Jeannie thought she knew everything about orphans. But, she didn't understand what an 'Orphan Spirit' was. She’d been to Mexico every year since she was seventeen. She enjoyed the brief visits of two weeks or a month working with the children. She became nervous after that as she always thought they wouldn’t like her or that she was in the way. Her life had been one episode after another of not belonging or not fitting in. When she was working with the orphans she felt like she was wanted even for a short while.
She was raised in foster homes and didn’t know who her real parents were. The last foster home that she had stayed in brought her to church. That is where she had found a niche in teaching Sunday School and later went on to become a teacher in the First Church of Jesus Private School. She loved her job and she was very creative in teaching bible studies to the children. Yet, without Jeannie realizing it, she had somehow missed one very important fact in her relationship to God. She was soon to find out about it.
The flight seemed to be taking forever for Jeannie. She had been aboard the flight for three hours and had another half hour to go before she was to land in Texas. The plan was for the team of missionaries to land in Texas and drive to the Mexican border from there. Jeannie looked out the window at the electric light display. “I’m turning the fasten seatbelt light back on folks,” said the pilot. “There seems to be some storms passing.”
The colors were bright red, purple and yellow. Jeannie was always fascinated by the way the sun reflected off the clouds. She sat back and relaxed as the plane went through some turbulence. She fell asleep watching the light display outside her passenger side window. Soon, she was feeling the wheels of the plane hit the ground as it taxied down the runway.
Ron had made all of the arrangements and their mini van was soon on it’s way to Mercy Orphanage. Jeannie sat and gathered all of her papers. Her passport was handed to the front of the van among the five others. She stared out of the window and watched as three of the seven lanes worked at making sure all of the passengers were legal and accounted for. Their bags were searched and then searched again. The group of five had brought only a small suitcase a piece. They were waved on and met the Mexican border patrol within a mile.
A smiling faced young man spoke to Ron and once again looked at all of the passports and suitcases. He asked everyone to step out of the van. Jeannie was glad to stretch her legs. The five lined up in front of the patrol. The man looked at the picture on the passport and handed each one back their passports. Jeannie noticed he spoke English well. Ron seemed to know this man. “So, I’ll bet our little Peter is getting big eh?” The young man smiled. “You will soon see.”
This was not the first time Jeannie went to the orphanage named ‘Mercy’. The small dusty road leading to the orphanage seemed to draw her each time she went back. She did not remember meeting this man though. “Who is that man you spoke to Ron?” She asked as their mini van pulled away.
“Oh, that’s Manuel. His son Peter is at the orphanage. His wife died and Manuel’s folks were too old to care for him. He lives at the orphanage and Manuel comes to visit whenever he can. “Jeannie sat back and remembered her days in foster care in the city she grew up. She was safe and warm but always felt like an outcast. That was what had drawn her to the orphanage. She enjoyed reaching out and hugging the children as often as possible.
Unlike Peter, Jeannie had no family. She was given away at birth. Her mother had been sixteen and the family placed her in foster care. She was put up for adoption but for some reason Jeannie had remained in foster care. She had floated to over six of them in her young years. She had made it a rule not to get too close to anyone. Now, as an adult she still was shy.
A green station wagon was just leaving the parking lot as the mini van drove to the gates of the orphanage. The sun was just setting and the dusty road disappeared into the color of the adobe building. The smell of sulpher filled the air. The five got out of the van and stretched. “Man, what is that awful smell?”
Before anyone had a chance to answer, a middle aged woman came running toward them. “Quick, get inside the gates so we can lock them. We just found a dead body outside the gates. The station wagon just took the woman’s body away. The gangs are rising up again.”
The orphanage and the main building where the missionaries stayed were two separate buildings. The orphanage was buttoned down for the night. The living quarters for the missionaries were in a building with four rooms. In the back room was the kitchen. As you walked into the main room there were several long tables and chairs next to them. On either side was a long wall with two doors. One door led to the women’s quarters and showers on one side and the men’s quarters and showers were on the other side.
Within the women and men’s quarters were several bunk beds. Jeannie sat her suit case down and surveyed the showers. The showers had been fixed according to Ron. The year before Jeannie had to take cold showers. The hot water was too hot and none of the showers had warm water. She tested the shower heads. They were crude at best but the water was warm.
The surrounding area of Mercy Orphanage was a dessert. To have tiled bathrooms and plumbing that worked was an oddity. The neighboring people lived in one of two classes. They were either very wealthy or quite poor. There was no middle class in this section of Mexico. The travel brochures of Cancun Mexico where the tourists stayed were beautiful. Yet, the need for a orphanage such as Mercy was evident as one could see the surrounding small towns.
Cats looked well fed, but the dogs lay in the sun with bloated stomachs from lack of food. Cats could climb into garbage cans but it was harder for dogs to find food. The chicken wired walls on some of the homes nearby were evidence that the economy was poor but people used whatever means they had to find shelter. Some homes were made of dung. There were no manicured lawns, only dusty hard packed earth with cactus here and there.
Yet, no matter what the income was you could always hear guitar music and a party of some sort. Birthday parties for the children were common. Bright paper Mache and lights were strung and sweet cakes were brought in. The people loved their children. Drugs and crime were evident everywhere. Jeannie smiled though as she remembered how it was with the families. As one looked into the faces of poverty, you see they loved their families.
The group put their suitcases away and went back to the dining room. Mattie [the woman who ushered them in] had made supper. A plate of beef and bean burritos with cheese sat in the center of the table. Jeannie’s mouth watered as she smelled this simple dish. The food on the plane was just peanuts.
Everyone was sharing iced tea out of a pitcher. Jeannie helped pour it into glasses. Potato chips rounded out the meal. For desert, Mattie had made chocolate chip cookies. They were huge and everyone ate only two.
The pastor thanked them all for coming and explained what the duties of the week would be. Jeannie was to work in the kitchen. Nancy and Mattie were fun to be around and Jeannie was happy to help with food prep and clean up.
That night it got quite cool as the sun went down. Jeannie snuggled in her sleeping bag and prayed. Something felt different this time as she was in the compound. “I’m just tired.” She thought to herself as she drifted off to sleep.
The girls stirring awoke Jeannie before her alarm clock went off. “It’s time to rise and shine Jeannie girl! We’ve got a lot of hungry people waiting.” Nancy said. The girls scrambled into the showers and got dressed. No one bothered with make up at four a.m. Breakfast was slated to be ready by 6.a.m. The men wanted to begin work on a retaining wall to surround the orphanage. The more morning hours to work the better they would be. Once the hot afternoon sun came, they had to take a break for a hour or so.
Four huge coffee urns were soon perking. Jeannie filled pitchers of water and orange juice and set them on each of the ten tables. Silverware was in place with napkins at each table. The plates were set out next to the buffet table. The smell of sausage and scrambled eggs filled the air. Oatmeal bubbled on the stove and was ladled into saucers on a tray. Toast was made ahead too. It wasn’t hot when the person got it, but making hot toast was a time consuming thing that they didn’t have. Several extra large muffins were set out as well. The children’s tables were in the front of the room, away from the buffet table. They were served their food by Jeannie and Nancy. The children streamed in and took their seats. A boy of about 10 with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes took Jeannie’s attention. He began helping the other children cut up their sausage. A young girl of about 3 was squirming in her seat; the boy looked over to one of the orphanage workers. “Miss Mary, I think Carlotta needs to go” The woman smiled and took the infant to the bathroom.
Jeannie noticed this young boy was called ‘Peter’ and wondered if that was the son of the man she saw on border patrol. He was watching her as much as she watched him. Suddenly she smiled and winked at him. To her surprise he smiled and winked back.
The missionaries piled into the main dining room and a prayer of thanks was said. Soon, the sound of clanking plates and silverware were the only sounds heard. Several thanks were given to the kitchen workers and the crowd left to begin their work out doors.
Miss Mary and another young lady helped the children back to the orphanage where school was to start soon. Peter looked back and found Jeannie watching him. “Thank you” he said. “I will see you later?” Jeannie answered “Oh, yes I will be over soon.”
Jeannie and Nancy took their carts and filled them with the dirty dishes. Mattie took a trash can on wheels and deposited the garbage into it. The kitchen radio was turned to a Christian contemporary station and soon everyone was working and singing at the same time. Time went by fast and soon it was time to clean the showers.
Each day the showers were cleaned and floors swept in all of the rooms in between meal prep. Yet, the main thing Jeannie enjoyed was her time spent at the orphanage. “You run along now Jeannie, we’ll do the rest. You are needed over there more than here.” Said Mattie.
Mattie knew Jeannie’s background quite well. She was careful to listen and know about the women who came to volunteer at the orphanage. Her job was to be the mother figure in this ministry. She was a Titus woman through and through. Jeannie came to the orphanage two months of every year since she was seventeen. Her pastor was a friend of Mattie’s and they had discussed Jeannie at great length. Jeannie was an over achiever and always wanted to please people. Her life in foster care had been difficult. Her first family had ended in divorce for the parents when Jeannie was five years old. Jeannie had difficulty focusing and was diagnosed wrongly with slight mental retardation.
This meant special placement for Jeannie. She was in special classes in school. Two years later it was discovered that Jeannie was dyslexic. Rather than slight mental retardation, she was in fact genius level on her FCAT scores. She became bored in regular school. Yet, while in special classes Jeannie suddenly emerged as a teacher herself. She began to help the other students with their work.
Her teachers soon reported that Jeannie did not need their sort of help, but in fact she had a talent for teaching. She was very creative with telling stories and making up plays for the special needs children to act out for Christmas.
The pastor became involved in Jeannie’s life when she was transferred to a foster family at his church when she was fourteen. The previous foster family had simply decided they wanted out of the system. They were in their sixties. Jeannie still wrote to them.
The pastor suggested Jeannie be allowed to help out in Sunday school and eventually she became a full time teacher at their school. Yet, though Jeannie did well at her job and was very loving; she was unable to shake the feeling of insecurity. Mattie talked at great length with her and she opened up to Mattie without hesitation. She never spoke to her foster parents or even friends back home.
Mattie was unique though. Rather than asking questions that would get a negative response, she listened and commented in the positive. It took a few years for her to get close to Jeannie. They spoke through emails and snail mail during the year. Jeannie’s writing skills made it easy for her to explain her feelings to Mattie. Mattie’s love from the Lord shined through to Jeannie. The two could be seen as mother and daughter. Mattie herself never had children of her own. Her husband died on the mission field and she never remarried. For Mattie, Jeannie was a gift from God.
Jeannie thanked Mattie and took off toward the orphanage with her bible. She was a teacher and loved to teach the children when she came to ‘Mercy Orphanage’. She walked the dusty path and was soon knocking on the door. The door swung open almost on her first knock. “Hello Miss Jeannie!” said Peter, “We’ve been waiting. What are you going to teach today?”
Jeannie walked inside and sat down near the children. The orphanage was able to hold fifty children. At the moment, the orphanage had 39 children. Jeannie knew that others might be coming and so she arranged for something that could be flexible for the children if others needed to join in later. Jeannie was a Sunday school teacher and needed very little tools to keep the children interested in learning about Jesus. “Well, I thought we would put on a play Friday night. We could act out the story of Noah’s ark. Now, I need some people to help with moving things and arranging things on stage and others to be the actors.” The children were delighted. Of the 39 children, four were babies under the age of five. These were to be either taken care of on the day of the play, or dressed up and allowed to run around.
When Jeannie was finished talking to the children, they all piled around to hear her story for the day. Jeannie told the story of Noah to get a fresh perspective for the children. In an hour, the younger children began to get tired. Peter walked little Carlos to his room and tucked him in. Jeannie watched as a little girl named Sarah waited for Peter to kiss her before she took her nap. Peter was a giving person and the children all showed their love for him.
Even the boys who were Peter’s age showed him respect. They followed his lead when the children were ready to go down for a nap and they too helped out. “You are a wonderful helper Peter.” Jeannie said when the boys had all returned.
“Well, I am my father’s son. My father always helps people. Plus, I have things some of these kids do not have. My father loves me and I get to see him every day. I like to help these kids. They are my friends and we have a lot of fun. This is Jorge, Adulio, Hector and Edberto. The three boys stood up and were almost the same size. Adulio was a bit taller than Peter. Peter then told Jeannie their ages. Adulio was the oldest and also the shyest. “These guys and I help out with the children as best we can.”
Just then Manuel walked into the room. Jeannie looked at the slender man with the big smile. “Ah, Peter …are you flirting with all the ladies again?” Manuel grabbed his son and plastered him with a hug. “Peter is my son and I am so proud of him. I am also proud of his friends too.” The boys stood near Manuel and each took turns with mock punches.
Jeannie thought that this was nothing like her life in the foster care homes she had been in. These people acted like family. She had always been on display to get adopted.
“I’m sorry miss” Manuel interrupted her thoughts. “We have not been properly introduced. I am Pastor Manuel Rodriguez, I work at the border patrol and also I help pastor here at the orphanage.” Manuel gave Jeannie a genuine smile.
Jeannie was at a loss for words when she looked into the face of Manuel. His jet black hair and flashing brown eyes was just a backdrop for his gentle smile. Jeannie swallowed and quickly nodded her head. “I am Jeannie Mason. I come here every year but I have never met you sir.”
Manuel laughed and tossed his head back. “Please call me Manuel. I am a part time pastor and full time border patrol person. I started here ten months ago. Peter lives here with me. His mother died a few years ago, and I find it easier to live on the compound so that Peter is looked after.” Manuel stroked the back of his son’s head as he spoke. “Well son, what has this lovely lady been teaching? I’ve heard she is quite the teacher.” He winked at Jeannie and returned his attention to his son.
“We’re putting on a play for the end of the month. It’s going to be Noah’s ark.” Peter’s eyes sparkled as he and his friends told Manuel about the plans.
“Well, I should get back. It was nice meeting you…Manuel.” Manuel nodded and said, “Nice to meet you too Jeannie. See you at supper.”
Jeannie left the happy group and walked back to the kitchen. Mattie was busy making pasta and spaghetti sauce. Nancy was making tossed salad. “Oh, Jeannie! How did everything go?”
Mattie was bursting with questions and soon Jeannie was explaining the plans for the month with the children. “OH that is wonderful” said Nancy. “So many of the children have talent that this will be fun. They can perform for the church services. I’ll speak to the reverend.”
Nancy was the reverend’s sister. Reverend Jack Michaels was a middle aged man in his sixties. He and his wife Sylvia worked very hard in the village to gain confidence of the locals. They had a small home on the end of the compound. Manuel and his son lived in the apartment over the laundry room next door to him.
Soon, the salad dishes were filled and the tables set. At six p.m. the volunteers and the children came and took their places. Manuel stood up and led everyone in a blessing over the meal.
Manuel helped with the children. Jeannie was happy to see that he and his son fed the two babies. Little Lila and Nickolas sat in their high chairs eating spaghetti fed by the father and son. As the group ate their meal, Jeannie and Mattie went back into the kitchen to dish out their dessert.
Tonight’s dessert was a special treat. It was a sort of ice cream cake. Jeannie had made the crust out of ritz crackers and butter. The three large cake pans were lined with the crushed crackers and butter mix. Next she took vanilla ice cream and mixed in lemon pudding. She put the mix into the pans and let it set overnight in the freezer. The women scooped up the dessert and put a little whip cream on top with a sprinkle of crushed crackers for garnish.
The children who had been there a while clapped their hands when the little wheeled cart came out of the kitchen with this dessert. “Wait till you eat Miss Jeannie’s dessert Pastor Manuel. It’s the best ever!” Kitty was now ten years old and had known Jeannie since she was very young.
Soon everyone was enjoying their dessert. Mattie brought out the coffee after the children left to get settled for the night. Before the children left Jeannie was given many hugs and thanks from the children. “We love you Miss Jeannie” was the chorus as the children left the dining room.
Mattie, Nancy and Manuel sat with Jeannie for a while drinking coffee. “Jeannie, a friend of yours is to arrive tomorrow. Joel Lindstrom is coming to help out.”
Joel was a Christian man from Jeannie’s church. He had asked Jeannie to marry him but she felt she wasn’t good enough for him. Jeannie sipped her coffee and became quiet. “I thought he was in Madrid at the shelter.” She said.
Manuel watched as Jeannie became visibly shaky. “Is everything all right Jeannie?” Jeannie looked across at Manuel and put her masked face on.
“OH, no I mean yes everything is fine. I was just surprised is all. Well, I should get things started I guess.” Jeannie got up quickly and raced to the kitchen.
Mattie let out a breath. “I’m not sure this is going to set well. I didn’t tell her that he is bringing his fiancée’.” Nancy and Mattie shared a knowing glance.
“Mind letting me in on this? Maybe I can help.” Manuel was puzzled at the way the women were reluctant to share any information with him. “Well, if you would rather not that is fine.” He sat back and sipped his coffee.
Mattie looked up and made a quick decision. “Jeannie has been rejected in her life many times. She fell in love with Joel and he wanted to marry her.” Nancy watched the kitchen door in case Jeannie came in.
“Perhaps we should discuss this more privately.” Manuel suggested.
“How about if I help Jeannie with the dishes, cleanup and night prep? That would give you a break Mattie, and plenty of time to talk with Manuel. I think this is serious.”
Mattie hugged Nancy. “You’re a doll Nancy. I’d love the break and you are right, this is serious.” Mattie poured her and Manuel a cup of coffee and walked over to the sanctuary with him. The sanctuary of the church was a modest room of painted plaster and adobe. The pews were old cast offs from a local Catholic Church. Yet, everyone could sense the presence of Jesus in that humble sanctuary.
Manuel crossed his legs and sipped the coffee as Mattie spoke. “I love Jeannie very much. She is the closest thing to a daughter I’ve ever had. She knows Jesus as her savior Manuel but she has yet to feel like his adopted child. She wears an orphan spirit.”
Manuel shook his head. “That is so sad. How is Joel connected to this?”
“Jeannie felt that she wasn’t good enough for Joel. He spent almost a year waiting patiently for her to understand the love of God but she still had this feeling that Joel deserved someone else. I think she was so afraid of rejection from him down the road that she ran away first.” Mattie wiped at her eyes. “Manuel, I have written her all year long and phoned a few times as well. She is a special woman with so much love to give. Yet, she is so protective of her heart. She responds out of proportion to unintentional snubs. She does not take correction well, she assumes everyone rejects her.”
Manuel sat quietly for a while. “Wow, I’ve dealt with that one myself. There is only one cure you know. The Lord has to move on her. For the next few weeks I am handling the sermons on Sunday. I will speak to Jack as well. Together we can do a teaching on the ‘Orphan Spirit’. I think it would be helpful for everyone. Yet, I have another question about Jeannie.”
Mattie smiled. “Yes?” Manuel shifted a bit and waited a moment before speaking. “Do you think it’s wise not to tell her of Joel’s fiancé? She needs more time to prepare herself.”
“I will tell her tonight. Is that the only question young man?” Mattie grinned.
Manuel smiled back. “Well, I will have to wait on any other questions. I want to see how this plays out. I’m not looking for a wife on the rebound Mattie. Stop playing matchmaker!” he laughed.
“Oh, you found me out! Well, I can only hope your sermons will be received.” Mattie sat quietly thinking.
Manuel was thinking as well. “We could do this teaching Monday through Friday for a month too. Maybe that is a better idea. I’ll get my thoughts together with Rev. Michaels. Is it all right to update him on the situation with Jeannie?”
“Oh, of course! Manuel, I thank you for this. What a wonderful idea.”
“We will be praying as well Mattie. I guess I’d better go get Peter and get ready to turn in. I’ll see you at breakfast.”
Mattie went to the kitchen after asking the Lord for help in speaking to Jeannie. Jeannie was just putting the last of the dishes away. “Oh, Mattie I didn’t expect to see you. Nancy said you getting some rest. I’m glad you did.”
“There is something I need to tell you sweetheart. Can you sit with me on the porch for a while?” Mattie smiled and took Jeannie’s hand.
Jeannie wasn’t sure she wanted to do this. She had a feeling it was about Joel and she didn’t want to talk about him. She wasn’t sure how she felt, but she didn’t want to talk.
Mattie would not be put off. The little porch on the end of the building was screened off. A few rocking chairs and a love seat were out there. Mattie to a rocking chair and Jeannie sat on the love seat. Both gazed out into the darkness. When the sun goes down in Mexico, the temperatures go down as well. It was in sixties that night. Mattie pulled her afghan around her and handed a blanket to Jeannie. “I did not tell you everything Jeannie. Joel wrote that he was coming only a week ago, but he is not coming alone. He is bringing his fiancé with him.” Mattie waited to let Jeannie take this in.
Jeannie inhaled and exhaled as she looked at her hands. “Well, it’s been over a year. I guess he has a right to go on with his life.” She said.
“The thing is Jeannie, he did not know that you were here. I did tell him of course but it was too late. The plans had been made.”
Jeannie nodded her head. “If you are worried I will be angry, don’t be. I will be kind to her. I will be busy with the children anyway and she can take over my duties in the kitchen if she doesn’t wish to work outside.”
“Oh, Jeannie I was not worried that you would be angry. I was worried that you would be hurt. Child, it is ok to have feelings you know. You really loved Joel. How do you feel about him now?”
Jeannie shrugged. “I honestly do not know. I’m in shock maybe. Thank you for telling me Mattlie! I really am tired. I just want to go to bed now.” With having said that, she got up and walked to the bunk house. Jeannie said her prayers and lay in the dark with her mind in a whirl. She thought of what might have been. Her silent tears came and went and still she lay in the dark. She awoke in the morning not knowing how long she had slept.
The following morning Jeannie worked with circles under her eyes and spoke very little. Mattie tried to get her to talk to no avail. Manuel watched from the corner of the room as Jeannie served toast and oatmeal. “Please God, show us what to do. This is your daughter and she’s so tormented today. Touch her Lord God.” Manuel was walking towards Jeannie when she suddenly turned toward him.
He stopped short of bumping into her. “Good morning Jeannie. I am starting a series on Monday night. It is a teaching on “The Orphan Spirit” I hope you will come. He couldn’t think of what else to say to her. She looked at him with tired bloodshot eyes.
“Yes, I will be there. Mattie told Nancy and I this morning. Are you preaching on Sunday as well?” She knew she was making small talk but her mind was still in a whirl. Suddenly she felt dizzy. Manuel watched her sway and his arm out to steady her.
“You are coming with me.” He steered her towards the door and to the sanctuary. When they were both seated he handed her some tissues. Jeannie sat looking at the tissues and glanced back at him.
“I’m all right. Really I am.” She slowly raised her face to Manuel. “My old boyfriend is bringing his fiancé today. I wish I could hide here.”
Just then Rev. Michaels walked down the aisle. “Oh, hello you two. Jeannie, do you think Mattie would let you stay here today?” He glanced at Manuel and Manuel smiled. “You see, the woman who usually sweeps up and dusts and mops is ill and tomorrow is Sunday. That is, if you wouldn’t mind. You’d have to check and see I guess.” Rev. Michaels was a very sensitive man and knew this was going to be a tough day for Jeannie. He and Manuel had spoken the night before. The weekly teachings would prove to be a valuable tool he thought.
Jeannie blinked and said she would find out and let him know. When Jack walked away Manuel spoke again. “I want to go with you to meet this fiancée Jeannie. They have just arrived. I will be standing right beside you. But I want you to know that the Lord is with you as well. You will get through this, and not alone.”
Jeannie thought a moment and felt a calm settle over her. “Thank you Manuel. That will be wonderful. I really appreciate that.” Jeannie exited the sanctuary with Manuel after they said a brief prayer.
Joel was just closing the trunk when he spied Jeannie walking towards him with a man he did not know.
“Hello” Joel said. He wasn’t sure what to do after that. Barbara came out of the building and wandered towards him. She had been briefed of the situation. Barbara was a sweet girl who loved the lord. She wanted to help if possible.
Jeannie smiled and looked towards Barbara. “Hello, you must be the fiancé I’ve heard of. My name is Jeannie.”
Manuel took Jeannie’s elbow as she walked towards the girl. “This is Manuel; he is a part time pastor.”
Manuel smiled and reached over to shake Barbara’s hand. Joel then introduced Barbara and himself to Manuel. “Well, I know you have things to do and I need to bring Jeannie in to ask Mattie if I can keep her for the day. See you later.”
When they were safely in the kitchen Manuel looked down at Jeannie. “You were very nice. God has a special plan here Jeannie. Do you believe that?” Jeannie nodded her head as she was unable to speak.
Mattie wanted to hug her but didn’t want to cause her to collapse in tears. “Mattie, Rev. Michael’s has asked to have Jeannie work at the sanctuary today. The cleaner is ill. Do you mind?” Mattie smiled.
“Oh, no we can let go of her today. You run along dear. I’ll see you at lunch. “Mattie winked at Manuel when Jeannie wasn’t looking.
Jeannie spent the day praying as she swept and mopped the floor of the sanctuary. She dusted the pulpit and the pews. She picked up the trash and also dusted off the window sills. She found some window cleaner and was just starting to climb the ladder to wash the windows when Manuel came in.
“It’s time for lunch Jeannie. How would you like to sit with me? You can feed one of the babies!” Jeannie was glad for something to do.
Manuel walked with Jeannie to a table and waited for everyone to sit down. Rev. Michaels and his wife were sitting with Jeannie as well. Rev. Michael’s asked the Lord to bless the food and soon everyone was busy eating. The two high chairs were on either end of the rectangular table. Rev. Michael’s wife fed one child during lunch as Jeannie fed the other. That left Manuel and Peter time to talk as they ate.
“Do you think you will be able to throw your voice for our play Papa?” Peter asked.
“Oh yes, the play. I had forgotten I was asked to use my voice as the voice of God. Let’s see, ‘’Noah!” how was that?” Manuel lowered his voice and spoke loudly.
The boys at the next table cheered and Peter announced proudly, “See, I told you my Papa can do anything!” Manuel messed up Peter’s hair and continued eating.
Jeannie went back to the sanctuary after lunch to wash the windows. Manuel came in to speak to her. “I wanted to pray with you about your friendship with Joel and his fiancé. Would you mind?”
Jeannie got down off of the ladder and nodded her head. The two of them sat on a pew and Manuel asked the Lord to intervene and bring a healing to Jeannie’s heart. Manuel asked the Lord to put a new friendship into her life with Barbara. Jeannie prayed for understanding and guidance.
That evening Jeannie and Barbara had a chance to get to know one another better. They shared the bunkhouse for the women. They realized they had much in common. They both loved to cook. They both were teachers as well. Finally, Barbara shared her heart with Jeannie. “I do hope you will be my friend Jeannie. “ Jeannie was surprised to find that she really liked Barbara and she told her so.
“Joel is going to be a happy man with you Barbara. I am glad.” Jeannie fell into a sound sleep and woke up refreshed and ready to serve breakfast along side of Barbara. They laughed together as they worked. Soon, it was time for church.
The little sanctuary was almost filled. Many of the villagers came. Rev. Michaels and Manuel prayed in a room next to the front of the sanctuary. The music began and soon everyone was clapping and praising God. When it was time for Manuel to deliver the message that the Lord gave, the people were ready to listen.
“I am going to begin a teaching that might last a few weeks. It is going to be called “Orphan Spirit”. Many people carry this spirit without even knowing it. Yet in the book of John 14:18 Jesus said “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you”
Now, here at Mercy Orphanage we have a few wonderful young gifts from God who do not have contact with biological parents. Yet, they are not the ones who are burdened down with an orphan spirit. Do you know how I know? Well, there are a few characteristics of someone with an orphan spirit that I do not see in them.
1. They always feel rejection, intended towards them or not
2. They have hatred of authority, general distrust for leaders
3. A person with an orphan spirit backs away from being close, they draw near then back away
4. They have a feeling that they are failures
5. No matter what they do, it’s never enough according to them
6. A person with an orphan spirit always has to prove themselves, they are driven to be a success or number one
7. They feel like they don’t belong
8. They feel like they aren’t wanted
9. They are unable to take criticism well..they see it as rejection
10. They feel insecure, needing to protect themselves and make exit plans
Now, I’m sure there are a few more I’ve missed. But, for now I’m going to look at these characteristics. The word of God speaks to the children of God. Romans 8:15 is quite clear. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship [adoption]. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Some of you know that we have children here who can be adopted. The potential parents are screened and then screened again. There is a reason we are so careful. We want these children to be in a family for the rest of their lives. We do not ever want them to be disowned.
A person with an orphan spirit has a feeling he or she can be disowned. I am here to tell you that can never happen in the family of God.
In Galatians4 4-7 it states “God sent his Son that we might receive the full rights [adoption] of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit calls out Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son.
“But wait, you say...how can I be a slave?” We are a slave to what we are afraid of. If we constantly think someone is out to get us, or reject us than we are in bondage. You have heard me say also that we are a slave to whatever sin we practice. That sin could be sex, drugs, lies etc anything that separates you from God. That sin rules you in that it forces you to live according to it’s demands that end in the destruction of both your body and soul.
Yet, the freedom from an orphan spirit comes by accepting the adoption from God, through Jesus Christ. We who are God’s children have a rich inheritance. We do not have to work to get it. We do not have to live in fear of rejection.
As you know, I work for border patrol. Unfortunately, I have to turn people away who haven’t got the right papers. Yet, if you receive this wonderful adoption spirit through Christ Jesus…you will not be rejected. I will not leave you hanging on this. I will be speaking more tomorrow night at 8 pm. This concludes my message. Come forward, anyone desiring prayer for any reason. We have people who will pray for you.
Jeannie left the sanctuary quietly and went to her bunk. She opened her bible and reread the notes she had taken about the orphan spirit. Though she would never admit it, she found herself in many of those notes. She felt an excitement arise. “We do not have to fear rejection” Manuel had said.
The following day it was decided that Jeannie work with the children and Barbara work in the kitchen. She spotted Joel outside that day. Acting on impulse she went out to speak with him. “I like your fiancé Joel. I hope we can still be friends without awkwardness. I am sorry for how I treated you a few years ago. I had and still have some things to work through. “
Joel smiled. As much as he loved Barbara, he cared about Jeannie. “I want you to be happy Jeannie. You seem to like it here. Maybe you should stay!”
Jeannie smiled up at him. “Well, I do have a job back home. But I love to come here. Are you coming to the teaching tonight? It’s to be a continuation of Sunday’s sermon. Manuel is quite a speaker isn’t he?”
Joel agreed and was going to comment when he was called away. “I’ll see you later Jeannie.” Jeannie smiled to herself as Joel walked away. All of those mixed up feelings about Joel didn’t seem to surface. She felt at peace.
As she walked to the orphanage door she noticed a shadow and turned to see Manuel walking behind her. “Oh, hello. I didn’t see you.”
Manuel was quiet a second and in deep thought. “Oh, hello Jeannie. I guess I didn’t see you.” Again, Manuel was silent and walked with Jeannie.
“Is something wrong Manuel” she asked. It was odd to see him so serious.
Manuel stopped and turned to her. Perhaps I should talk first. Let’s go over to that table under the tree. Jeannie sat down across from Manuel and waited for him to speak.
“I might have to leave this place. I have to talk to Rev. Michaels first. I was fired from my job as border patrol policemen today. They fired three people and I was one of them. I need to find work to support my son and I.” Manuel was in shock at the loss of his job and barely registering what Jeannie was saying.
Jeannie had a discerning spirit about her. “I think I’d like to pray for you before you go on.” Manuel nodded his head and let out a breath. His shoulders sagged and he bowed his head.
“Lord, you knew this was going to take place and we believe you have a plan in progress. We praise you in this storm. I ask that you comfort Manuel now and give him peace as he turns the page into a new life. I pray that as he seeks first the kingdom of God; you will give him the desires of his heart.” Jeannie opened her eyes to see Manuel staring at her with a serious face.
“Thank you Jeannie,” he cleared his throat and continued “I think I will go over and speak with Rev. Michaels first. You go on in and start your lessons. If my son saw me out here, just tell him I am coming in to see him later.”
Jeannie nodded and got up. Without thinking of it, she hugged Manuel before going into the building where the children waited for her. Manuel stood a moment and shook his head. “Mattie was right; she does have a loving heart.”
He went to see Rev. Michaels. He knocked softly on the front door and waited for someone to open it. He waited for quite a while and then knocked again. A very tired and frazzled Rev. Michaels answered the door. “Oh, hello Manuel. I was asleep on the couch and thought I heard knocking. I hope I didn’t keep you long.”
Manuel came inside and sat down next to Jack. “I have some bad news and I might have to leave the orphanage.”
He looked up as the Rev. took in a sudden gasp of air. “No, you can’t be serious. We need you here”
“It can’t be helped. It’s not what I want. You see, I was fired as border patrol police today. I have no way to support my son and I. I will try to find work nearby but I doubt I can find anything.” Manuel was distraught to think he disappointed Jack. He truly loved the man like a brother.
“How much do you need to earn Manuel?” Manuel explained his earnings and to his friend. Jack sat back and went into his desk drawer. He pulled out a letter he had received earlier that day. “As you know, we survive on donations from many places including our founding church. The church just sent this to me. I will read it to you.”
Dear Rev. Michaels,
Thank you for your hospitality when our representatives came to see the orphanage. We wanted to see how our monies are being handled and also see the ministry first hand. We feel we must apologize for not doing this sooner.
It has come to our attention that you do many things with very little funds. We know that you have a part time pastor to help you. We were wondering if we sent the required funds if you could find a full time pastor instead. It is not that we feel this man of yours unworthy, but we know he has a full time job and wouldn’t expect him to work two full time positions.
Please think this over and get back to us. We trust your judgment in this matter.
In Christ’s love
Dr. Fordyce Miles
Faith Tabernacle Churches of United States
Jack wiped his eyes and put the letter down. “I have prayed and tried to come up with a way to tell you that we really need a full time pastor. I was physically ill to think you would have to leave this way. But, you see God had it all planned out ahead of time Manuel.
The salary is more than what you were making. I will go over the details later. Oh, I forgot to mention that your housing would be free. I truly need you Manuel.” Jack was in tears as he was so happy. Manuel flew to his friend and they held on to each other for a long time. They sat down and prayed together. “Father thanks you for allowing this wonderful union of Manuel and me. Two hearts could never be more one in the vision of this orphanage. We love you and pray you will give us the strength to continue to serve.”
Manuel was so taken back that he sat quiet for a while. “Lord, this is so much more than I ever hoped for. Thank you Father. “
It was a brand new man who walked into the orphanage that day. Jeannie stopped what she was doing and waited for Manuel to speak.
The children surrounded him with questions but he said very little. He hugged them all and then asked Peter if he would come outside with him. Peter and his father went to the table under the tree to talk.
“I have wonderful news Peter. God has found a way for me to work here as a full time pastor. I was fired as border patrol today. There was no reason given. I did nothing wrong.” He waited for Peter to burst with questions.
Peter smiled at his father. “I know you didn’t do anything wrong Papa. I prayed that you would be able to be here with us all of the time. I wanted you here and not there. I am proud of what you did Papa, but you are a Pastor and we need you.”
Manuel smiled at his son’s faith. “I will tell the others but I wanted to tell you first. I love you Peter and I am so proud to be your Papa.”
“Are you happy?” Peter looked up into his father’s smiling face.
“Oh, yes son. Very happy indeed.”
The two walked into the building and Manuel delivered the news to all of the children. Everyone was happy and excited. Jeannie found herself very happy for Manuel.
That night Manuel told his story to everyone who came to the Monday night teaching. Everyone clapped their hands. ‘Now I will begin my second lesson on the ‘Orphan Spirit’. What happened to me today has a lot to do with this issue. I was raised in a large family with a lot of love. Yet, for some reason I felt like I didn’t belong. The devil would put thoughts in my head all of the time. Thoughts like “I you disappear, no one will miss you.” “You don’t really belong here” “You are in the way” “You can’t really be yourself or they will not want you around”. Imagine carrying that garbage around. Today when I was told that I no longer had a job at the border patrol I was sad. I wondered what I would do to provide for my son. I did not want to leave this place. But, I did not feel abandoned. I knew the Lord had a plan. I was hurting to leave this place because you see, in my heart this is my home and you are my family.’
The people all clapped and said ‘Amen’ when Manuel made that last statement. Manuel smiled and began talking again. “I thank you all. You have made me feel valued and I appreciate that. But, even if you did not, I would still feel valued because my Father in heaven values me. I know this because he sent his son to die for me. I know this because I read it in His word too. Galatians 4 verse 7 states “No longer a slave, but a son…and an heir of God through Christ” He calls me his son! The creator of all actually calls me his son.
Now, I ask you ‘Is God a liar?’ No of course not. Can we trust his word? I believe we can. The question is, do you? When we hear things in our mind like what I have told you I used to hear, we can know that it does not come from God. It comes from our own doubts or it comes from the pit of hell. Remember, even if your mother and father abandon you, God says he will never abandon you. Even if you have no friends you have a friend in God. He is the perfect friend. That is why we can know that what He says is true.
Yet, so many do not accept the free gift of adoption from God Almighty. They sit back believing the lies of the devil. I’m telling you that even in our midst in church there are those who have been lied to. People who believe in Jesus Christ and have asked him to be their savior are still under the orphan spirit and living according to that bondage.
Tonight, I will end this teaching with quiet reflection. I’m going to let the music play and I want you to close your eyes and just think about what I have said. “Manuel turned on the music and remained at the podium. ‘Ask yourself, ‘Do I feel free? Can I be myself without worrying if I’ll be rejected? Am I insecure in my relationships? Do you find that you take offense easily when someone points out a mistake you’ve made? The Father wants you to know that He accepts you and you are valuable in His eyes.” The music played on and everyone sat thinking over what the pastor had said. When the music ended six people were up front asking for prayer. Jeannie was not among them.
Each day Jeannie kept busy with preparations for the play. Manuel was there to help out. His part in the play was lengthened due to his not having to work at the border patrol. Without Jeannie realizing it, Manuel was fasting and praying that Jeannie would be whole. The children were very excited when Miss Jeannie taught them bible verses and created ways to include them in all of the lessons. The rehearsals for the play were in the afternoons. The children helped making scenery as well as memorized their parts.
Each night the sanctuary was packed full for either Manuel or Jack to teach about the orphan spirit. Friday night was the last night of this teaching. So far, Jeannie had not opened up to receive it. When she came into the sanctuary and sat down next to Manuel, she felt like she should move somewhere else. “I’m sorry, I should be sitting in the back.” Jeannie got up quick but Manuel grabbed her hand.
“No, I believe I’d like your company up here if you don’t mind.” He smiled and waited to see if she would bolt out of the room. Unseen by the human eye, there was a battle going on inside of Jeannie. On one hand she wanted to sit down, and on the other she felt she wasn’t supposed to sit in the front row where the pastors sat. Yet, he did ask her. After a long ten seconds staring into Manuel’s face, she sat back down.
Jack stood up to the podium and took a drink of water. Before I say anything, I want you to turn to the person next to you and greet them. Manuel turned to Jeannie. “I’m glad you decided to stay.” Jeannie’s face went red. She managed to smile though.
The praise and worship band began to play. The music filled the sanctuary for almost a half hour. Everyone was uplifted by the time Rev. Michaels went back to the podium.
“Since last Sunday, you have heard what the orphan spirit is about. To refresh your memory I want to give you some thoughts about how a person acts who struggles with this.
1. They are insecure with relationships
2. They take offense easily when authority or anyone else gives them criticism
3. They feel a constant need to protect, or defend themselves
4. They never feel like they belong anywhere but in the back
5. They feel rejection easily
6. They have a plan to escape any situation just in case
7. They feel unwanted
8. They start to get close to someone and then pull back
9. They have a drive to succeed and are often workaholics, needing to prove themselves.
10. They always feel like failures or not good enough for anything or anyone
11. I am going to add this one other thought. Most people are unaware they have this problem. Yet, until it is healed; they lack any real direction or peace in their life.
So, I have in my handouts the list I’ve read just now. Some friends are passing the handouts to you. Peter and Jorge got up with the papers and passed them out.
Jeannie looked at the list and suddenly saw some familiar ways of thinking. Her heart started to pound as she lifted her head to look at Jack. Manuel was praying and noticed the change in her. Her breathing sped up and she became rigid. He prayed for the Holy Spirit to hold her in place until the end of the teaching. She looked like she was ready to bolt.
Jack began to speak when the boys sat down. If you see some things that resemble yourself, do not panic. The Lord always corrects his own children. He shows them things. A good parent wants their children to see their mistakes so they can be corrected. Are we to the point where we no longer need correction? God forbid. I stand before you today in all honesty. God speaks to me every day and I walk the road like any other man.
But, just seeing the pattern and knowing what it is, is not enough. We spend too much time in our society today pondering over the past and not going forward. Yet, Jesus didn’t say go back and see why you are this way. No, Jesus said ‘Follow me’ or ‘come unto me’ He knew we could be led astray. So, he became our leader, our light in a dark place.
The only cure for a ‘Orphan Spirit’ is to remember Romans 8:15 “But you received the spirit of adoption” Fix your minds looking up and not back. For you were bought with a price. Precious ones of God, you are no longer orphans but heirs to the kingdom of God! For those of us who have wonderful Fathers, that is wonderful. But, God the Father is even better. Some of us have no fathers or bad fathers even. Look up! You are adopted into the kingdom of God through Jesus Christ!
Receive it, just receive the adoption papers. They all ready have your name on them. You are accepted and loved and belong. Every lie of the enemy is dead when you believe what the word of God says. He is your daddy God! You can be secure in knowing that you are his child. He wants you to have this message and be confident as you walk this earth.
There are just a few steps you might want to take. Anyone who feels that this message applies to them, step forward. Jeannie was visibly shaking and Manuel was ready. He took her arm and lifted her from the chair. The two of them walked towards Jack. Several others were making their way to the front of the room as well.
When everyone was finished moving, Jack spoke. “Do you believe that God is a truthful God and a good God? Just answer that yes or no.” Everyone said yes. “The Holy Spirit has opened your eyes here tonight. No me or Pastor Manuel during the week, but the Spirit of the Living God has opened your eyes and now I want you to focus your attention on Him as I come and pray for you all.”
One by one Jack went down the line and prayed. Jeannie and Manuel were at the end. Yet, Manuel had begun praying softly since Jeannie had risen from her chair. His arm slipped to her waist to steady her as she had become shaky. Mattie had come forward and stood on her other side to brace her as well. Jack put his hand on Jeannie’s head. “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness and truth, who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, and forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin” That is Exodus 34 4-7 Jeannie, in the name of Jesus I pronounce you free from any orphan spirit. You belong here; you were made for just such a time as this. Your heavenly Father is drawing you with arms of love. Come into your inheritance. Step forward, now, step quickly and step into your future as a free adopted child. “
Jeannie did step forward that day. Jack put his arms around her and welcomed her into a whole new life
Jeannie sat back down and watched as the sanctuary was filled with music and people sitting on the floor or praising God. Manuel sat with her and watched the transformation on her face. When it was time to leave, Jack, Sylvia and Mattie sat with Jeannie and Manuel. The children and the villagers went home. “How about I make some coffee and we can visit over a table of coffee and oatmeal cookies?” said Mattie.
They walked into the dining hall and sat down. Joel and Barbara came in to join them. Joel looked at Jeannie and was stunned to see the expression of joy on her face. “You look amazing Jeannie” he said. Jeannie turned her head and smiled. “I feel amazing!”
Manuel and Jack shared a wink. They knew that God had done a miracle and it would be a lasting miracle. The following weeks went by in a blur for them. The children’s play was almost ready to be shown. Peter was at Jeannie’s side most of the time. She had her arm around Peter so often that Peter expected it.
Jeannie was getting bolder and more confident with herself in many situations. She spoke to Mattie one evening about something on her heart. “Mattie, can we sit on the porch. I want to ask you something.”
“Sure, I’d love a break from this kitchen.” Mattie held out some lemonade for Jeannie and they sat down. “What is it?”
“I don’t want to leave Mexico, at least not yet. I am not sure if it’s because I’m afraid of going back to my old life and not having this peace or if it’s because the Lord is calling me here. Also, there is Manuel.”
Mattie was jumping on the inside but kept a calm outer look. “What about him?”
“I’ve gotten so used to having him around that when he is not around I feel lost. I’m not sure but I think I am in love with him. But, nothing has been indicated of any feelings from him.” She giggled. “I sound like an idiot don’t I.”
Mattie reached over and lifted her hand. “No, you do not. I have eyes and I’ve seen the way you look for him. Let’s pray about this. “ The two women prayed for guidance.
When they were through praying, Mattie sat back in her chair. “Jeannie, I think you should call your pastor and ask for a leave of absence. I think you need some time here to see if it’s real or just the euphoria of a new miracle. Either way, we do not have a full time teacher at the orphanage. It does not pay, but I’d make sure you were fed and you could move in with me if you like.”
Jeannie agreed this was a good idea. The following day she went to Jack and told him of her plans, leaving out her feelings for Manuel. “I think that’s wonderful Jeannie!”
The afternoon sun was coming up and Jeannie was in the school room with the children when Manuel came inside. He sat quietly and watched. Jeannie was totally animated as she spoke to the children of the coming night’s play. Excitement was in the air. Manuel smiled as his son came over and hugged Jeannie.
When school was over and the children went their separate ways Manuel stood up to leave. Jeannie found in sitting on a bench near a tree. He was deep in thought.
“Hi” Jeannie said. Manuel’s head jerked up. “Oh, I didn’t hear you. I guess I was deep in thought. This month has flown by. You will be leaving soon.”
“Well, actually I am staying on a while longer.” Jeannie waited to see a reaction. When Manuel’s face lit up she was encouraged.
“Manuel, I am glad that makes you happy.”
Manuel smiled and reached for her hand. “Yes, that’s makes me very happy. I will miss you when you leave. Perhaps I can talk you into staying permanently.” His face flushed and at first Jeannie thought it was the weather. When the grin didn’t leave his face she suddenly caught on.
“I don’t want to go back. I think the Lord made a home for me here. But, I have to wait to be sure. I have prayed and asked for a special thing.” Jeannie looked over and then away.
Manuel started to laugh. “Oh, Jeannie you do not have a poker face. Come here, tell me now. What is that special thing?”
Jeannie scooted closer to Manuel. She reached over and whispered into his ear. Manuel nearly shouted, “Say that again!”
Four months later Manuel and Jeannie were wed. So, what was that special thing? You’ll have to guess!