Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star……
I’ve sat staring at a blank page for an eternity. I find writing take a lot out of me…. Putting my heart and soul out there for all to read is something I find very draining… but here goes nothing.
Being here in Guatemala again seems almost unreal at times. It’s our 3rd visit here in 2010 and that makes it seem unreal… and yet it feels so much like home its scary. The family dynamic we have here is unlike anything we experience anywhere else on the planet. We bicker less, we annoy each other less and we are way more simply a family here. There is no tv, no major distractions so we spend time together doing family things… after working that is… haha
Rachel, one of my youth girls is along with us for a portion of this trip. She expressed that she really felt God was leading her to go so after much thought and discussion between her parents and us we decided to have her accompany us for 12 days. I have to say its amazing to watch a fresh young mind with fresh young eyes see this place for the first time. Its beauty, its people etc. She has fit right into our family and is having the time of her young life. At times she struggles here as we all do. The physical struggle of the work is manageable, it’s the emotional struggle dealing with the broken-ness of our world that is hardest to manage. She expressed through tears the other night that she feels ridiculous complaining about anything in her life after seeing what she has seen here in the short time she has been here. I know that feeling… my entire family does… and I also know that fades after time but I also know that there is a piece of this place that stays with you forever. It’s impossible to come here and not be changed. We are all thankful for each other here… We talk together, cry together, pray together and bond together to help each other manage all we see and feel as a unified community. We can also feel the prayers from home and for those we are eternally thankful!
A few days after arriving here we travelled to the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro to see Hermana Mercedes and gather material lists for the work projects we fundraised for. A trip to the malnutrition hospital is always a struggle for me, a beautiful struggle but a struggle none the less. It was at this place just over 10 months ago that my life was forever changed by a tiny 17year old boy, severely malnourished with brain damage, confined to a crib, by the name of Estuardo. For those of you that have followed my blog you will remember Estuardo rocked my world and my perception of just about everything. Months ago, I cried as I stroked his head and swore to help him and others like him. I knew then and there that God led me to that place to show me the new path for my life. I remember crying more that day than I ever had in my life…. Crying for the needless suffering that severe mal-nutrition brings. I cried at the hospital, the car ride home, back at camp, through dinner, and most of the night as my life changed in an instant.
I guess you could compare it to the Grinch and how his heart grew 3 sizes that day. The day I met little Estuardo lying in a crib my heart not only grew but it changed completely. I would never, ever be the same and I knew it from the moment I laid eyes on him.
All the way to the hospital I wondered how he was and I was so excited to see the boy who unknowingly changed my life. It’s very true what they say… you never quite know how you are affecting the lives of those around you….
After touring the hospital and getting the necessary material lists for the main building repairs it was time to head to the nursery building. My heart was beating fast and I was shaking all over. A familiar face was there to greet us when we walked into the nursery. A tiny little 5year old boy who could not walk during our last visit. We were pleasantly surprised to see him scurrying around on solid legs, he was walking! The rest of the nursery was quiet and pretty much empty except for 2 small girls in strollers and one baby in a crib. The baby was obviously blind and had a severe facial deformity. Basically the worst case of cleft palate I have ever seen where her front teeth were completely visible because they were where her top lip should have been.
I asked Mario to ask Hermana Mercedes where all the children were. She explained that ones that are healthy enough can go home for Christmas to spend time with their families. My heart leapt. I asked about Estuardo. Mario translated that Estuardo was indeed home!!! I smiled so wide and for a brief moment I was elated! Hermana Mercedes sensed my misunderstanding and quietly spoke to Mario to translate. By the look in her eyes I knew instinctively and I held my breath. Estuardo went home to Jesus one month ago. Estuardo had died……
Instantly my eyes filled with bittersweet tears and the room began to spin. I felt the eyes of everyone, my family, Rachel, Hermana Mercedes on me and I began to cry quietly and walked away for a moment. While I know that Estuardo is with God now and free of the pain, suffering and strife of this world it still broke my heart for the loss from this earth a beautiful boy that the world will never have the pleasure of knowing. I had a completely human reaction. As I walked back to join the others I saw all the love and compassion in their eyes. They understood. My family knew Estuardo and all that he meant to me. Even Rachel who had never met Estuardo but had heard me talk of him understood completely. After a few more discussions of renovations etc we were back off home to camp. The 1 1/2hr ride back was very quiet as all rides back from the hospital are. I shed tears yet again on that ride home.
That night I walked around the ground of Esperanza staring up into the night sky. I wish I could describe the night sky here in Guatemala and do it justice. Suffice it to say that there is no denying the existence of God when you gaze up into a clear sky here with its countless stars twinkling everywhere. To me Estuardo is one of those stars… far away and beautiful. I picture him laughing, playing and running into the arms of Jesus… all things he was incapable of doing here on earth in his frail, broken earthly body. I know he is healthy and happy now in Heaven.
Little Estuardo is my twinkling star… forever a piece of me now… I look forward to a day when I can see him again, hug him and tell him exactly what he meant to me and how he changed my life. For now I will be content to remember him every time I see a star twinkling in the night sky anywhere in the world. God speed little one!