Thursday, August 19, 2010

Family Ties

One of my favorite things about Spanish culture is the importance of family.  

Kind of ironic that I'm working at an orphanage where the families are dysfunctional or broken, huh?!

Anyway, I love the generations living close and the respect that the kids have for family.  I love that cousins stay close.  I love that brothers and sisters work together.  I love that big families are normal-and when I say big families, I don't mean ones with a ton of kids, but one where everyone is involved.   Life is what happens, not how it's planned.  I love that way of living, probably because it is so not what I would be if I was left to my own devices.  I love that it doesn't matter what time dinner is, we're all together and we just get to it when we get to it.  Not how I normally operate, but I'm trying to incorporate more of this into my everyday life.  

I think one of the main reasons I love this protection of family is because I have such a great one.  Family is a great thing because you always (or should always) have a place to belong.  And when I say that I have a great family, believe me, I do, but I'm a part of a lot of great families.  I think another great thing about Spanish culture is that family is what you make it to be.  The boys here are family.  They know that.  They treat the kids like beloved and annoying siblings.  Even when there is a dispute, it's apparent that this place is filled with love between the kids.  I'm fortunate to be a part of several "families" like this, too.  When we lived in Virginia we had no one close, but we made a family.  After we made our family we never had to worry about if we belonged or not…we knew we did.  We're family.  I grew up with this "family" as well.  My grandparents and cousins were far away, but you'd never guess it if you saw us on the weekends.  We were adopted by grandparents in the church and never felt like we lacked for a grandparent's love.  We also found family with the girls I grew up with.  It just so happens that most of them are related, and they just kind of meshed us into their big mess of family.  We love it!  We love being part of all of these, as well as our own wonderful blood families. 

Now that we're living in Portland we're joining making a new family.  We've made great friends there and are really starting to feel like that's home, we're really family.  Combine that with the fact that we really do have family close, well, life is grand!

One of the things I've been reflecting on a lot down here is how the church is supposed to function like a family.  Christ's model is a family…if it weren't he wouldn't call the church his bride.  I love that there is this deep need inside of each of us to find a family to be a part of-I think finding a family to be a part of is the first step toward becoming part of the bride of Christ if that makes sense.  If you don't want to be a part of a family, you surely don't want to have anything to do with Christ (please don't think I'm saying your family.  I realize that some people don't have a functioning blood family and when I say this I mean any family…primarily the one you make for yourself). 

I marvel at how the kids here long for the permanence of family, and how through their longing they rise up to become what their 'brothers' and 'sisters' are looking for.  They have found family because they have made family.  This has never been more obvious to me than when I heard from the two boys that were sent home.  They have now been brought to another orphanage in the area and the relief in the Posada (the boys' home we're living in) is palpable.  The boys' names weren't mentioned until we found out where they were and how they were doing.  Now it seems like the tension is eased and we can talk about them without worrying about where they are, if they are safe and if they are being fed.  Relief.  

The kind of love these boys have for each other is special.  It runs deep.  It's dysfunctional at times, but always loyal.  This is true love.  It's a true family. 

We are so blessed to be a part of it. 

POST EDIT:  After writing this yesterday, one of the boys that were sent home came to visit!  What an amazing blessing!