Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grace's Story in The Corner News!

Grace's Story- Beauty from Ashes

In 2009, I went to Honduras for 2 weeks without knowing anyone or where I was going. I ended up in La Moskitia. A region that covers the east coast of Honduras and a little of Nicaragua. This region is the poorest most corrupt region in this area of the world. It is a part of Honduras that is looked down on by the rest of the country and mostly forgotten. It is separated from the rest of the country by jungle ( its a 2 and half hour plane ride to a city). La Moskita also has its own language which is another barrier. Puerto Lempira where I will be in the only city with some electricity and running water. My heart was broken for these people so I went back this past summer for 3 months. This is when I met Grace, and knew that this is where I am supposed to be.

Grace was a 5 and a half month old baby brought by her grandmother House of Hope looking for help for malnourishment. I named her Grace. When she first came to the House she was suffering from severe malnourishment and weighed only 8 pounds. Her skin was dying, literally falling off in sheets. She had worms under her skin -- worms that you can only get from the dirt on the ground. Her arms and legs were so stiff that she couldn't move them. She had been left alone for so long that it was almost like she had arthritis.

I was immediately drawn to Grace. This baby that no one in the House would touch, not even the nanny. Everyone else was scared of her because she looked almost like death and possibly had AIDS. But it didn't matter. There was something so special about Grace from the very first minute she arrived at the House of Hope. I felt so connected to her that I couldn't stand to be without her. I would keep her until the last possible minute, right before I went to bed, and then take her back to her grandmother's. I would wake up at 4:30 the next morning, after a restless night, go get Grace and spend time with her all day.

On the third morning Grace's grandmother came to me as I was sitting alone in a rocking chair. No one else in the house was awake yet. Her grandmother began to open up to me about their family situation. She told me that Grace's mother was dying of AIDS and if she did die, then the Grandmother wouldn't be able to feed the baby. She was laden with despair telling me that she "couldn't have another baby die". Within a matter of minutes I was "Grace's mom".

That day I moved Grace into my room and we shared my bed for about the first 2 weeks. I got up with her every hour of the night. I had to learn how to feed her, bathe her, and hold her. Miraculously she began to grow and move and babble. Within weeks she was rolling over and started to grab her bottle. She could even suck on her toe and was gaining about a pound a week! Grace was such a precious little fighter and her overall health and development was improving at alarming rates!

About a month into my relationship with Grace I felt like God really confirmed to me that this was His plan. I was feeding her breakfast one morning when she looked up at me -- as clear as could be-- and said "MOM" and went right back to eating. It was more clear to me than ever before that Grace is my daughter.

After a while Grace's grandmother came back for a visit. She took one look at Grace and said "gordita," or "little fat one". Grace's grandmother spent the whole afternoon with her, just loving on her and playing with her. When it came time for the grandmother to leave she brought Grace back to me playfully saying, "go back to mama". But then, with sincere generosity, she told me "she knows you are her mom". Grace's grandmother gave me a big hug and kiss and headed back to her village hours away by boat and by foot.

Later, Grace and I were on one of our daily walks through town and a lady came up to me and identified herself as Grace's aunt. She told me more about Grace's mom and I told her about how much better Grace looked and how much she had improved. The aunt informed me that she had never really seen Grace before now, so she couldn't tell how much she had grown. It just broke my heart. After that I took Grace for weekly visits to see her aunt who lives in Puerto Lempira. She gave me the mom's phone number and we tried to get in touch with her but never did. It is now thought that she is in prison in La Cieba.

Throughout the rest of my stay in Honduras Grace and I developed an even closer bond and I grew to love her even more. All of the children at the House of Hope are so precious, and every one of them is a miracle. But Grace is my miracle. The Lord has entrusted her to me for a time here on Earth and I feel so honored to call her my daughter.

It has been such a blessing to get to know Grace's family. I love finding out every detail about them. I can't wait to see how the Lord grows our relationship. I want Grace to be involved with her family as much as possible. She is my daughter now and it tears me apart to not be with her for the next 10 months. I am going to miss her first words, her crawling, and maybe even her first steps. She's going to call someone else mom. But I know that the LORD has a reason for me coming back school.

Grace is the inspiration for ACTS House. It was already my passion before I went to Honduras this summer; but now, having a daughter has made it even more clear to me that this is what I am called to do. I am called to open up my home to orphans, abandoned children, and street kids.

For me, Grace has been a picture of the Lord's love for us. Even when we are difficult, He still loves us. He still longs to be with us. He never gives up on us. His desire is to be with us every second of every day. When we are away He wants to be with us. He thinks we are beautiful even if the world says different. The world said Grace was trash but the Lord says she is a daughter of the King. She is beautiful!!!

I am still waiting for the results of Grace's HIV test, it takes a while because since she is under 18 months old she still has her mothers antibodies. Until then we are praying that Grace did not contract the disease from her mother. But even if she did, Grace still needs a mom and I will raise her. She will still be my daughter.

At this time, Grace is now 9 months old and weighs 15 pounds! She is almost crawling! She is growing hair and has four teeth. Greatest news of all she has a birth certificate!!!

I am going to get to go back to Honduras and stay with her for a month over Christmas break. I will get to celebrate my birthday, Christmas, New Years and Grace's 1st birthday all in Honduras (I'm super excited if you can't tell).