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