A Collection of Happy Memories

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It’s your first time at an orphanage and the last words of the man who dropped you off here rattle inside your head, the only thoughts you remember as you enter a room brimming with excitable young boys. “They’re going to tease you and mess around, don’t be afraid to tease them back.” You feed off the energy, jumbled and tight, as you wade through the crowd, shaking hands at random and wishing you could pronounce and remember all their names. As soon as the crowd disperses to play soccer you find your clammy white hand clenched tightly in a comfortable small brown hand who leads you, with no particular destination in mind, just around. He looks back and smiles at you every now and then, causing heart sparkles of love for this young boy to erupt throughout your soul, and at once you feel purpose. You feel God moving in this place, moving to make a space for you now and a space to return to.  You feel Him showing you extraordinary love and kindness in this place of extreme pain and abandonment through the constant snuggles and soul-bearing looks yearning for acknowledgement and affirmation from the boys who have latched onto you.  You begin to feel ease as the boys joke and laugh calling you crazy, calling each other crazy and you joke, laugh, and tease them right back. Smiles decorate every face and you are happy because they are happy in this orphanage in a Morocco.
untitled It’s your first time at an orphanage and the six or seven boys who have enthusiastically surrounded you point over to a pull-up bar and encourage you to do a pull-up. And you’re thinking, “Heck yes! I can totally do a pull-up, I am about to blow these boys’ minds with my mad pull-up abilities.” So you walk over to the pull-up bar, realize it’s higher than usual, but don’t hesitate in the slightest in taking a couple steps back to get a running start. Now you’re running full force, you jump with outstretched arms, and SMACK! You faceplant into the wall in front of all these little boys and have now lost a piece of your dignity in an orphanage in Morocco.

untitled2 It’s your first time at an orphanage and the boys have realized you can speak the tiniest amount of imperfect French. After an unnecessarily large number of questions repeated over and over, everyone standing in your small bubble of warm adolescent boys realizes the question you understand the most is “Est-ce que tu danse? Danser?” You laugh off the question, a lifetime of being self-conscious about your dancing abilities seemingly having crossed two continents with you. “Est-ce que tu danse?” you shoot back, wide eyes lightly challenging the boys around you. “Oui!” The boy with the backwards hat begins to dance, and quite well at that.  You clap and applaud and give him a high five when he’s finished. He says something in Arabic to the boy next to him and all the boys get really excited as each one goes around showcasing a different talent. Beat-boxing, singing, rapping, and more dancing. You make sure each one knows they have your undivided attention and receives a high-five and a compliment after their mini performance. Time passes quickly this way, one question ricocheting around your bubble of boys, “Tu danse?”, spurring rounds of laughter and joy. It’s time to leave and the boys start to chant a song in Arabic and you think “What the heck I’ve already embarrassed myself here and it will make them happy”, so you dance awkwardly but freely in an orphanage in Morocco.
untitled3It was my first time at an orphanage and while it was heartbreaking I found so much joy, love, and confirmation about what I want to do with my life.  I laughed, I danced, I embarrassed myself, I saw the unseen, I loved the unloved and they loved me and that was my orphanage experience.

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