By Rachael Brown
A few blocks away from the Buckner Office in Guatemala City is a house with a plastic grass yard, a living room with tile floors and bean bag chairs, and four bedrooms filled with thirteen tiny beds. If you’ve been to Guatemala on a Buckner trip, you probably know the place. It’s the Buckner Baby Home, and inside it lives thirteen beautiful children whose lives have been changed by Buckner and the teams of people who have come through Guatemala and fallen in love with the children there.
The ages of the children at the Baby Home range from infancy to ten years old. Of those who visit them, different groups and different people are attracted to different ages. Some prefer the littlest babies. Some are drawn to the toddlers. For my husband and me, it’s the “big kids.”
Our connection to these older children really begins with the story of our friends, John and Emily Wiggins. To make a long, arduous and (as of yet) unfinished story short, several years ago John and Emily not only fell in love with these kids, but also felt God calling them to adopt one of the older boys. Perhaps you’ve heard of or even met their son, Juan Pablo? When you visit the Baby Home, J.P. and his fellow “big kid” friends – Jose, Estuardo and Daniel – are almost always waiting to jump on you and play the moment you walk in the door. Or, if those names don’t ring a bell, maybe you’ll recognize their alter egos: Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Buzz Lightyear.
On one of their many trips, John and Emily decided to give these boys the gift of childhood make-believe and imagination packaged in the form of superhero Halloween costumes. My very first memory of these boys involves a trip to McDonalds for dinner and play. “Our boys” stood out from the other kids not because of their special needs or because they traveled with a group of non-Spanish-speaking white Americans, but because they were dressed as superheroes. Spiderman, Batman, Buzz Lightyear and Superman spent the evening eating French fries, climbing up the slide and showing off their best superhero moves.
That trip to McDonalds was a mere 18 months ago. Now, when my husband dresses up as Spidey and jumps over the wall with his can of silly string the boys are excited, but they’re old enough to know that he’s not really Spiderman. They know it’s my husband, not because of his voice or his build, but because they recognize (of all things) the soles of his tennis shoes. At the same time, while they’re not too old to show off their superhero moves, their superhero costumes hang, perhaps permanently, in the closet all four boys share.
Fantasies and costumes aren’t the only things these not-so-little boys have outgrown. In many ways, they’ve outgrown their own home. These boys were never meant to remain there permanently. They belong in homes with families and mommies and daddies. What’s more, at ages 6, 8, and 9, these boys want just that: a mom and dad. I hear this desire in their voices when they tell us that they want to come home with us. I see this longing in the tears that pour down their cheeks when we leave.
My stomach literally aches when I think that one of these days I will visit Guatemala and I won’t see the superheroes waving at me when we pull up to the gate of the baby home. But, at the same time, I praise the Lord because their absence will mean that Buckner has had success in finding them foster or forever families. Although I will miss them more than I dare say, I thank God that He placed these children in Buckner’s loving care and that He blessed me by letting me know and love the littlest superheroes of Guatemala City.
Please join me, Buckner, and the boys as we ask God to use His super power to provide families for these special boys in Guatemala.
Rachael Brown is from Terre Haute, Indiana.
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