When several days have passed and my heart has not been re-broken(upon introduction) for a new child, family, situation, I am thankful for a rest but know my eyes will be opened to something else soon. Even though I have only been living this life for around 2 months, I pray every day that seeing these things/this type of suffering is never normal, however ‘common’ they are. The thought that I would ever get to a place where coming upon an abandoned child or a starving family or a sick baby does not cause the same deep emotions and heart pain I am experiencing nearly everyday scares me to death. The pain is not enjoyable but it makes me feel so close to Him—like we are feeling the same thing together for these people. I will take the fiercest love-induced pain over numbness ANY DAY.
Today, I haphazardly ended up going with a friend to meet a family in the community that he checks on periodically (it’s near HOREC). I had little expectations and just prayed this morning that He would prepare me for anything—expecting to meet another family who is struggling financially and discerning how it is He wants me to respond to the needs I see. As we walked towards their home, I had a poor attitude as the houses surrounding this one seemed fairly nice and I was not looking forward to what I expected in that moment….meeting (and being asked to help) someone who spent all of their money on a ‘nice’ house and now can’t afford to feed their children. We came upon the home—an old mosquito net covering several chickens in the first thing I saw. I thought “okay, they have chickens. They cannot be thaaaat poor. They can sell the eggs and breed more chickens and eat/sell the meat.” When no one answered as we knocked, we went into the house. I felt uneasy about going in while they were out, but my friend insisted. When we went in, I would have guessed no one lived there—that it was abandoned. Surely no one lived here, we had the wrong house and that is why no one answered. But then as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw John. My friend greeted him and as my eyes continued adjusting to the pitch black, I walked over and sat on the bed next to John-I could finally make out his face. We greeted each other…. Me by looking in his eyes and holding his hand, he by touching my face and making a groaning noise.
He was the size of a 5 year old but his eyes suggested he was older. He was wearing a dirty sweatshirt and nothing else. As I sat next to him and took in his gaze, I noticed he was tied to the bed. It soon made sense as I learned quickly that it was not just his mind that was affected, but his body too. He had little muscle control and could hold his head up for only around 15 seconds before it would drop. He was covered in drool and if you could see my arm now, you would think I had been attacked by a cat as his way of communicating with me was grabbing/scratching my arm and touching my face. His eyes never diverting from mine, they showed a bit of pain but more joy than pain. A small girl came in (Wangeshi-his sister who is 3 years old) with orange cornrows. I used to always think it was so cute that some kids had orangeish hair, but then I learned it is a sign of extreme malnutrition. After Wangeshi, a teenage girl arrived (Susan-14 year old sister)—she had been fetching water and apologized for not being there to receive us when we arrived. The excitement that filled John’s entire body when she walked into the house brought tears to my eyes. He cannot hold his head up by himself, but this boy can dance when he sees someone he loves! Also, I got to see the most beautiful smile appear and not depart for the rest of our time there.
Susan and I untied him from the bed and dressed him—it was obvious he was eager to be moved from the bed. We held his arms and he showed off by standing tall and strong and then we danced some more and laughed a lot. He became tired after several minutes of this, so Susan took him outside and placed him on the ground. Here he ran around (or scooted on his butt) the sun-covered yard with such delight. Every second our eyes moved from him, we found him eating rocks, trash, or chicken poop—he needed much supervision but it was clear he received so much joy from this small act of freedom. His mother later arrived from working in a field nearby and graciously offered us tea. The poorest people are absolutely the most generous—I see that every day. We were luckily able to blame full stomachs to resist the generous offer that would surely leave them just a bit deeper in poverty than they were when we came. Grace, the mother of John, Susan, Ruth, Joyce, and Wangeshi exemplified just what her name suggested. GRACE. Since birth, John (age 15—yes. 15. The size of a 5 year old.) has been unable to walk/mentally unable to communicate. She told me he has never seen a doctor—I clarified about a million and five times because this shocked me. He has never been to a doctor, but she told me he has epilepsy which is to blame for his physical and mental condition. I have no idea of the accuracy of this, but it is all I have heard so far.
Imagine your first born is in this state-then you have another child to care for. And another. And another. And another(the first 4 children are all within 4 years of each other). Your husband eventually left you because you produced this sort of baby (who is usually abandoned to die and not provided for as it is an embarrassment to the village/sign of a curse). So now you are alone and caring for 5 children-one special needs. How is she supposed to work? Even when the children are older, can she leave this boy alone by himself? Can she work hard enough to provide for them AND afford to take him to see a doctor? And what if the doctor prescribes medication? How in the world will she find a way to pay for that? He needs a wheelchair? If getting food on the table is this big of a problem, how will the family be able to afford this large added expense. Well, this woman-Grace, has been given enough grace to take care of this sweet child for 15 years. No, he is not in the finest occupational/physical/speech therapy and yes, he is usually covered in drool and is not living the life she wants for him, but she has given her life to care for him. She works SO hard and I know this because my friend has watched her for years and been amazed with her determination. She is willing to do any and every thing to enable her children to survive.
I did not have my camera with me because it’s big and bulky and I just don’t like carrying it with me… feel too much like a sight seer. But, next time I go to visit John and the family, I will take pictures to share. I will show you his sweet smile and hope to video tape his precious dance. :)
I want to take him to the hospital—I know of one here through a friend that specializes in pediatric orthopedic cases. I am hoping to take John as soon as I can… does anyone want to help with this? Right now I have no earthly idea what the medical plan will be – What is his diagnosis? Is treatment even available? What does treatment plan look like? I have so many questions right now but there are so so so many things that can be done to help this family. Even if no medical improvements can be made for John (though I am praying that something can be done), we can help to clothe their children-assist with food so that little Wangeshi can have black braids instead of orange ones-improve the living conditions so John is in a safer environment-approach the throne on their behalf. So much. I refuse to believe we are helpless because his legs might never work and his brain damage is too severe to reverse… that is a lie. It is a lie to believe that nothing can be done, we just have to figure out what needs to be done and how to do it. That is what I am doing here—I am seeing the needs because He is peeling back my eyes and I am seeing things that need to be shared with other believers. We are all called to care for the poor, hungry, sick, orphaned and if I keep what/WHO I see here to myself and try to do this alone, I am doing you a disservice as my brother or sister in Him. Perhaps you will never feel John touch your face and receive his love in that way and perhaps you will never meet his precious family… but actually, I was thinking about how I think he will be able to run and jump and talk and play and whatever else he’s been missing out on during his time on this earth once He is with the Lord—what an incredible reunion he will have with those of you who pray for him; those of you that contribute to help me pay his medical bills; those of who share God’s affection for him. That is not supposed to be a corny slogan to put at the end of a blogpost so people feel guilty and decide to give their prayers, their money, their things… He SAYS again and again we will be so highly rewarded in Heaven when we care for these people on earth and I truly think the greatest reward I can imagine will be the reuniting of us with these friends in Heaven—where all of the pain, injustice, fear, suffering is GONE. Where we are together singing, in every tongue, praises to the Father who has brought us to Himself, despite all of the crap any of us were subject to on this earth. Just thoughts. Will post pictures/more info as soon as I have them. Thanks for caring, because I know you do and I am really thankful for that.