This week my husband and I are honored to be hosting some of the Matsiko (mat-seek-o) World Orphans Choir in our home. These children are orphans from different countries around the world who have joined a choir and tour the United States. Here is what their web page says:Born from a heart for every forgotten child in the unreached corners of the world, International Children’s Network began its choir program in 2008, with the first U.S. tour of Matsiko Children’s Choir. Matsiko was the first step toward bringing together children from the various countries in which ICN provides sponsorship networking and with its success, the World Orphans Choir was born. The World Orphans Choir tells the stories of the lives and cultures of children from Peru,India, and Liberia through song and dance as the children’s hearts connect with audiences everywhere.
We have been preparing for weeks for this event. For safety reasons these children's activities are limited and the hosts are asked to plan low-injury activities. They are not allowed to watch much television and never allowed on the computer. The choir consists of all ages and the assignments are made by the sponsors. Since I didn't know what ages to prepare for I bought general craft supplies. After so long in education I thought surely I could entertain children with some art activities. I had my children's books, written for ages 5-8 to read to them. I was set. Then I thought what if I am assigned boys? Will they want to sit and color or play board games? So as I was looking around the store I spotted water pistols. I bought some--just in case.
We met at the church to receive the children. The director gave us some history of the children's countries, explained the rules and how the choir has changed the lives of these children. He told about receiving the children who had such low self-esteem they wouldn't even look you in the eye. He talked about the hope and self-esteem these children have now after receiving the love of host families. Then it was time for the assignments.
Now I am ready to receive my small children. Imagine my surprise when we are assigned two teenage boys. What am I going to do with two teenage boys? I raised two boys but I didn't have to be so concerned with their safety. My boys were rough and tough and entertained themselves. We took the boys to our house, gave them a tour and we sat down in the living room to talk. After a few minutes they asked if they could walk to the lake. Their assigned sponsor walked with them and they returned in about 30 minutes. They sat on the couch looking at each other and us. I knew they had been traveling all day and didn't want to sit any longer, so I pulled out the water pistols. Their eyes lit up. We filled the pistols in the sink and these two teenagers went outside to have a water war. I watched out the window as they ducked behind the boat, tried to ambush each other, ran around parked vehicles, and laughed continually. I loved it. I loved watching them play. Most of all I loved their smiles. After a few minutes they came in the house and their sponsor told them to 'hit the showers'. While they were getting ready for bed I tried to think about what to do next. The director had asked us to treat them like our own children. What would I do if these were my boys?
When my children were growing up, at bedtime we piled into one person's bed and read a story. Then we prayed, kissed goodnight and everyone went to their own beds. Would these two boys want me to read to them? I was going to try. I looked for something to read. My children's books were out of the question. I looked at my VBS material I will be teaching in a few weeks. Still not appropriate. Then I decided on a bible story. I pulled out a translation that was easy to understand, found the story of Gideon and went to the bedroom where the boys were. I explained that reading before bedtime was a tradition in our home. They agreed and one invited me to sit on his bed. He asked me to read the story of the woman at the well. So I changed plans and read the requested story. As I hugged the boys good night, they both said "Thank you for the story."
These children have been extremely polite and respectful. It has been my blessing to share my home and time with them. I hope you have the opportunity to witness the power of love and the difference it can make in children who had no hope before joining the choir.
For more information on the choir log onto:http://www.icnchildren.net/world-orpans-choir-icn