Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Tale of the Sandboxes

We spent our first days at Aaron's institution in a bit of a daze.  We wandered around the grounds following the whims of a child who had never before had the freedom to explore wherever he pleased.  He took advantage of his new freedom every chance he got throughout out time there, through 65 exhausting visits. One of the things he wanted to check out was a large sand pile across from the shed where he spent his days.  He wanted to load his favorite dump truck with sand. We thought the pile was a makeshift sandbox for the boys, so we let him play there. 

Aaron was in his glory.  He dug to his little heart's delight. We, on the other hand, found the situation slightly less glorious. We were uncomfortable in the sand pile because it was situated right in the middle of two groups of older boys. We were forced to watch those boys act out behavior that burns deep in our memories to this day. This was Aaron's world, and it was not pretty. But we didn't want to disrupt Aaron's fun, so we stayed. Only one boy ever joined us in the sand pile, a sweet, gentle older boy who didn't belong in all of that chaos.

Three times we played in that sand pile. Three times we dug our hands into that sand, carving out roads and building mountains. We were oblivious. We thought it was play sand. 

The third time we played in the sand pile, I made a sickening discovery: someone was using this sand pile for something other than play. I dug into the sand and uncovered a pile of human feces covered with maggots. My stomach lurched as I quickly covered up my discovery and stood up. Aaron and Elijah were both sitting next to me, contently digging in that filthy sand pile.

I didn't freak out, although I thought about it. We were living in a world in which we had to be extremely careful not to offend anyone. Our sweet friend was playing with us that day, and Aaron was happily sharing his truck with him. So instead of dragging Aaron and Elijah out of there and running for cover (which is what I would have done at home), I moved them to the other side of the tree.  The sand was thinner over there, so I hoped it was a spot less likely to be chosen as a toilet. As we left I had the misfortune to turn around and see one of the older boys walk over to where we had just been sitting, drop his pants and pee right into the sand pile. I was almost sick to my stomach. 

It was the last time we played in that sand pile. Now we don't think it was there for the boys at all; we think it was probably there for the maintenance men to use when they mixed their thin concrete.

Fast foward to a year later...

Two weeks ago we bought Aaron a little pool, which we placed by the old slide Rob built for the older boys when they were little.  Under the slide was a disused, weed-filled sandbox.  On Saturday I cleaned out the sandbox, and Rob refilled it with leftover sand from one of his jobs.  Aaron was in his glory!  A real, honest-to-goodness sandbox complete with seats!  I felt like weeping as I watched him.  The memories of the sand pile across the ocean washed over me as I watched Aaron happily building houses for everyone in the family-- in a sandbox filled with nice, clean sand, placed there by loving hands and a loving family. 

My heart aches deep within me for those Lost Boys across the ocean.  Boys who will never have the pleasure of digging to their heart's delight.  Boys who don't have buckets and shovels and castle molds.  Boys who don't have little backhoes and cars to drive on the roads they create.  Boys who don't have little pools to in which to splash and play.  Boys who have only hot, empty sheds and long days filled with Nothing.

It has been almost a year since we first crossed that ocean.  It has been almost a year since we walked the roads of that faraway village.  You would think that we would be able to forget what we witnessed.  You would think that we would be able to cast aside those sad memories and move on with our life and our little son.  We can't.  Those memories continue to haunt us, and we continue to grieve those boys' condition. They have Nothing, not even a pile of clean sand to call their own.

And that is one of the many reasons why we cannot turn our backs on the Lost Boys. 

One of many.... be continued.


  1. Oh my, I don't even know what to say. We will continue to PRAY for the Lost Boys!!!!

  2. I hate that memory for you and hate that it is a fact of life for them....So sad. We made a sandbox like that for our boys, under the slide. I suggest you cover it, any local cats will find it and it will not smell good.. Shortly after we went to ToyRus and bought a sandbox with a cover...just sayin.

  3. What a memory. How sad and yes by our standards disgusting. I can relate to what you said about being careful not to offend anyone. It's hard to turn a blind eye to something so wrong but turn we must during the adoption process. You displayed great self control. I'm not sure I would have handled it as well. Thank Goodness your son is home and able to play in a real sand box. I too will keep "The Lost Boys" in our prayers. Excellent post .. enjoying your blog!!! ;o)

  4. How could you forget? I can't forget, and I wasn't even there. Just from reading your story and seeing your pictures, along with the others who have gone and told about it. I am praying....

  5. It breaks my heart, and it brings back soo many memories...

  6. My heart aches for that other boy in the sandbox. So sad that he never got a chance at a family. So sad for all of them. I so wish that all the people I know who are looking for someone to give them a perfect baby would open their hearts to a child that needs them. Even if they can only do the younger ones so they don't end up here. It just breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to know that my daughter sits in an institution waiting for us to come get her and that is takes so much time and money to do so. I am afraid for what I will see and the memories I will bring home with me but know that this little one needs me. Thank you for showing me this. Thank you for sharing your passion for these children.

  7. Weeping with you as I read this. Whatever it is that you have in mind... I'm in.

  8. Oh wow, how incredibly humbling a pile of sand can be. Lump in throat right now....Lord please take care of those boys!

  9. So what can I do? Without 20G to go and adopt a child (I really do wish I had it) what can I do from here to help them there? It pains me to know that children live in such conditions and to know that they will never have the power to change their lot in life is unthinkable.

  10. tears...just tears :( So thankful God is moving & so many of the lost are being found.

  11. I have read your earlier posts. I really do hope and pray that more kids from there get their forever families.

  12. dear word, woman! I pray to God the things you have seen, burned into your memory and heavy on your heart are there always; otherwise, how, how on EARTH will anyone know?

    God bless you sweetheart. God bless you real good.

  13. That older boy breaks my heart in those pictures. Ugh.

    Praying God leads every heart to do something to care for orphans.

    Brooke Annessa

  14. Thank you for blessing my heart with the boy in the sandbox...because of it, I have fervently prayed and he has not been far from my thoughts all day. Although we are committed to a child already, I promise you, our work is not done. One orphan at a heart both breaks and longs for this Lost Boy tonight...

  15. I haven't experienced what you went through, but I do understand the pain that you must feel... I would feel the same way. Since my eyes have been open to what is happening in other countries with these kids, I feel a passion I have never felt before! After seeing the pictures, and reading the words of those who have seen it for real, how can anyone turn their back on them? I wish I had more time to devote to them each day, but I'm praying that God will lead me along this path, and provide the time that I need. For now, I'll keep sharing links, and reading these blogs to keep my fire burning for The Kids!

    Elk Grove, CA

  16. Julia, as I sit here now in that very same country (weeping) and have been playing with my own children day after day here I am so struck by the differences in care for older and younger children. My children have been so blessed to be in a very well maintained baby house (as it sounds like Aaron may have been as well). But the thought of what their future looks like as they "graduate" on to the next facility and then the next is just gut-wrenching. I weep for the children. I pray that we can make a difference in the lives of those that aren't adopted. Thank you so much for not allowing yourself to forget and thank you for keeping my eyes open as well.


Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!


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