It’s a beautiful day on a golden beach. The sun is warm, but waning, and the crowds have thinned as sunburns and hunger slowly, but surely pick off the beach-goers one by one.
One young man isn’t quite ready to leave yet. Love is keeping him there, at least for the moment, as he puts the finishing touches on his masterpiece. He looks off in the near distance at the object of his love and the inspiration for his art in the sand. He sees that she is gathering up her things; folding beach towels and putting empty drink containers in a cooler now void of ice.
He looks down at the stick in his hand, smiles and kneels to carve the last remaining initial in the sand. He stands and looks around him, surveying the 20-foot heart he has drawn in the beach. His smile fades as he notices that the tide is coming in, already within a few feet of the bottom of his sand-carving. He calls out to the young woman. She turns and a huge smile crosses her face when she sees what he has done. She walks down and stands there in the middle of his token of love and hugs him as the sun drops lower in the sky and a rolling wave slaps the sand at the bottom of the heart.
The young couple finally relents to the call of hunger and pack their things back to their car and drive off as the tide continues to rise.
Two hours after they are gone, the bottom third of his artwork has been erased. By midnight more than half will be gone. By morning there will be no trace of the heart or their initials inside it. His token of affection will simply be gone. Gone with the tide. Yet though the token is gone…the love still remains.
Time, like the tide, is relentless and merciless in its pursuit to wash away the past. As each second ticks by, the one behind it quickly goes from being the most important to being the second most important, then the third and so on until its relevance to the present and all that is happening now is lost.
Events in our lives and the news headlines that summarize them are much the same. Big, bold letters call out the tragedy of the day, the story of the week, impending or happening as we read the story that follows. But, as the clock ticks on and the days roll by, the tides of time roll in and wash it all away as new events become the new story. The new headline. Yet long after the headlines and stories are in the archives, the personal impact they have had lives on in the lives of those who lived the story rather than told it.
In recent times, the headlines blared of the impending doom and havoc to be reaped by Hurricane Harvey. Those headlines were rather quickly replaced by the news of Hurricane Irma heading for Florida as if the hurricane itself was seeking glory over its competition. Then yet another took that one’s place and was a mere blip in time as tweets from the president regarding North Korea and the NFL were deemed to be of greater relevance and value to the audience and the advertisers. Yet to those effected by Harvey, the story lives on. And the same goes for those whose lives were tragically impacted by Irma and Maria.
It even seems that the tides of time control the major disaster relief organizations. They swoop in with thousands of volunteers and distribute tens of millions of dollars in aid and then they are gone, their mission complete. Their task and goal is to render immediate aid to those in need and that’s what they do and then they are gone with the tide. Organizations large and small who specialize in disaster relief along with thousands of insurance adjusters all swoop in, do their very worthy work and then they are gone. But, again, long after they have moved on to the next disaster, the personal tragedies live on. People who have lost loved ones have had their lives changed forever and they deserve our help and our prayers! The uninsured and underinsured are left homeless. Some have lost their jobs and have no income. And yet the headlines and the help have moved on…gone with the tide. And that’s in the United States; the richest and most prosperous country on earth. A country with many layers of help available. Just imagine what it’s like in 3rd world and developing nations where those layers don’t exist.
At Orphan’s Lifeline, we know all too well what happens in those countries when the headlines move on. That’s because our mission is different. Long after the headlines have moved on, we are still there because we are in the business of rebuilding lives rather than homes, communities or cities. Our mission is very personal by nature and to Orphan’s Lifeline and its partners the story is ongoing, day by day, year after year.
One such story began in December of 2004 on the coast pf South India in a place called Pudimadaka which lies along the sea in Andhra Pradesh. Some of you may recall when I first told you this story in April of 2005.
Two young brothers named Venukaumar and Pilatu were on an annual trip to stay with family in the area. As in past years, their plan was to stay for a number of months while older members of their family fished the waters, their only livelihood and a trade taught and practiced by many from generations past.
In December of 2004 as the boys spent time with relatives not too far from the coast, a giant wave from a tsunami crashed ashore. When the wave receded, their mother Mariyam and nine other family members were simply gone. Their father Jameelu somehow survived and he searched frantically for his wife and loved ones amidst the debris left by the wave. Sadly, he found nothing. His wife, family and livelihood had all vanished in just a few terrible moments leaving him alone on the beach with only his despair.
It is difficult to say what thoughts and emotions drove him to leave the only two good things left in his life, but leave his children he did, with the relatives of his wife…and then he simply disappeared. Like his wife and his family who were swept out to sea, he was gone with the tide.
His wife’s relatives were unable to care for the two boys and just a couple of weeks later they knocked on the door of CCIM, one of our orphan children’s homes in the area, and simply left the two boys there and never returned.
That’s the story I told you more than 12 years ago. The headline for that story was “Voices in the Wind,” but like most of the stories we tell here at Orphan’s Lifeline, it was really just the first chapter in a very long story. The first chapter of many in the life-story of those two young boys.
For more than 12 years Venukaumer and Pilatu have lived at CCIM children’s home. There they have been loved and cared for. There they have laughed and cried and learned and taught. There they have been members of a quilted family that provided them with everything they needed to thrive despite the tragedy that marred their young lives.
Just recently we received a letter from the younger brother (Pilatu).
Pilatu wrote the following: “ My name is Pilatu. I and my brother joined CCIM children home in 2004. Actually I was so little. Actually I did not know how I joined the home. During the time of the tsunami my mother died. If CCIM children home not there during the time, I and my brother would have been beggars on the street. CCIM is my mother and father…
…I studied from 1st class to 10th class in CCIM. In 10th class I got 6.2 percentage marks and I desired to study Electrical, I.T.I. for two years. I got high marks and I have been selected as an apprentice in L&T company. I will be leaving CCIM children’s home on September 30, 2017 to join L&T Company. I stayed in home for 13 years. I will be in touch our director often. Thank you for giving me life! - Pilatu”
That is Pilatu’s story. His older brother is also in a polytechnic college at this time and doing very well.
Theirs is just one story of many thousands of stories being written in our children’s homes around the world. Save the stories we write, there won’t be any headlines. There won’t be any news footage covering these stories of triumph over tragedy, but it doesn’t change the importance or value of what is being done thanks to you!
Together we are creating a legacy that consists of rebuilding the broken lives of innocent children who have no one else to care for them. Together we are the last line of defense for these precious little souls. With your help, we will continue to build this legacy to God’s glory so that innocent little lives are not simply erased…gone with the tide…