I’m back. About November, I completely ran out of gas. Perhaps my muse died. I would sit down in front of the keyboard, expecting the words to flow out of fingertips. Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes later I would find myself looking for that right word to get started.
There, I found it. But then another ten minutes would pass as I looked for the second word. And the same for the third, fourth — you get the picture. Multiply it out by the three hundred or so words in a typical post, and you can see why I had to park it for a while. But at least I spent the down time stockpiling a few writing ideas so the tank won’t go empty in the too-near future.
Bottom line, I needed a rest. Even so, I got to thinking about the folks who care for our kids at Hope. They don’t have an eight-hour workday. They can’t leave it at the office at six o’clock. And they certainly can’t say, “I’m tired of this, so I think I’ll take an extended break.”
They are the only parents many of our kids have ever known. Those of us who have two, three, or possibly a few more children are well aware that we don’t get to go off the clock. Houseparents at Hope have sixteen teenagers in their care. Kids whose backgrounds often make it hard for them to easily mesh into a family; kids who have been exploited, hurt, abused by their biological parents.
And yet, our houseparents teach the children what it means to be family, to be loved.
A few months ago, I was in Brazil for some work at the City of Youth. A young American was there, engaged to a staff member, and volunteering just to help out any way he could. He was to pick me up on Saturday morning and take me to the campus. He was late, significantly so, which was out of character for him. When he did arrive, he apologized and said, “I was at the City of Youth last night, and some of the social parents (aka houseparents) were really feeling concern for their kids. So all the parents got together at the chapel after the kids were in bed and prayed for them. We didn’t finish until almost two.”
Not enough to spend long days being parents; they give up their sleep to spend time together praying for the children in their care.
When houseparents come to us, after an initial trial period, they are asked to make ten-year commitments to stay with our kids. We want to make sure that our kids don’t feel abandoned (again!) by a revolving door for those who care for them. What a difference the stability makes in the kids’ lives. During their time at Hope, they learn the lessons of family well. The cycle of poverty, abuse, and despair are completely broken. And the best part? When our graduates become parents, their children see family modeled for them — every day.
Only then do we claim success. Thanks be to God.