This week’s posts will be written by Dr. David Eastman, assistant professor of religion at Ohio Weslyan University (OWU). A group composed of eight OWU students and two faculty members visited Love & Hope Children’s Home last week, their main task being to paint the emergency room of our local hospital. Read a summary of their entire trip here. David (he wouldn’t let us call him Dr. Eastman) shares his thoughts about the first 24 hours of their trip below.
In the pre-dawn hours of a Sunday morning, the air is abuzz with the sounds of animals – thousands of cicadas and their constant buzz (announcing the approach of Easter, according to local lore), various birds, and roosters. Oh, the roosters. I have it on good authority from cereal boxes and children’s books that roosters are supposed to crow to wake up the farmer in the morning. Will someone please buy these guys a watch? They kept me up half the night. Otherwise, all is calm as I gaze out over the valley below. The trucks and buses have not started, so the pervasive bouquet of diesel fuel has yet to fill the air. And the house is quiet. Our team members are recovering from yesterday’s early, eventful, and long day of travel to get here and be introduced to the home. (We almost missed our flight out of Columbus, so things got off to a roaring start.) The staff of Love and Hope is still asleep, enjoying a weekend day that does not start with waking up the kids at 4 a.m. to get them ready for school. My mind is awash with impressions and images, and one thing has struck me already: the work here never stops. I think in terms of systems and am overwhelmed by the sheer logistical challenge of managing all the moving parts. So many things have to happen on a daily basis, and from my conversation with Rachel and Kirsten at dinner last night, it’s clear that no two days are the same. Many of the children have particular needs that put substantial pressure on the staff to be, literally it seems, two places at once. Even when the kids are in the house, as they were yesterday, they’re still kids, and that means they need help and sometimes correction. I’ve been in a number of care facilities in my life, and I’ve learned how to spot right away staff members who put on a good show when outsiders visit but slack off otherwise. There is none of that here, and the key ingredient that I have already observed is love. The staff of Love and Hope truly love these children, and the children know it and respond to it. You can see in a child’s eye the look that says, “Even in my craziness, I know I am loved – deeply and unconditionally.” And sadly, you can also see the look of a child that is denied that sense of being loved. These children are loved.
I didn’t know what to expect when I came down here, but as I await the sunrise I feel my heart being warmed for the work and the workers here – and also strangely pricked for the same. I sense that God is preparing me for something.
Catch-up with us again later this week to hear more about the OWU trip from David’s perspective. In the meantime, consider planning your own trip to Love & Hope Children’s Home by joining a team. Start your journey by visiting our website!