This Little Light of Mine

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An unexpected blessing (Part 1)

So, I finally am going to try to tell the story of this trip's surprise blessing.  On Wednesday, Anne and I went to the clinic to work as we had the previous Monday.  It was an interesting point in the trip as we did not have scheduled plans for the following day and were feeling a sense of anticipation for God's plans for the remaining time of our trip.  The day at the clinic began uneventfully.  Variety of patients with a wide range of needs.  My first patient was quite a treat.  She presented to the clinic for followup on her blood pressure and stroke weakness which she has suffered with for over 3 years.  When we were introduced, it struck me.  This is the elderest Haitian I have met here.  She was a proud 80 years old with her younger sister in her 60's.  What an absolute honor to have these incredible women.
Wow I look like I was already melting and it was only 8:30am.
And so we continued on seeing patients.  Then, it happened.  A young woman brought in a small infant with the complaints of decreased feeding and listlessness.  My medical training assessed the small baby in an instant realizing that she clearly had Down's Syndrome and was malnurished. 

The woman claiming to be her mother gave details of an uneventful birth but that they had not seen a doctor since delivery.  As I examined her, this little angel smiled up at me and my heart literally skipped a beat.  Her exam was not as bright.  This small one had a very audible heart murmur which with her Down's I feared most definitely indicated a cardiac defect of some sort.  She was also clearly malnurished with skin hanging off her little bones. 
First priority was clear, proceed with whatever this sweet angel needed to get her the best medical care I could.  About this time Anne and her translator came over to also see this precious one.  The "mother" began speaking to Yamiley (the other Haitian translator) in Kreyol.  Yamiley turns to me and asks, "do you know the whole story?"  Well...uh...thought I did but clearly I didn't.  This woman went on to tell a story of how she was a friend of the mother and had been helping her since before the earthquake.  The real mother went out for food and never returned. 

Okay. Sounded reasonable and I pressed forward.  I scooped the baby up and went down to discuss plans with Yanick (clinic director).  As I sat down in Yanick's office with my heart in my hands, she turns to us and goes "Melissa!  That's baby Melissa!" 

Huh?  Who? What???

Well then the story evolves further to learn that this baby was actually not a 3month old but a child who had been brought to the clinic on several occasions and was actually around 6 months old.  She had been sent for ECHO but the mother never took her for the testing even after she was provided with the finances for the testing.  The mother apparently had left her with this women that morning in the waiting area of the clinic. 
This is about the time I realized that I had spontaneously developed a primal protective emotion over this child.  Without any of my usual overplanned forethought I plunged into working with Yanick on what we would do with this child.  This started with a call to Bobby at the CHOH orphanage and he recommended proceeding with a police report.  While this was going on, I sent one of the translators out with some cash to forage for some formula so we could feed her.  All I knew for sure was this baby had become a part of me in those few hours and she was going to come back to the guesthouse for the night while plans and arrangements could be made. 

Let me digress at this point in the story to explain that I have loved every child that I have been blessed to meet in my 2 visits to this country.  They fill my thoughts daily and along with many, many others we have worked tirelessly to try to provide for a brighter future in God's love for many of them.  There has not been one child though that ever overwhelmed me to such a primal and fundamental level as Melissa.  I guess that it is a good thing so that I haven't wanted to adopt them all but this really caught me flat footed and unprepared emotionally.  Every time anyone wanted to hold her I felt like a Mama Bear and had to consciously restrain from growling "NO". 

Josua returned with some powdered formula and we mixed a bottle with some water from the cooler.  She sucked it down like a pro!  About now, Michelle had arrived to pick us up with Kristina and the kids as well.  Everyone wanted to hold Melissa.  Not sure at that point for sure who she was, there was lots of talk of what to call her.  My emotional volcano boiled up more and more on the ride back to the house.  Totally and completely I was sucker punched.  Why am I feeling so protective?  Where did this smothering wave of devotion to her come from?  Why now?  I was not prepared for this situation and left the group gathered in the front room of the guesthouse and tried to gather myself outside.

My prayers began in the way mine often do when I don't even know where to begin.  Help me Lord!  I do not understand.  I am lost and need you so!  After what seemed like forever, my emotions turned the prayers to "I can't do this Lord!"  Why did you make this connection with THIS child? Why now? ....  And then the thunderstorm clouds let loose with a cool rain....

Let me say right now that I am a weak sinner and am openly admitting that: yes, I questioned God's will.  It was killing me to say these things but I knew God already knew my struggle and pain.  I took it to him and prayed for him to intercede.  After crying uncontrollably in the cool rain, I returned to the house thinking I had "pulled it together."  Nope!

So I went upstairs and struggled fruitlessly to stuff it down.  Anne realizing something was wrong approached me in our room and I continued to try to put these emotions back in a box but failed miserably.  By now, I was so tired and raw I didn't think I could even look at Melissa any more.  Anne very quietly and gently went and brought Melissa upstairs to our room.  I didn't want to look into that sweet face and feel this emotion any deeper.  But, I turned to look at her on the bed and the pain melted away with her grin as if it was an ice cube in the beam of a thousand suns.  I was hers, and in some way which God will determine she is mine.

Stay tuned for the rest of my life changing 48 hours with God's special little blessing....


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your stories. I miss Haiti so much! I will go back someday, I know, its just so hard to read of their need and deal with life at home. I'll pray for you and Melissa. I'd love to be able to meet with you some day and share stories.

  2. Wow...I think I have to go reapply my makeup now. God is amazing, and there is definitely a reason he brought her into your life. I hope I get to meet her in November. God Bless you Jenny.

  3. Ok Jenny, I am sitting here tearing up while reading your account of that special day. That evening was full of emotions and questions but what was crystal clear was that you and Melissa were forming very strong heartstrings.

    You both are better for having met each other and I am anxious to see where God leads you in regards to this sweet little girl.