Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day!
Hola and Happy Mother’s Day!
Yesterday afternoon we went with our adoption agency facilitator, Melissa, to visit a local children’s hospital. It is actually a place of residence for the children that we saw, most of whom had cerebral palsy. There were some other American volunteers visiting at the time, so some of the children were already out of their beds and in wheelchairs. We headed inside to meet some of the other kids. The smell of urine hit us in the face as we entered the dimly lit room lined with cribs covered with mosquito netting. Children were lying silently, staring at nothing. The hopelessness and loneliness were palpable. I spotted a baby girl lying silent and unmoving and headed toward her crib. On the way, I overheard Melissa and another Christian man discussing a little boy named, Alex, who was nine years old. They said he needed a feeding tube and was going downhill fast. I had no real intentions of heading toward Alex’s bed, but I felt compelled. When the man picked him up, I could not believe Alex was 9 years old. He was the size of a three year old and incredibly thin. One thing was immediately noticeable about Alex. He had an AMAZING smile. It lit up the room. Each time he was kissed or stroked, he rewarded us with a big smile. He could not speak, but his smile said a thousand words. The man put him back in his bed, put his crib rail up and went to check on the next child. Something in my heart turned over. I do not cry easily, but tears sprang to my eyes and I knew that God wanted me to pick up Alex. I put his crib rail down and pulled back the netting and said, “Hola, Alex.’ Ohhh..he is so precious. He looked at me and gave me a big smile that lit up his eyes. I picked him up—I don’t think he weighed more than 25 pounds. He was soaking wet. A feeling of intense anger swept over me as I realized that not only are these precious ones languishing in their beds, but they are lying there in urine soaked clothing. Could any existence be more miserable? I sought out Melissa, who took me to one of the staff and asked them in Spanish to change Alex so that he would be more comfortable. After that, I was able to take him out into the courtyard. When he realized he was going outside for some fresh air, his whole body squirmed with excitement! He was so happy to be going outside. This might sound odd, but when I looked into his face and saw his smile and joyful eyes, I kept thinking of the song, “The Face of Christ” by Chris Rice.
See you had no choice which day you would be born
Or the color of your skin, or what planet you'd be on
Would your mind be strong, would your eyes be blue or brown
Whether daddy would be rich, or if momma stuck around...at all
So if you find yourself in a better place
Can't look down on the frown on the other guy's face
You gotta stoop down low, look him square in the eye
And risk a funny feeling, cause you might be dealing...
With the Face of Christ
Looking into Alex’s eyes, I truly felt like I was looking into the face of Christ. Each time I did anything for Alex, he would look at me with eyes full of appreciation and flash me a big smile. I had a bottle and was trying to feed him, but most of what went into his mouth, came back up or dribbled out of the side of his mouth. He tried so hard to swallow—but he just could not make the liquid go down, even when I just gave him a few drops at a time. I hope and pray he gets a feeding tube soon. The joy went out of his face as I placed him back in his bed. He looked so sad and fragile. It is heartbreaking that he doesn’t have a Mama or a Daddy to rock him and let him know that he is a precious little boy.
There were so many other children—all needing to be held and loved. They lie there day after day, staring at their mosquito netting and waiting for a volunteer to come and hold them. I came away wondering if there is something more that can be done for them? Melissa tells me that any donations would not stay at the hospital, but would be sold by the nurses. It is a helpless feeling to see the misery—to know that God calls us to care for ‘the least of these’ and then to walk away. Is it enough to hold them for a few minutes, pass out some stickers, blow bubbles and then leave? It sure doesn’t seem like it. Their eyes begged to be remembered, to not forget their suffering.
I had some sticker sheets left over from the gift bags we made (that we will take to the orphanage tomorrow). I gave one sheet of stickers to one of the boys and it was so cute to see how excited he was! Melissa blew some bubbles for him and he was swatting at them with his sticker sheet. He was so full of personality. Unfortunately, I do not remember his name. Before long, some of the other children who were able to operate their own wheelchairs, came rushing over to get some stickers. It was so cute.
Here is Roberto…he has a few stickers on his shirt…and he liked hanging around Melissa. One other little guy came over for some stickers but when I tried to give them to him, he could not grasp the sheet. I was able to tuck them into his lap, though, so he got his stickers.