Wednesday, June 25, 2014

An Open Letter to Short-Term Missionaries

Dear Short-Term Missionarines Who Went to Abi's Orphanage:

Thank you for teaching my daughter how to play. You made it so much easier for her when she came home.


Not long ago, I read this fascinating article by a young man who grew up in an African Orphanage. He comments on the positives and negatives of the short-term missions teams who came through. Some were helpful... some not so much.

In Abi's case, someone taught her to pretend to make coffee.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure it was the only play that she knew. She didn't understand baby dolls, nor did she dress up. But she did use a little plastic MegaBlok upside-down as a cup to make and serve cups of coffee. Someone taught her that. Someone who was probably there for the week, and who was probably "taking a break" from painting the building or something.

So many adoptive parents say that their children come home from orphanages and report that their children do not know how to play. They don't pretend. They don't know what to do with toys.

Somehow, someone taught Abi to pretend. And tell stories. And sing songs.

And when she came home, those simple games blossomed into a rich imaginative life. It helped bridge the gap with her new siblings here.

I hope that whoever those missionaries are, they realize that the greatest good they did for my little girl was not in painting or building or delivering supplies or doing programs. It was just sitting with her and teaching her how to play.

Abi in the guest house playing with a few pieces of LEGO
that I brought when I picked her up.

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