In the last week, I have continued to do fun activities that many missionaries do not get to enjoy, and I also got a glimpse of what is to come after this summer vacation. One of the young men we have been working with for the past eight years became very ill after camp this year. His name is Bernardo, and he used to be one of those extremely challenging kids you can't help but love. Anyone who has worked with children knows exactly what I mean. He would never sit still or do what he was supposed to. He barely had any language skills and would express his frustrations through physical violence. He even broke a team member's toe because he was struggling so hard to get back into the pool after swimming time was over! But for some reason, everyone seemed to feel an unexplainable, intense love for this child.
As the years went by, we watched him grow into a leader among his peers. At camp, he would help us keep the younger children in line and set a wonderful example for them to follow. We were told that throughout the year at school, he would preach to his classmates about the Lord and how accepting Christ changed his life. This young man still has a lot to learn, but don't we all?
We were all told at camp that he was quite sick, but I did not hear anything about his health for a couple of weeks. We then found out that he had been admitted to the hospital with extreme abdominal pain. We were told that he had not really been able to eat much for about a week due to the pain and the lack of food in his home. He was on an IV in the hospital, but had not gotten any medicine because his mother could not afford it. When we went to visit him, he was so thin, pale, and weak. He told me all about the progression of his sickness and we had a great conversation about trusting in God, even when things get tough. It turns out, he has two different types of parasites, two different types of amoebas, and possibly appendicitis.
At this point, I realized that part of my job here is to be the "woman on the ground." I am in a position where I get to actually see the needs that we have been hearing about for years, and I can report back to the team at home and all of you asking for prayers and sometimes financial support. Due to a generous donation, medicine was purchased for Bernardo, and food was bought for him and his family so that his body can heal. When we visited him at his home after he was discharged from the hospital, we noticed that there was no evidence of any food whatsoever in that house. The conditions of the home were heartbreaking.
After leaving Bernardo's home, Paulina and I went to a hardware store so we could give other donated money to the man in charge of construction on a new house for another young deaf man and his family. Their living conditions have been even worse than those of Bernardo's family, and because of generous donations, a new home is being built for them. It is not finished yet, but the progress looks very promising.
Hearing about all of this need for so many years has been heartbreaking enough, but seeing it with my own eyes is a whole other story. The family I am staying with told me that it is just one emergency after another with these children and their families, and that Bernardo's home situation is not even the worst of the children currently attending the school. Some of the children dig through trash looking for their next meal. Many of them have been violated and hurt in ways that it makes me sick to my stomach to think about. This has all been weighing so heavily on my heart. My heart breaks for these children and the terrible situations some of them are in. My heart breaks for those who have been intimately involved in the lives of these children and have witnessed these hardships first hand over and over. My heart breaks because there is so little I can do about it. Only through God, our good Father and provider, can the lives of these families be improved. Only through prayer and helping these people set up situations in which they can sustain their own families can they truly be helped. But we do what we can. Bit by bit. Day by day. I am going to ask you all a favor, and I know not everyone will do it. But I ask you all to spend some time in prayer for the deaf community and their families all over this country. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have against all of the hardship and darkness in this world. As you are sitting there reading this blog, you most likely have a little bit of free time right now. Take a few minutes and lift these people up to the Lord. Every time you think of it, every time you read one of my posts, I beg you to say a prayer, even if it is just a quick, "Lord, help them." There is so much work to be done, and this is one thing YOU can do to help. Thank you for your time, thank you for your prayers, and God bless you all.