Ali and Natasha

 

These are my thoughts... raw thoughts from my time with Natasha...

Natasha. Beautiful, 1.5 year old with cerebral palsy. When I met her at Happy Life she was not even able to hold her head up. So sick, I thought she might stop breathing in my arms. Never smiled. Silent. Held her till my arms felt as if they were going to fall off. Prayed and sang over her. And then had a hard time leaving her. She was definitely struggling. Second time I saw her, she smiled when I leaned over her crib. We spent the day playing, swinging, and practicing how to sit up. She cried when I left but it was easier knowing I was coming back. By the third day she was responsive to my voice from the minute I walked in her room. At first it seemed as if it would be a repeat of the day before, but by that afternoon I was beginning to see progress. She was sitting up by herself for 10 minutes at a time. She was even smiling more. But she seemed to be struggling even harder to breathe. It began to take a toll on my heart. It was hard to see her in conditions that are not ideal for her health and development. Besides the progress she was making, each day seemed the same- the joy of seeing her smile in the morning and the sadness in leaving her in the same conditions that afternoon. By the third day, I wanted to give up. I knew we only had one more day, and I wasn’t sure it even mattered. How would I be able to help this sweet little girl? I have never seen a child so sick. She needed special attention. One day, I’d love to be that person. But that’s 5 years and 2 bachelor’s degrees away. In the meantime, it was breaking my heart to see her struggle. So…I escaped. I left her in the playroom with the others and went upstairs to the babies’ room. Holding tiny babies who spend most of their time sleeping seemed like an ‘easier’ option to me. After leaving for lunch, I wasn’t sure I could come back. It seemed ‘too hard.’ But I did. I spent the afternoon singing and praying over each of the kids in Natasha’s room. And I didn’t allow myself to be consumed by negative thoughts; I simply focused on each of the kids I played with. But that night, I battled many emotions. I was angry at the people who abandoned their children. I was heartbroken for them and I was frustrated at the absence of special attention. Why, God? Why not me? Why them? I didn’t think I could go back the next day. I had just barely made it through this afternoon and then, God showed me something amazing. No, their circumstances aren’t ideal, it isn’t fair that they were abandoned. It isn’t fair that I’ll be going home to a nice house and good food, while leaving them in the same situation. But just like the Steven Curtis Chapman song I was singing to them a few hours earlier, “God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture he’s painting. God is God and I am man. And I’ll never understand it all. For only God is God.”

He has a plan for each of those children. He created them; He loves them. He has a different story for each of them and placed them there for a reason. Just like He placed each member of our team there for a different purpose. And the most amazing part, those kids had more of an impact on my heart than I had ever had on theirs. Through them, He taught me to truly trust His plan. He also allowed me to see how blessed they were. No, their circumstances aren’t ideal but it could be worse. They could be on the street, starving and alone. Instead, they’re in a home together. They are safe, they have food and they have people that love them. That night, I realized that obedience for me was to get on the bus and go that next day. I knew I was supposed to spend the entire day with Natasha no matter how hard it was. I felt Him calling me to ‘Rejoice.’ Philippians 4:4,8 says,” Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ....And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And so, I did. It was an incredible experience and I'm so thankful for the time I had with Natasha!