Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Because of Belinda

I have sat down to write this post what feels like a thousand times. Each time all of the feelings I had built up inside of me suddenly lose their words and all that is left is this ache. This quickly swirling pool of emotions. How do I adequately process how I feel while still honoring all parties involved including the precious girl who will otherwise fade into a distant memory? It has taken me many days for it to be well with my soul instead of desperately wanting someone to pay for the tragedy that was her death. The reality is that it isn’t one person’s fault for her death, but that doesn’t make me feel better. Some days I have this intense guilt. The kind of guilt that makes me feel like I am partly to blame for the fact that she will never draw another breath here on earth. No matter what I did to try to help, I could have always done a little more. Some days I want to let it eat at me. I want to let the intense sadness wash over me like waves because in a way I feel that it is my punishment for the part I feel I played in her death.

I suppose the hardest part to deal with is not the who or the how or the why, it’s the where. Everyone has heard the quote that says “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” What that quote fails to ask is “if a tree falls in a forest and the only ones around to hear it will never be able to tell about it, does it make a sound?” For some reason, a frail little life was breathing her last surrounded by the only family she has ever known, 6 others just like her who cannot walk or communicate their wants, hurts, and needs. Why, oh why would God subject them to that? I have so many questions that I have been wrestling with to the point that I find myself unable to sleep through the nights lately. Did she make any noise? Did it happen while she peacefully slept? Were the rest of the kids awake? Did they know it was happening? Was she laying there screaming out for help as they silently looked on unable to do anything? Do the things they saw that night play over and over in their heads? Are they still able to sleep okay at night? Do they even realize she is gone? How do you even process witnessing a traumatic death with 6 little individuals who have varying degrees of severe special needs?

Thinking about all of these things just makes me angry. She never would have even been there if she had never been abandoned all of those years ago alone in a hospital. She would have gone straight from her mother’s arms into the loving arms of our Savior instead of lying in a bed alone with no one to comfort her while she was dying. She may have never even gotten to the point of death if someone had come alongside her mommy to teach her what a gift she had been given rather than an unmanageable burden. Maybe she never would have gotten down to 22lbs at the age of 7 years old if she hadn’t been one of the ones to “slip through the cracks” during a pretty nasty custody battle.
I could spend all day mulling over the regrets and recounting the sadness that surrounded every aspect of Belinda’s death, but here’s what I do know. Because of Christ’s great love for us, Belinda was never truly “forgotten.” She has felt true love on this side of heaven. Her birth mommy felt that she loved her child so much that she herself was too inadequate to accept the challenge of raising her so she gave her up with hopes for a better life. Belinda was loved with every fiber of Yemima, Dwinie, David, Anna, Catinie, and Lape’s being because they knew no different. She was truly cherished by her nanny Rose Laure who knew what it meant to daily pour love into these 7 beautifully “broken” children because each and every one of their lives matter. Love is each and every painstaking spoonful of blended spaghetti dropped into her mouth even if it took over an hour to finish a child size portion of food. All because Rose Laure knew she was worth it. So many of those that met her, loved the stuffins out of her because they saw her the way Jesus saw her. Best of all, right now, right this very second, every single inch of that beautiful baby’s body is healed. Every single scar has been renewed, every single hurt, every single pain, the effect of every single seizure has been wiped away and her body has been made completely new as she is dancing with the Father. Belinda now gets to live with her Daddy, and gets to dance, and run, and play. Which is far more than we could have ever imagined for her here on earth.

My first Haitian funeral was for a 7 year old little girl. A child I have known for 5 years. A child I have seen blossom and grow. The day of her funeral was one of the most beautiful days we have had in a long time. Her funeral was held in a tiny church near the ocean. Standing in the doorway of that tiny church, I could still feel the warm sunshine on my back and the salty air coming off of the ocean in my hair as I entered a dark and heavy room filled with sadness so thick it could be cut with a knife. In the back of the tiny church laid a young woman who was in the process of meeting her Maker. In the front was a little bright blue coffin that had plastic silver handles nailed into the sides with tin nails. Obviously due to Haitian time being a thing, I was the first to arrive even though I was 35 minutes late. I didn’t know what to do. So I sat in the front of the church in front of Belinda’s coffin, which was about 5 feet away from the dying girl on the floor in the back. The pastor and her parents were alternating between praying for her and crying out in agony. It was a weird place to be. But up in the front of the church next to the little blue box, it was weirdly peaceful. Eventually the young woman left her earthly body and the family began searching for a vehicle to come and remove her body. A couple of times I had to stand outside the church for a few minutes to regain my composure as the stench of death became more than I thought I could bear.

About an hour after I arrived at the tiny church, the funeral began. I looked around the room and children under the age of 12 made up 90% of those who were in attendance. My mind then shifted from grieving for the little girl in the blue box to grieving for each little body seated on those rickety benches in front of me. I grieved for their minds, their hearts, and their eyes. I grieved for the childhood had been robbed from them each time one of their brothers or sisters died. I grieved for the loss of innocence for they too felt the same weight of death pressing down on them as I felt inside those four cement walls. I so desperately wanted to envelope each and every one of them and never let go until I knew their world would be safe again. But the reality is, it won’t and I can’t. I could try with every fiber of my being but I am inadequate. Only God can comfort the hurting so deeply they begin to believe in His promises again and feel safe even when the rest of the world around them is crumbling. He would have to do that for each and every one of these kids. I have no doubt He will. His hand of protection can be seen all over their lives the past few years and He is not about to stop now. I can rest in knowing that.

I say all of that to say this. Death is hard in any country, for everyone, from every walk of life. I find what gets me the most is the death that is preventable being the hardest to swallow. The death that seemed otherwise unnecessary had a situation been different. This my friends, is why we are answering God’s call to start Promise Harbor Family Center. All children deserve to be loved and valued. A child should never be described as having been “forgotten” or “slipped through the cracks.” I will do everything in my power to empower families of special needs children to realize the value and the gift that they have been given. I will uplift them to strive for nothing but they best for themselves and the children God has given them. I will allow myself to be spent on behalf of my Savior so that children like Belinda do not even have to find themselves wasting away in institutions but rather surviving and thriving right in their own homes. Because of Belinda I will press on harder than ever towards following the call that has been given to me and march on in complete obedience to Christ.

Belinda Joseph 2009-2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

That Faith Place

Myself and a few other missionary women in our area are going through Priscilla Shirers “Armor of God” Bible study. This week is all about the shield of faith. Priscilla called us to identify that part of our lives which she calls “that faith place.” She defines it as the act of stepping into a situation or circumstance where you put yourself into a position for God to have to come through. It didn’t take me long to immediately identify this current season as my “that faith place.” Ever since God placed the call to start Promise Harbor on my heart, each step of the way has required faith that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). My road in Haiti has been as long as it has been hard, but I feel that none of it compares to the road just over the horizon. Satan would love to use this to allow doubt and fear of failure to take over. Each time I start to get discouraged, the Lord sends me another sign that He is still there and going before me each step of the way. I don’t have to do anything except to put one foot in front of the other and allow Him to direct me.

The vision for Promise Harbor has grown in so many ways. The Lord has revealed some great ways in which we could turn this into something that always moves in a direction toward total empowerment rather than enablement. That is what my heart truly desires for this place. Not only for the families we serve to be impacted and uplifted but also empowered. I always want to be cautious to keep the main thing the main thing. Right now, the main thing is getting the daycare up and running. We need to finish equipping the house for everything we need to begin hiring staff and accepting children into our program.

Some of the things that need to be completed in the house in order to open our doors are: purchase and finish painting the interior of the house, create a cemented play area on the backside of the house that will allow for outdoor play therapy, and build our storage units, office desk, and gates for the rooms.

After everything is finished inside of the house, all that is left for us to do in order to be ready to open is: hire and train staff, and interview and enroll the children and their families.

Our desire is to run the first 6 to 8 months of the daycare as a pilot program. We want to keep our number of kids to no more than 12. Due to the fact that this type of program does not really exist in Haiti, there will most definitely be kinks to work out in the daily operation of the daycare, as well as, in how we provide the best care for our children and their families. We want to spend the first 6 to 8 months figuring out what works best and what doesn’t before we enroll more than 12 kids in the program.

For the start up of the program, we will need to hire 6 staff members. Four staff members will work directly with the children on a daily basis. One staff member will be in charge of the children’s nutrition (preparing one big meal and 2 small snacks each day), and one additional staff member will be in charge of set up and tear down as well as light cleaning at the end of each day. We cannot begin to hire staff if we cannot pay them. So without further adieu…..

Our first fundraiser for Promise Harbor Family Center is called Pennies of Promise. Heres how it works.

We need 150 people to commit to a one time donation. Each donation has to be between the amounts of $1-150. No two people can choose the same number. If you want to give an amount that is already given, we can split your donation up between two or three different numbers that add up to the number you feel led to give. What is awesome about this fundraiser is that the most anyone can give is $150, but if all the numbers get chosen, we will have raised over $11,000. That will cover all of our start up cost as well as our operating costs and staff salaries for the first 5 months!
If you would like to pick a number, send me an inbox message or a comment in the comments box on facebook, or send me an email to lydia.deputy@gmail.com telling me which number you choose. I will update the number chart at the end of each day so you can see what numbers are still available! All donations can be sent via paypal to my username in2africa09@gmail.com, mailed in check or cash form to my parents house at 8 Wadsworth Dr. East Berlin, PA 17316, or handed to any of my family members in an envelope with your name on the front so that we know who the donation came from.

Feel free to share this with your friends, coworkers, and families! The more people that know about it and give, the closer we get to our goal. Feel free to share our facebook page to help people better understand the mission and vision of Promise Harbor Family Center. We also need a lot of people that will commit to pray for us as we begin this big endeavor and that Christ will be glorified because of our obedience.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

AHOY THERE! I have some very exciting news to share with you all!!! 

               As of Friday February 28th, I finished my yearlong commitment with CHM. It was a year that I gained many insights and new experiences which grew me in many ways that I did not know were possible. One of the best things that came out of my year with CHM is that I grew ever closer to the Lord and allowed him to speak into me and through me. It was during this last year that He revealed to me His plan for my next step in Haiti. During my year with CHM, I came across many special needs children. As you can imagine with a malnutrition center, we see many special needs children as they are some of the most medical and nutritionally fragile little beings. In a country where even a healthy child sometimes has a hard time maintaining a healthy weight, you can imagine the struggle for a child who is medically fragile to maintain a healthy size for survival, much less gain weight. It often becomes an uphill losing battle. We saw the same story over and over again. Children with neurological issues that came to us long, lanky, and skinny. Their parents were puzzled why they were 4 years old and could not hold their heads up or sit by themselves much less crawl and walk. These children were not welcomed into the program because of their disability. Although they were in great need of nutritional support, they were barred from entering the program due to our program protocols. A child in the malnutrition program is supposed to be up to their goal weight by a maximum time of 8 weeks. After a few trial and errors, it was evident that most special needs children were incapable of being successful in the program. They would be what we called “lifers.” They would require a lifetime of nutritional support if put into the program. The battles a special needs child faces in Haiti does not stop after nutritional support. One of the major struggles for the parent of a special needs child in Haiti is finding help or resources for their child. Largely due to superstition and general condemning of those outside the norm, the parent is required to stay home with the child day in and day out unable to work to provide for the rest of the family because there is no one to watch their totally dependent child during the day. This becomes a seemingly impossible obstacle which often ends in the parent seeking to find an orphanage to leave their child in but not for lack of love; rather a lack of options.

               My innate love and passion for the special needs children of Haiti has led me up to this point. To realizing that I have a unique opportunity to provide a resource for parents of special needs children and their parents. So it is with great excitement and bated breath that I would like to share with you that my husband, Cold, and I will be embarking on a journey to open Promise Harbor Family Center. It is a daytime care facility for special needs children who are too low functioning and/or too young for school. We hope it will become a place where parents of special needs children can entrust their precious cargo to us during the day while they work to provide for the rest of their family all the while feeling at peace that their children are receiving the best care possible. The most important part is that their children are waiting for them to come and pick them up again at the end of the day to return home as a family. Promise Harbor Family Center will also become a safe haven for these parents to receive love and support in this great journey they have been chosen to travel. For their children, this could mean the difference between death and life, failing and thriving.

Parents will have the opportunity to use our daytime services 6 days a week (normal working days in Haiti, tweaked to include our towns biggest open market days). Their children will receive daily therapy exercises and stimulation, as well as, nutritious meals each day. We chose the name Promise Harbor because we want to recognize the potential that each child has, as well as, the potential to raise up a stronger family unit, and we want the family center to be an oasis, a water source in the middle of a desert, of safety and support for all who come through our doors. We cant wait!

STAY TUNED to hear how you can be a part of Promise Harbor and begin making an impact in the lives of these children and their families TODAY!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Behind the Belly II

Each Tuesday and Thursday I am face to face with swollen belly upon swollen belly. Getting to do new admit forms for them is one of my favorite things. I love to go and sit among them rather than face them from across a long white table. I want to sweat in between them, make jokes about how many babies I think they are carrying due to their size, sympathizing with them about how swollen their feet are getting, being grossed out about how many of them spit almost constantly throughout their pregnancy (yes its a thing). Sometimes they joke back with me and asking me if I've actually ever even had children as I explain how to use our birthing kits when the baby arrivesas if I'm a professional. I let them tell me that they think I will cry a lot and how children cause a lot of misery because they almost always grow up to be disobedient.
As usual, I get attached to one....ok a lot of them...but sometimes theres one in particular that stands out; that then becomes a friend. Thats Lozette to me. Let me tell you about my friend. She had one of the hardest pregnancies I have seen any of our ladies experience.  Each week was a battle to stay healthy and carry that baby to the best of her ability. Each week she struggled with insanely high blood pressure, fevers, frequent vomiting, dizziness, excessive sweating, indigestion, and insanely swollen feet. Basically, you name it, she had it on the regular. I could not wait until she gave birth to a beautiful bundle of joy and could enjoy the fruits of her labor (literally). But this woman never once complained. She never complained about having to sit all day to receive her medication or walk to the clinic every single week instead of every month to get her BP checked. She carried herself with such grace and poise at all times despite hardly being able to fit in any of her shoes due to swelling.
When I returned from my visit to the states at the end of October I was overjoyed to see her walk in one morning holding a little blanketed bundle. She had a baby boy!! And he was the apple of his mommys eye. She would come and sit next to me while she waited to be called telling me about how beautiful he is and how he was worth all of the suffering. I told her what an amazing job she did and that I never would have had that level of strength to endure with such perseverance to the finish line. I suppose if like Lozette I had already felt what it was like to carry a child for 9 months and then lose it before it ever turned 2 years old I would also take on a supernatural power to create the healthiest baby possible no matter the cost. And thats just what she did. Everything was going wonderfully.

Then one morning we got to clinic and there was an unusual influx of people waiting for us when we arrived at clinic. We were running around in a frenzy trying to get set up and get started so that on a wing and a prayer we could see everyone before dark. The sick kids started to get triaged when a woman came up front and said that one of the former pregnant ladies from our program had their baby and was not doing well. We told her to bring the lady to us. My heart has never sunk harder than it did when I saw them lead my beautiful Lozette up to the front and sit her down. Not my friend! Not my beautiful strong friend who had already endured so much. When she came up to the front it was clear that she was having a hard time taking a single breath. Her feet went back to being overly swollen and she was sweaty just like she was when she was struggling during her pregnancy. Her pleading eyes looked at us and she said ''mw santi pa bon (I dont feel good).'' We took her vitals and confirmed that she was very obviously in respiratory distress.  She did not understand what was happening to her or why. She was so scared. I knelt down on her level and explained to her that we know she does not feel well and that we will do everything in our power to find a hospital to send her to as fast as we could. She grabbed ahold of my hand. Then she would not let go. She began to close her eyes and focus on breathing in and breathing out. Clinic was bustling around me but all I could to was stand there and hold my friends hand and choke back the tears that were threatening to explode in front of almost 200 women and children in our clinic watching us. I held her hand for about 45 minutes. Some of those minutes were spent holding her up as she leaned on me with two hands and rested her head against my arm as if trying to feel some semblance of comfort and safety. Halfway through that time when she felt a little calmer she looked at me and said please I am worried about my baby. I have not been able to breastfeed him for the last 3 days since I started feeling like this and he has not had anything to eat. Please do something for him. I promised her I would be right back by her side to hold her hand as soon as i checked her baby and got some formula mixed up to fill his little tummy. I got a bottle mixed up and gave it to Lozettes sister to give to the baby. Lozette seemed relieved at the sight of that. I resumed my position next to her. Eventually that day we sent her to a hospital where she was put on a ventilator to give her lungs a rest for a few days.

 Just as we suspected she was diagnosed with post partum cardio myopathy.  That is a heart condition that sometimes develops after a woman gives birth and if not treated can be fatal. PPCM presents itself arbitrarily.  That means that nothing Lozette did or did not do was to blame for the formation of this condition. It is literally by chance (well we know that nothing comes as a surprise to the One who holds all past, present, and future). My heart was so broken for this woman who I watched struggle so hard to carry that little life. And just when it seemed that things would finally be okay for her, this happens. This also means for a woman in Haiti with PPCM that she may never be able to get pregnant again without the large possibility of dying before carrying the baby to term. So this was the last new baby she would get to have. He was destined for greatness.
Lozette remained in the hospital for about a week and a half. I was able to visit her once and she seemed to be stable and appreciated seeing a familiar face. She was finally discharged last Thursday.  This past Monday she came to clinic to bring us her prescription and discharge papers. I was so so happy to see her and she seemed to have improved greatly. I sat down next to her and kissed her on the cheek and gave her a hug. I asked her how she was feeling and she said a lot better thanks to God. I asked her if she saw her baby and how he was doing. She looked at me straight in the face and in a soft whisper of a voice she told me that he died this past Saturday.
WHATTTT?!?! WHY GOD, WHY? Why did it have to be her. Only 2 days after she was discharged from the hospital her child died. We had just seen him less than a week before to give more formula and he looked fine. How could this have happened. How could my God let this happen? She proceeded to tell me that he had a lot of diarrhea and vomiting and died a few days after it started. The best we can guess is that maybe the water his formula was being mixed with was not treated and maybe he got cholera.
This happened days ago. And it is still constantly on my mind. Im grieving for her. I do not yet have children of my own but I know what it is like to love a little human so deeply and completely and I cannot imagine what she is going through. Every night she goes to sleep with no one to tuck in or breastfeed in the middle of the night for late night bonding.  All of that work those last 9 months only to have him taken away a month later. One thing I do know is that God has a plan for Lozettes life. And I have to trust that it will be bigger than the void the death of her son created in her heart. But right now it sucks. It sucks so bad. I can't help but hold onto a little burning anger at the injustice of the hand she was dealt. It is my deepest desire that she feels comfort and love and support not from me but from the only One who can make her feel comforted and loved and supported. Until she is able to sense that, I will continue to enjoy seeing her come to clinic to chat and get her meds. Despite the tragedy shes still radiant as ever. I pray that in the face of such suffering I too could carry on with that same measure of grace.

I was hoping that my posts from Behind the Belly would highlight the hope and future that CHM is working to help provide for the pregnant women of Carrefour, but you also need to be aware of the stark reality for our moms despite our best efforts. And sometimes its hard to swallow,  its hard to not let feelings of 'whats the point of even trying if it wont even make a difference' creep into the back of your mind. But the key to remember is that maybr God brought Lozette to CHM so that we could be the encouragement and companionship she needs as she walks through this time in her life. And if that is the case, as I can only speak for myself, I am honored.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Behind the Belly

Hello Family and friends and supporters,
My, it has been a while since I have posted about clinic! {Foster}mom life has overtaken me to say the least. Now that we {Maydelie} have gotten in the groove of school and we have gotten clinic back into a manageable groove, I am able to take time to reflect on the days and their individual happenings. One of the most recent musings I had was about yesterday. As I was reflecting on the {long} clinic day that I had just had (it was already 7pm and dark and I was not yet home) I was realizing how much of a blessing clinic has been for me and its not always about us being a blessing for those we serve.

Due to the sheer girth our pregnant mom program has grown to, it has become the one part of our clinic day that tends to take up a lot of our time some days, but I have grown to realize what a treasure it is. I get to see older veteran moms sit alongside the young first time moms and chat all day. I get to see women who are not sure if they are pregnant and/or didnt realize they were pregnant. I get to see moms proudly parade their little bundles into clinic after they have given birth. There is something so heartwarming about each and every story. Sometimes there is sadness, sometimes there is joy, and if I do not keep my eyes open for it, I will miss the beauty of what the Lord wants me to see. I have been learning to not only see the swollen bellies in front of me, but rather to focus on the story Behind the Belly. So today I give to you your first installment.

For example, yesterday, like any other thursday clinic day, it came time to gather our pregnant ladies and begin seeing them one by one. Once we separated all of them there was one older woman in the back of the room who was alone, didn't look pregnant, and did not have a kid with her. We asked her why she was here. She said she wasnt feeling well. We informed her that we had a clinic for children and pregnant women only and that if she needed an adult consultation she would need to find a different clinic. She just kept saying that she didnt feel well. I tried to glean some more info by asking her what made her feel that she wasnt feeling well. She just kept saying that she was not feeling well. She eventually shared that she had some dizziness and that sometimes her body hurts. I told her that unfortunately due to the amount of children we still had left to see, we would not be able to help her today. She then shared with me that it had been about 3 months since she had seen her last period and she didnt know if maybe she was pregnant. NOW THAT I COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT!! I gladly offered her a nice little cup in which she could go pee in and I got my pregnancy test ready. When she returned with the "specimen" I conducted the test. Not 4 seconds after the dipstick touched the pee, 2 faint lines immediately appeared. Now I got excited for her. We would be able to put her in our pregnant mom program and provide her with crucial tests and vitamins for her new pregnancy.

As I began to fill out a file for her I realized the weight of what just happened. She shared with me that she has no children. But this is not her first pregnancy. No, she had previously given birth 4 times. She shared with me that all of them had died. One of them at the age of 2, died but she never knew there was anything wrong with it. One of them at the age of one month, but again she never knew anything was wrong with it. And two more separate pregnancies, she lost both babies on the day they were born due to unknown circumstances. The last baby that she had given birth to was 3 yers ago. It hit me that the news I had just flippantly shared with her probably welled up a great deal of emotions for this lady. Im sure there was some fear, excitement, joy, nervousness, sadness, and a great deal of caution.

As I contiued to fill out her dossier I began to do some of our routine tests on her (i.e. blood pressure, weight check, etc) I found that at just 3 months pregnant her blood pressure was extremely high. We were able to give her some medication to help manage her blood pressure, and start her on some vitamins. I was able to share with her that there is hope and that she is not alone and we will come alongside her during this pregnancy to help ensure that this new baby, this promise of new life, has the best possible chance at survival. She looked at me with the slightest bit of mist in her eyes and said thank you. And thank you for giving her hope for this new life inside of her. I think she will be one of my very favorite upcoming births!!

This is not even the only one. There are tons of other stories just like it. I get to play a small part in this on.the.regular. I am totally the lucky one. And it is an honor that God has saw fit to use me in this way  for this season of my life. Stay tuned as I try to start sharing more of these stories "behind the belly."

I would love for you to share this story with friends that you know, and encourage them to also come alongside of me as a ministry partner. If you or someone you know would like to support myself and the small part I play in the scheme of Children's Health Ministries you can make a one time or recurring monthly donation at: https://www.egsnetwork.com/gift2/?giftid=F634A2F25D05435 OR you can send a check addressed to Children's Health Ministries to 8049 White Sands Blvd, Navare, Fl 32566 with LYDIA DEPUTY in the memo line.

Friday, July 10, 2015

By His Wounds, Not Hers

(this post was written over a week ago but never got a chance to be published. stay tuned to the end ot see an update)
         Ever since I started realizing that Haiti wasn’t all about the cute little kids in the orphanages, I started to see that behind every cute little kid lies a whole world I know nothing about. I began to actually see these kids and their families and realize that there has got to be another way outside of institutions. Working with Children’s Health Ministries, I have seen the love and care that these parents have for their children. The drive to fight for them, and fight to keep them alive even when all they have to give them is the love in their hearts and a holey tin roof over their heads.

         Unfortunately, at the same time while being surrounded by so many caring and concerned parents who want nothing but health and life for their children, you see that one lonely disheveled girl sitting in the corner singing softly to herself. The little girl in the corner with the nappy unkempt hair, sweaty face peppered with a skin infection is not a product of a loving and caring parent. This is not her first rodeo with CHM. She was malnourished once before and even had to get inpatient treatment. Now her mom has had another baby, another cuter, not sick little baby boy. This only adds to the misery of her life. Each week, she is brought by a neighbor to clinic where she sits there all day blending in with the background of the hustle and bustle of clinic. Eventually, her mother shows up with the baby because her son is being tracked through the baby program. Usually about halfway through the clinic day, she can be found in the front sleeping while standing up with her little body bent in half resting her head on the seat of a wooden bench.

          The mom is there all day but has zero interaction with her daughter. No love, no hugs, no water, no food. It is a known fact among the other parents that the mom beats her. And often for no reason at all. When the mom is asked why she beats her 3 year old, she tells us that it is because she goes to the bathroom in her bed. We try to tell her that beating her child is not the correct response to that incident. The mom refuses to take responsibility for her actions. She does not listen to us when we tell her that her daughter goes to the bathroom in her bed because she has diarrhea due to a lack of treated drinking water; although free Clorox is provided to her for doing so.  We wrack our brains with how to help her. This mom has already told us that she doesn’t want her anymore and wants to put her in an orphanage. Then she tried to offer her to one of us. We know the best place for a child with living parents is at home with them, but how do you hold fast to that when every day of this child’s life is miserable? How do you address the rampant skin infections on her face and body when you know after you treat them they will come right back over and over again because nothing in her life will have changed?

          So each day, the rest of the moms and their children sit at clinic waiting to be seen, overlooking the little dirty girl that sits in the outskirts of the crowd. Each week she comes back, looking a little bit worse, but it’s not like they notice her. One time when her mom came to clinic, she left with her baby and her little girl, but her daughter was barefoot. She never came with shoes, but the sad thing is, her 7 month old brother that doesn’t walk had nice shoes on.

         There was this one time when I actually saw misery step aside and let joy shine through. When she looks at her little brother she tries to contain it but she can’t help but let a smile slip into the corners of her lips. She sometimes holds onto one of his feet from a distance as if to say, “I’m here. You have nothing to worry about.”

          Maydelie’s situation challenges everything I think about the way the family unit should stay together here. At what point of realizing that the child will only know the feeling of misery most of her life do you begin to think of an alternative? What alternatives are even out there? She is not a poor little Haitian girl in need of saving. She {and her mother} are in need of being seen and shown the love of the Savior. She is in need of people to notice her and what she is going through. She is in need of someone to let her know that this is not the way that life should be. Sometimes her eyes lock on mine and I try to think about what is going through her head, but those beautiful brown beauties look so dead and lifeless. This is not the way life should be people. I don’t know what the solution is yet, but I do know that I can share a little glimpse into Maydelie’s life so that you all can see her too. And maybe one day the right person will see her and offer a solution for her and her family to strengthen and heal them as a unit.

Yesterday, the neighbor brought Maydelie to clinic. Her feet have become swollen with edema because she is again malnourished. The neighbor also showed us that the mom had beaten her with a stick on Monday (mind you it is now Thursday) and the welts were still raised and swollen. Maydelie walked with a limp because she was in pain. It has begun to be very clear that we can talk to this mom until we are blue in the face but it will not change how she treats her daughter. We have realized that if she stays in her current home situation, the mom may actually kill her daughter. Something had to change. We discussed options of what we could do. In the I agreed to take her to live with me temporarily while we seek help from a social worker and figure out next steps. It was evident that Satan was alive and well in our clinic yesterday. Maydelie's mom ended up showing up to clinic with a bunch of relatives and friends. The mom showed up toting a machete claiming she was going to chop her childs head off. This confirmed for us that we needed to move swiftly and get her in a safer situation. Talks were had, zone officials were called, loud discussions commenced, and then at the end I was left with this sleeping lump in my arms. Off we went to spend our first night together and the beginning of our journey to what I hope will be healing and safety for Maydelie. So friends, please pray for us. Pray for Maydelie. Pray that I can do my best at all times to show her the love of Christ. Pray that even though she does not speak to me yet, or show any emotion other than pain, that I will be able to meet her needs. I do not know what the future holds for Maydelie. I do not know what the future holds for her life and the life of her family, but I know who holds all the futures. My biggest hope and prayer is that I can show her that by His wounds we are healed, not hers. 

For as long as she is in my care, 
I will sing over her:
You have a Father, 
He calls you His own,
He'll never leave you,
And hears you when you call.
He knows your name,
He knows your every thought,
He sees each tear that falls,
      and hears you when you call.                                                         

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important"

His name is David. Well, actually thats not really his name. The truth is, no one knows what his name is because he did not arrive with one. This little boy was abandoned in a hospital with no name or birth certificate. So no one knows how old he is or what name he is used to being called. But when he arrived at the orphanage, they all voted on the name David. I caught my first glimpse of this jello-like child the day after we got there when the madame carried him into church. After that, I did not see him the rest of the day. The day after Christmas, UNICEF showed up to check on David. Jasmine told me to go get David so that the UNICEF workers could see him. This was my first interaction with the little jello giggler. I had never held this kid before so I had no idea what to expect when the madame handed him to me. This long gangly thing could not even hold his own head up and he constantly slobbered and chewed on his hands and had an abnormally small head. So I carried him to the common area and sat him on my lap; well, actually lay him on my lap because he could not hold himself up the least bit. He was so floppy and would have random jerky, seemingly-uncontrollable movements that made him interesting to try to interact with. We werent really sure what was wrong with him, but my mom looked at him and tried to make a basic analysis as to the things he was capable of and she began to think that he wasnt as severely handicapped as everyone thought.
I began working with him. I did things with him like holding him and moving his arms back and forth just to illicit the smallest bit of muscular resistance from him. Before I knew it, David had been in my arms for over four hours. I dont know what drew me to him. Its not like he was buckets of fun to play with because frankly, he was quite boring because he didnt do anything. He didnt smile, he didnt respond when you said his name, he did not make eye contact very well, and he just layed there as limp as a ragdoll. After those initial four hours i felt drawn to be with him. It was time for dinner and I was more than willing to feed him. I went into the dining area to find him and ask his madame for his food. He was not in the dining area, but all of the children from his room were already there. I went looking for him. The madame's had left him in his room all by himself with the door closed while all of the other kids got to eat in the dining area. When I asked the madame for his food she replied, "no li manje piti", meaning, "no he only eats a little." I thought that was so strange because I was offering to feed the kid. I didn't care how much or how little he ate. But for the madame to consider him not worth letting me feed him because he ate such an insignificant amount was so saddening. The next day the children were having a carnival and a makeshift snowball fight and I was on picture patrol which required both hands being free. This would mean that David would have to sit slumped over in that awful carseat in the toddler room and just watch all of the kids play around him. So instead, we rigged up an infant carrier so that I could carry him on the front of me and he could see all that was going on around him while still keeping my hands free. Needless to say, he loved it. He was kicking his feet with delight! We walked around like that until it was lunchtime. Since he was already strapped to my body, I was not about to put him in that room all by himself. So I just got my food and decided that I would try to feed him my food. Since he didn't eat much I figured there would be plenty for me and him. I was wrong. For the next hour and a half, I fed him. As long as he opened his mouth for another bite, I gave it to him. He never once got upset or refused the food. Let me tell you, before I knew it, this kid ate every bit of my lunch except for about 6 bites of rice. This was just another confirmation that there was a very special person inside of this little boy that was dying to come out!

 The next day was beach day! A day where everyone gets the opportunity of taking one child to the beach with them for an afternoon of fun in the sun. In the summer I asked to take the biggest problem child of them all, and Jasmine let me take her because she knew I was not going to put up with any of Roselaine's shenanigans. So this time, I timidly asked if I could bring David along with me. Usually the handicapped kids do not get to go to the beach because of the amount of work that goes into taking them. Not to mention, you have to worry about diapers.  But Jasmine said that I could because she knew I would have him with me the entire time and it would be so good for him. She was right! He loved the water. He and I were out in the water and he was just kicking his feet and waving his hands. I guess there is something to be said about the liberating feeling of being in water with nothing on but a diaper! After a while, he got a little fussy. We found out a minute later that it was because he had really bad belly pain from the gas that came from his intestines processing more food than he had eaten in a very long time. As disgusting as it smelled not to mention the amount of mess it produced, the diarrhea he had was another sign of the life that was waiting to come out! After quite the ordeal of changing his diaper on a sandy beach using the one towel that we had brought to share between three of us, his belly was still feeling yucky. Luckily, it was time to head back to the orphanage. On the walk back to the cars, he fell asleep in my arms. I guess he was just so tired out from his body working so hard the last few days. We made it back to the orphanage and got him into another clean diaper (yes diarrhea number 3 for the day happened 4 minutes after the 2nd one) and some clean clothes. I decided to put a play mat on the floor and see what his tummy time capabilities were. He was soooo not happy with me. He began to cry and thrash as soon as I put him down. But after some distant consoling, he calmed down and began playing with some toys in front of him. We found out that he was able to push his upper body up with his hands when on his belly, and then he surprised the pants off of us by rolling over both directions!! The 180 degree transformation we were witnessing was a miracle and everyone else was beginning to notice also! He even found it a nice place to take a quiet nap. Since there is no way anyone can sleep in that toddler room with all of the crazy kids in there! 

We had good parts of our day and bad parts of our day. Nighttime was a little hard for him. Some nights we would hold him while he wailed and cried because of the belly pain he was having. If he only knew how good it was for him because it meant that his body was starting to work properly again. He continued to eat full size meals every day and drink plenty of water. We discovered that he was even capable of holding his own cup! A very kind family that was visiting the orphanage (who had a baby daughter) left us her sippy cups with handles for David to have. That simple generous act meant the world to me, and David! It took him all of 10 minutes to figure out how to hold the cup by the handles and drink all by himself. There seemed to be no limit to the things that he was able to do. Two nights before we left, he laughed for the first time. Up until that point, we had seen lots of smiling and cooing,  but that night we got a good 5 minute long belly laughing session. It was quite the sight! There are no words to describe the transformation we saw in those 4 short days. Nor are there words to describe the unexpected bond that he had with our family.
There was one day, that I felt that God had used to say something to me. The day was 2 days after christmas. It was right after we had the carnival and snowball fight for the kids. Jasmine got a call from Johnson, the head of Haitian police who helps with a lot of the adoption proceedings. She came running out of the classroom screaming, "we got it, we got the license." This means that all of the adoptions are able to be completed now. All of the nannies and the older kids knew what this meant. There was instant screaming and clapping, and there was also some crying and dancing. When I heard the news, I immediately started crying tears of joy because I knew that not only meant that Monelson would get to come home soon, but it meant that the parents who have been waiting for over 8 months would finally be able to bring their kids home. I guess they were more tears of hope. And then there was David, who was nestled in my lap, happy as a clam to be in the middle of all of the hulabaloo. I looked down at him and gave him a kiss, then I looked up. My eyes met with my dad's who had tears just streaming out of them. He was looking at David. Just the compassion in his eyes, I felt like he was seeing him just how Jesus sees him. Seeing him as a child who is dying to come out and show the world how special he is, and a child who's situation is being used to bring God glory. After that moment, I had a feeling that God has some great things planned right around the bend. 

When I think back to what those six days with David meant for him, myself, and my family, I am overwhelmed. For David, he was awakened. Through the power of Christ, he was given a second chance at   a life no one pictured to be in his future. It was as if he woke up before the eyes of the watching world. For myself, I witnessed the power of letting Christ work through you. I stand amazed when I think that David was at OLTCH since October, when volunteers were coming and going during that whole time and Jesus chose this broken vessel to be the one to notice the life still inside of this boy. That He chose my family and I to be the ones that got to witness his awakening every step of the way, and each day marvel at the awesome power of our God because of what He was doing through David. Because of this, I can not help but think that this is God's way of showing our family that we may not be done adding to our family. When looking back, the last time our family bonded so quickly and unexpectedly with a child was with Joey. We set out to temporarily meet a need, and in return we were the ones that were blessed by an unexpected bond that can only come from Christ. It could not have all been for nothing. As Meredith Andrew's wrote in her song "what it means to love" upon her return from haiti, she said "So how can I go back to life as usual/ how do I return to who I once was/ I just want to take your story to the world/ because you have shown me what it means to love." I have felt a lot of love for a lot of children before, but it seems as  though this bond is different. I do not think that I can say that I have ever met a child that I felt so deeply connected to that I have such strong desire to give him the world. A child that we simply could not ignore now that we knew he existed.
Around thanksgiving time, Jasmine had done an activity with the older kids of OLTCH where they learned about their rights as children. They made an 8 foot tall tree and each of them made a leaf representing their rights such as food, water, shelter, safety, and love. It is so important that they grow up knowing that they will be taken care of and have their needs met. Then you have someone like David. A child who cannot understand or fight for his rights as a child on this earth. Much less a child of the King! He needs a family, to show that little boy what it means to be loved. He deserves to have a family to show him what it means to have a right to food, not just some food, but someone to have the patience to take the time to feed him until his belly is satisfied. He deserves a family who recognizes that he has not drank enough water to stay hydrated and to make sure that he has the means, something as trivial as making sure he has handles on his sippy cup, to be able to do so. He deserves a family who will take the time to hold him, rather than let him take a sideline seat in an upright car seat only to watch life happen around him. A mom and a dad who will make sure to kiss him goodnight, tell them they love him, and hold him until he falls asleep in their arms just to make sure he does not have to spend another night falling asleep sitting up, and being there to feed him breakfast in the morning. But the greatest of these is love. It is one thing to meet all of these needs, but if they are not done out of love for David and out of a love for Christ, what do they really do for him in the end?
I know this has been quite the long post. I hope you did not give up halfway through. I also hope you will stick around and see what God has in store for David in the near future. And if you think of it, pray that God would direct the path of a very special family to commit to being the ones who will be the ones to tell him  "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Because he is all of these things and more.