqueline, looking at Santa with a special longing. As we turned to walk away, she sprinted over and whispered something in his ear. 
Later Santa pulled me aside, saying, “She wants a bicycle.” I felt my anxiety grow. I didn’t want our girls to have any more disappointments in their young lives; but we have to treat all our children equally, and we can’t get something special for just one.
In those early days, things were always tight. Our seventy girls shared twelve pairs of donated roller blades—and they were happy to have them. Those with small feet stuffed socks in the toe, the ones with bigger feet left the laces open a bit. The thought of enough bicycles for them to share seemed a long way off.
As we were leaving, Jacqueline took my hand and looked up at me with her big, innocent eyes. “Santa won’t really bring me what I asked for, will he?” Her question showed she knew the impossibility, but her eyes were full of hope. It broke my heart to say, “Probably not, sweetheart.”
Our children know what it means to have nothing, and they dare not set their expectations too high. They are happy to have a warm bed, food to eat and house parents who love them. However, any parent wants to make Christmas magical, and we enjoy giving each child some small toys at Christmas—always wishing we could give more.
Maybe, this time, we could. I decided to send a letter out to our local supporters, mentioning Jacqueline’s wish for a bicycle. We prayed over the letters and took them down to the post office. By Christmas, we had received 12 brand new bicycles… and on Christmas morning, Jacqueline got her wish!
A birthday outing with a large group of children can get expensive, but we always find a way to make it happen. When we are hosting visiting work teams, we often add birthday outings to the itinerary so they can help pay for it and share in the special experience!

Father, we thank you for the privilege of celebrating birthdays with our children, and we lift up those who have never experienced a birthday celebration and may not even know when they were born. In the midst of their loneliness and abandonment, in your still, small voice, whisper to them that they are precious and loved.