A Life-Altering Embrace

No. No you may not come.

Prayer. Persistence. Petition. Then finally, a breakthrough.  Eleven Americans, characterized by their ethnic diversity, were  unexpectedly invited, in a turn of events, to host the “Special Olympics” at a Special Needs Orphanage in Yerevan, Armenia.

Music blasting. Balls flying. Hula-hoops circling. Jump ropes swaying. Children Laughing. Everyone winning. Celebration and excitement were made tangible in the simple, outdoor courtyard, as the 70 physically able of the 200 who called the orphanage home were brought together with 11 American foreigners for a morning of competitive games that deemed them all to be winners. And with a group of 81 who all believed themselves to be champions, there was a reason to celebrate. And celebrate they did.

Balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops were set aside as the music was turned up. Able feet began to move. Canes and walkers were set aside as the means of stability quickly became a dance partner. Wheel chairs began to roll in circles around the dancing crowd, weaving in and out as the moving hips shimmied aside to create pathways. Crooked, uncontainable smiles painted every face as contagious laughter competed with the music to fill the small courtyard. Hands held one another tightly to form chains of wiggling, grooving arms that belonged to smiling dancers moving whatever part of their body they were able to. One bald man in yellow walked to a curly, brown-haired American student to plant a light kiss on her cheek. Another young girl dressed in pink from head to toe gifted one of the American girls with an unbreakable hug, unaware that her embrace was giving that girl hope that someday all of God’s children, regardless of nationality or physical ability, could come together celebrating and embracing their diversity.

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