Monday, April 16, 2012

To Love Like Her

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One day last November a baby girl named Wilna was born in a tiny house outside of a the city of Gressier. By this country's standards she was flawed, a deformed ear and other physical abnormalities made her a burden.

6 weeks ago that tiny little girl came through our gates and was born into our hearts. People stopped to stare, not at her imperfections but at her breathtaking beauty. Eyes that sparkled with life, despite the sickness and malnutrition that plagued her tiny body. Lips, reluctant, but ready to curl into a precious smile. 

6 weeks ago baby Wilna stepped out of a life of neglect and pain, she stepped into the gates of a place called OLTCH and she leapt into the soul of a brand new Mama. Wilna of the past became Ella Grace, a new name for a new life.

For the past 6 weeks Ella Grace has blossomed. She was overwhelmed by ups and downs but in the constant arms and love of Lauren. She smiled, she laughed, she played, she cried, all in the love of a mother who has inspired me more than I could ever express.

While Ella Grace grew she worked her way into all of our love. She was impossible not to fall for.

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This morning, during church I looked into the row behind me where Lauren and Ella Grace sat, immediately my heart sank, there was something very wrong with baby Ella. I grabbed her into my arms and ran into the dining room and lied her on the table, her eyes were rolled back in her head, her hands and feet freezing while the rest of her body burned with fever, the inside of her mouth was pure white. I checked franticly for a pulse… faint. Breathing barely noticeable. While trying not to disturb the service I told Jasmine that we needed a car right away. Within seconds Samaritan’s Purse staff members who were visiting has ushered us into their truck and we raced towards Sans Frontiers.

Arriving in the emergency department was sobering. So much pain. While we sat and cried over this baby that we loved so much every single person around us struggled with the same emotion. Every single person there loved and worried over someone else. Some of them would leave together, healed. Some would leave with empty arms… little did I know that we would soon be among them.

Despite receiving all of the [limited] care that this hospital could offer, sweet Ella Grace passed away at around 2pm.

Her passing was devastating.

Not to diminish the joy of knowing that she is in paradise today, we are heartbroken that means a goodbye for us. Ella Grace was loved as much as human hearts are capable of, she was cherished and held and comforted though her pain and tears.

Because God had a plan for the life of a tiny little Haitian girl and because He chose to bless us through that life, we are all better people. Because God gave us Ella Grace, He used His servant Lauren to teach me lessons about being a mother that I will always remember and always strive for. God taught me that pure love does exist, though the love that I saw Lauren share.

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My sweet sister, I am so proud of you! I love you for loving her and showing us all how to love more fiercely. My heart breaks with you and as we spend the next days in tears, prayer and remembering together I hope you know how much I admire your unwavering faith and your dedication to the precious daughter of your heart!

Monday, April 2, 2012

If I Had Only Known

“I didn’t know that I had just received the first injection of a potent and disarmingly seductive drug. I would become dependent on it, an addict to Haiti for the rest of my life.”

-Susan Scott Krabacher – Angels Of A Lower Flight

4 years ago today, I stepped off of an airplane and into the shoes of a person that I never could have imagined being.

4 years ago today, I caught my first whiff of a smell that I can only describe as “Haiti.” 

4 years ago today, the photos that had captured my heart came to life.

4 year ago today, I saw a skeleton of a child drinking from a green, fetid puddle of water on the side of the road in a city called Port Au Prince.

4 years ago today, I saw a man with wild hair and wild eyes, sitting naked and alone in the middle of a busy street.

4 years ago today, I watched the sun set behind a backdrop of mountains and palm trees, awe of the beauty that is this place engulfed me.

4 years ago I entered into a struggle of seeing beauty, despite ugly pain.

4 years ago today, God capture my heart, shattered it into a million pieces and scattered them across this foreign land.

In 4 years everything I thought I knew about life, love, wealth and God has changed. I have learned what heartbreaking sorrow, immeasurable joy and reckless faith look like. I have been on top of the mountain and in the pits of hell on earth. I have had much and I have wanted much. I have laughed until I cried and cried until I had nothing left to cling to but Him. I have met my truest and dearest friends and I have become a Mother.

There is nothing about me that hasn’t changed since that April day in 2008. I wish I could say that I embraced the journey every step of the way but that just isn’t true. Many times I have balked, fought and argued against my calling. Many times I have run away from the things that are just too hard. Many times I have begged God to give this purpose to someone else. But, after every sleepless night the sun has risen again and His promise remains. For every superficial relationship that has faded away with time and distance, His voice has whispered close. For every moment of panic over resources that just weren’t there, a miraculous provision has been sure to follow.

In 4 years God hasn’t used me to “save” Haiti. I haven’t done great and wonderful things for this county, full of so much need. I have done very few even minor things to make this a better place. On paper you wouldn’t see my 4 years amount to much, not for lack of trying but rather because that’s just not why I am here. God’s purpose for capturing my life really has very little to do with what He needs to do through me and a whole lot to do with what He needs to do in me.

If you had told me 4 years ago that I would hold babies during their first moments on earth, and their last… If you had told me that 4 years from then, I would crave this place with everything in me, while always knowing that I am a visitor in this land… If I had known that just 21 months later I would face the hardest and most gut wrenching disaster I could imagine…If you had told me that I would have a brother, a son and a daughter because of this place… If you had told me that I would learn to love God’s plans even when they were the exact opposite of mine… If I had known what lie ahead…. I might have just turned and run away. If I had known, I can imagine I would have been terrified.

Oh, but how much better He knows this weak and human heart. God brought me here as a naive, stupid child because He knew how very easily I could have missed out on all the blessings that He had in store. Blessings in the moment that a first cry is uttered of tiny lungs. The blessing of seeing what lies ahead, in the visions so evident as life prepares to end. I could have missed the joy that a 5 year old little boy has brought into our family and the wonder of a tiny little girl who holds my heart. I could have missed the blessing of being so heartbroken that I could literally feel myself being swept lovingly into my Abba Daddy’s arms. If I had only known I could have missed it all.

There are still days where I stand back in awe over what God has chosen for me, I pray there always will be. This afternoon, as I look around at this tiny room that I now call home and the baby that I call mine, as I look around at the faces of all these other little ones that I have a hand in raising for this season, as I sweat and complain and wish for a break, as I see myself go back and forth, moment by moment between my selfish desires and embracing all He has commanded of me, I realize I am still, just as I was 4 years ago. Somewhere between who I was and who He’s making me.