I have been to the orphanage personally, and I have seen her in her natural environment and interacted with her one-on-one. This picture that I took during one visit, captures one of her most common expressions. I've shown this picture to several people since then, and I've gotten an interesting reaction. As one friend described, "This picture is hard to look at. It doesn't stir up instant compassion and love, it's not easy to see." I could relate to that. There are several kids that I've interacted with that are not adorable and cute, they don't love to cuddle and laugh. I have to be very intentional about talking to and playing with those particular kids, because it is not my first instinct to go to them. It is clear they have lost their childlike innocence, due to their experiences.
Let me jump to another day, a different reaction to this picture. At the most recent pr*yer meet, we had a little card for each kid with their picture, name, and some basic info and requests. As a friend of mine pr*yed for this girl, she spoke with such conviction, asking father to help her and show her his love. The way she spoke showed such compassion, such unconditional love. I found myself wishing that I could think that way, as naturally as my friend seemed to. It's been on my mind all week, and I just keep asking father for that kind of compassion for any and all kids I come in contact with.
So let me tell you about this girl, and maybe this picture will become a little easier to look at.
Her name is Charlotte. She is about 8 years old, and she lives in the orphanage. I've never heard her speak, or even make a noise. She spends the majority of each day on a porta potty, due to a digestive issue and a lack of diapers her size. There are so many children, and not enough time in each day for the nannies to devote sufficient time to helping her. So she stays on her potty, while the other kids are playing around her. Because of this, her otherwise functional legs are failing and it is becoming difficult for her to walk.
As long as I can remember her story, looking at this picture is an entirely different experience.