Tonight I’m having a hard time sleeping. In fact, it’s about 4 am as I’m writing this. These folks have been on my mind most of the night, so I finally have decided to give in and get up and write.
The last few days have been rather disappointing. . .I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished very much. At the distributions I’ve taken on a lot of the clerical work as Omar, the Hope Haven office manager, has been out sick since he had surgery weeks ago. Typing and taking pictures is not as much “fun” as working directly with clients. After all, I came to Guatemala to work with kids on communication, not be a secretary. Oh, how hard it is for me to put aside my agenda to do the work God has for me in the moment.
I met Rosalinda because, as I worked in the office, I heard someone screaming loudly and unrelentingly. I walked out to find a woman struggling to control her small child. I could not tell at first if this was a girl or a boy. I only knew he/she was in torment, and Mom was looking like she couldn’t take much more. I walked over and gently asked Mom’s permission to touch the child and try to calm her.
As I picked her up, Rosalinda began to fight and struggle even more, and I wondered if I should have left well enough alone. But, slowly, as I managed to get her into a cradled position in my arms, swinging her slowly from side to side, her body began to relax a little. She began to struggle a little less, and scream a little less loudly. (I am so grateful to Sue, a physical therapist from the States who brings down teams, for showing me this calming technique.) After about 5 minutes, Rosie was calm and content, and we could put her back in a sling on her mother.
I think Rosie is probably somewhere on the autism spectrum, and all the people and the change in environment were just too much for her. Mom says she often gets this way, and as she talked about when it happens, it seems like Rosie can’t handle too much stress or change. And Mom is exhausted. There were a lot of things I could “teach” her to do with Rosie, but this single mother of four just doesn’t have the time or energy to do much more than she already is doing. So we just talked about how hard it is to care for a special child like Rosie. It seemed Mom relaxed a little, knowing we weren’t “blaming” her for Rosie’s outburst, and accepted her for who she is.
The social worker from
SOSEP, the governmental
agency who had brought this
family to the distribution, told
me a bit of their story. The
entire family is malnourished,
living in the simplest of
shelter, and barely surviving.
Was there any way I could
help them get food? There
are so many in their community in this state that the social workers have run out of resources.
So, I’m bringing this need to your attention. If anyone is interested in sponsoring this family, a food sponsorship would cost $35 a month to bring in nutritional supplements to this family of five. If you are interested in helping meet this need, please email me for more information.
As I reflect on this encounter, I realize I was exactly where God wanted me, doing exactly what God knew I needed to do to help this family. Mom, I think, needed someone to say they understood how hard her life was. Rosie needed someone who was not too emotionally involved to help her calm herself in a frightening situation. The social worker needed someone to listen to her frustrations as she tries to help so many with so few resources. And I needed to learn it’s not about what I like to do, or even think I should do, but it’s about being available to do whatever God sets before me.
I remember my prayer and “mission” for this year: to love the one person God puts in front of me in each moment. Thank you, Father, for answering my prayer today.
(I’m happy to report that Rosalinda LOVED her wheelchair and seemed to feel safe and secure sitting in it. The look on Mom’s face was priceless as we told her that sitting in it, Rosie looked like any other seven year old “student.” I’ll let you judge for yourself. . .)