When they arrived in our yard over a year ago, I didn’t know the situation but judging by the grim look in the older man’s eyes and the tears threatening to spill over in his daughter’s, I braced myself. The young women lifted her scarf and unveiled her 16 day-old baby. I saw beauty and miraculous life. She showed me her little daughter’s feet and hands and the birth deformities.
The next visit came two days later, the mother (18 years), baby and grandmother came. The grandmother expressed the common feeling that a child with birth defects was only a heavy burden to the family. She choked with grief and bitterness, “And what if the child grows? Will she go to school? How long will her Mom be able to carry her?”
A humorous aside, a bit of background at my emotional state during this conversation: it was happening when Miss T was around 5months old and Tiger was just over a year. My early mama instincts were heightened because of the hormones and small bodies dependent on me. It was in the same stage where I wanted to mother everything, from the overloaded donkey on the side of the road, to the small, scraggly, mucus-eyed stray kitten. During this season, Jon knocked down what he thought was a bat nest outside of our attic window. When we realized it was actually a swallow’s nest, I lost sleep over the poor homeless creatures. With this Mama/Baby combo, I was devastated by the lack of hope present.
The mother, Frehiwot, and I locked eyes and her desperation, ready-to-do-anything love for her child cried out. I had the chance to speak hope and God’s goodness over the child with amniotic band syndrome.
Now the silver lining! (It brings me so much joy to write this as often all I have to share are the heart-wrenching stories). In Addis Ababa, I had a friend who worked at the amazing CURE Hospital and after a brief e-mail consult, the baby had an appointment. CURE does pediatric surgeries at no cost to needy families. Lines are long for appointments but the infant’s condition needed immediate attention. After the first surgery, we visited the family and there was a grateful and even slightly optimistic quality in the house. A series of surgeries and follow-up appointments later, Frehiwot and I would speak on the phone, but we only saw each other briefly and never with little baby girl.
While in Addis, Ato Fekadu, who is an SIM employee and an amazing man of God, called me and asked if I could come to his office. Ato Fekadu manages our medical patients in AA, we send him money for their transport, hotel, medicines, food, etc and he shares the love of Jesus with the family while taking care of practical needs.
I walked in and saw Frehiwot, with her beautiful toddler on her lap. Kalkidan was smiling and snuggling and proudly wiggled her limbs full of scars and recovery. Frehiwot and I wept and laughed and hugged and marveled together. For a period of minutes, as the full office looked on, all I could choke out through tears was, “God be praised.”
Medical ministry has brought so much pain and suffering to our door. Sometimes, the death and illness feels so heavy, we stagger and want to give up. Now there is this giggly little one, delightedly snuggling the beanie baby bear, (which speaks to my recently deceased Grandma’s legacy, she sent our kids so many beanie babies, we have been able to spread her love to kids in need of a sweet diversion during tough medical stuff).
Through God’s faithfulness and because of your generous financial partnership, we have been able to help families who have no other means, with a focus on children or parents who would leave behind orphans. Now, we are so thankful to say that Awi Medical Outreach has it’s own project number and if you desire to help with this, you can donate directly through SIM USA, project number #092023 or follow this link.
God has done great things!