Almost 6 years old… but she was adamant she was only four. Severe malnutritioncomplicated by highly contagious and late stage tuberculosis and severe pneumonia. Her lungs were filling with fluid.

We put her in a private hospital and spared nothing. Tests were done, blood transfusions given, medications both through IV, intramuscular, orally. She stayed on oxygen just so she could breathe. Eating? Every meal was a fight but after just a few days, she seemed to rally. Her color was more pink and she was resting better. I dared to hope.

The doctors complained of her rudeness, of how mean she was, and how she was just a nasty little girl until I explained what I had unearthed. She was abused; neglected and unloved by the relatives who had cared for her for the past 2 years.

She struggled the last 48 hours… more than I would have liked.

In the afternoon, she was fighting to breath. The fluid in her lungs drowning her. She laid her head on Brittany’s chest and with tenderness, Brittany sang to her and held her close.

By evening, she was unconscious and we waited quietly by her side. The only sound was the hum of the oxygen and her gurgled breathing. We talked in whispers and tried to make sense of the last week and of what we were sure would be a miracle.

It was late and I took her tiny cold hands in mine, and caressed them. “Its okay, sweetheart. We love you. I will explain to your family. You can rest now. You don’t need to fight anymore. Jesus will hold you. He loves you so very much… you can fly to Him.” I sighed and I prayed the angels would come.

And they did. She quietly took her last breath without a struggle.

We wrapped her in the purple sheet that was on the bed and I went to deal with the family, the funeral home, the morgue, the doctor’s fees, the medical bills, and the fact that many of us were now exposed to highly contagious TB.

I think we were all moved by Jellyn’s desire to live.

But more than wanting to experience life, I think it was something else Jellyn was searching for. She was starving for love. Love unconditional, unreserved, gentle and true.

I know we did everything medically that there was to do and I know that in the end, she did experience love. She couldn’t have died alone. I believe she would have hung on and on until she felt valued and cared for.

And now she is in heaven, singing with the angels and she can breathe and run as good as any other 5 year old. And she probably has all the books, bags, and dolls she ever wanted. And most of all, Jesus is there to hold her and she cannot help but know
she is loved.

For God IS love.

Thank you to all of you for being part of this journey with Jellyn. Her medical bills will amount to what I had guessed, almost $5000. If more money came in, perhaps we could set it aside for the renovations to our medical ward that we need so badly. Let us know how you feel about this.

She is almost 6 years old. January, I think, is her birthday. The details were sketchy.No one really knew what was wrong with her and as it often is, information isreleased slowly only as trust builds, or one persists.

She was brought to us during the US Marine medical mission in Malabon on Monday.It was obvious she was dehydrated and her feet, knees and face were swollen. Shewas malnourished and was very weak. Her nail beds were blue and she was strugglingto breathe. She was a very, very sick little girl.

The older sister told her she needed to go with me so she could go to school. Theolder sister told me the relatives had given up trying to get her well. Her mother wasdead and her father insane.

We took her home with us, the drive was hard on everyone. She was in terribledistress, and in a lot of pain. She apologized for having diarrhea and asked if I wasmad at her. I told her everything would be okay. She asked me for a bag, a pair ofshoes, and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, a doll.

It only took a few hours of observation and I knew, for any chance for her to live, wewould have to go to hospital. She was too sick. Her lungs sounded like the ocean…full of water.

After 24 hours the diagnosis was grim… serious, contagious tuberculosis. Severepneumonia. Fluid retention. Her organs were shutting down. A blood transfusion wasordered.

We sat on her bed last night and she prayed so earnestly. “Jesus, please help me. I’mhaving a hard time.”
I hugged her and told her Jesus heard her prayer. He would work something out.

So, someone asked me what I need and really, I just need money. We’re trying tobe aggressive. She wants to live so badly. She wants to go to school. Tuberculosis,pneumonia, malnutrition – all are treatable if the meds are managed correctly. We cansave this little girl… I think.

She has fought to stay alive for this long all by herself… at least I want to try andfight with her.

As with many of our children, someone who knew our work, brought the sibling group of 4 last week.

The mother has been in jail for several months. The father goes to work on Monday, leaving the 7 year old to care for the 5, 4,and 2 year old. He leaves no food and no money. When he comes home on Saturday night, if he finds out they have been asking the neighbors for food or water, he beats them.

There are no words to describe the tears of a 7 year old, aged beyond her years with the burden of the lives of her siblings. Her tears are steady as she tells of doing laundry, cleaning the house, scrounging for food for the four of them, and  then the spankings if something is not done right.

I can’t seem to believe what she has lived through.

And the littlest one is the casualty. Born the night of the horrible floods of super-typhoon Ondoy, almost exactly 2 years ago, he lived only to now be slowly starving to death.

I hug them all and tell them they are safe. They have seen too much. There is no emotion; their eyes are deep, black holes. Their hearts are heavy, they walk slowly. They cry no tears at being brought here. They sit staring off in the distance. I am afraid to think what is in their minds. Their little spirits are all but broken.

And the littlest one doesn’t want to live.

I held his bony little face in my hands last night. And I told him he had no choice; he had to live – he had to fight – he was valuable and beautiful and I loved him. And Jesus loved him. He could do this.

He closed his eyes as if to think deeply. It was a few minutes and he opened them slowly. He looked at me. Yes, I said. You will live. I wrapped him up and held him close and carried him for a long time.

“On the day you were born… you weren’t bathed and cleaned up… No one did one thing to care for you tenderly… you were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed.
And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. I said to you, ‘Live!’ And live you did.”

~ Ezekiel 16

I remember the day his birth mother sat in our waiting shed, ready to surrender her tiny, fragile newborn son for adoption. I can remember her eyes as I promised we would find a beautiful family and how her son would be loved and she needn’t worry. It was the most beautiful sacrifice of love.

My social worker and I were blessed to find a foster family that was willing to care for him while we worked on his paperwork for adoption until an adoptive family was found. It was an American couple only in country for a few years, but wanting to give something, somehow.

That was the beginning of 2010. Imagine.

Loving someone else’s child as your own. Covering all the expenses of his care, special milk, special food, medicine and doctor appointments because of some unexpected health issues. Imagine teaching him everything you taught your now grown up children. Kissing his bumps and scrapes the same way you did 20 years ago with your own sons. Singing the same songs to him at night. Taking him to swim classes, to music classes and letting him sleep in your bed.

And you know he is not yours to keep.

Imagine. Not only giving everything he needed physically, but emotionally, too. Loving him with no reservations. And praying for him. Every night.

It took 16 months to get everything ready and to find a family that we thought would be the right match for this little one.

My heart was racing as the moment of introduction came of the foster parents and the parents-to-be. There were tears, with no words, and then words that were unending. I stepped back and let them share, question, and bond. It was beautiful. They became friends in just those first few hours. Their coffee stayed cold in the cups.

They met the child and gently, skillfully, from father to father, he taught him the tricks and showed him the favorite toys. His hands shook as he let the new daddy hold his son for the first time. It was only for a moment and the child ran again to play. But that moment was magic.

The mothers shared stories, recipes, clothes, diaper sizes, and routines. Tears came and went. Sometimes controlled, sometimes not.

And I stood to the side, holding my breath. The realization that it was working, it was beautiful.

Strange to think how people living on opposite sides of the world, actually had driven the same streets in the same county. Had the same taste in handbags. Laughed at the same things and both liked the Red Sox.  I couldn’t have known any of that. They say some matches are made in heaven.

It was time to discharge, and we all knew. The child was doing marvelous. He was entertaining his new mommy and daddy, assured and nudged by his foster mommy and daddy. He was accepting it, carefully, but even his little heart had prepared as best as could be.

God, why was my own heart aching.

My own tears were burning my eyes.

So we stood, in a huddle, arms around each other, all five of us. The little boy, held by his foster daddy, listened quietly. We prayed.

I prayed many things in those few moments and I know God heard every word.

For the foster family, healing, strength, and grace to let go.

For the new parents, who had waited for three years for this day, wisdom, understanding, provision.

For the little child… that he would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. That he would know how special he was and that God’s hand would be on him all the days of his life.

And for a few holy minutes, God arms held us all. And we knew it.

A last hug, tears unashamed, they walked out the door, a new season in their lives.

And the three of us stood, bravely, alone in our own pain, but yet sharing the same grief.

The foster mom, smiled. “The day he was born, he was born into their family. We were just his safekeepers until they could get here.”

Oh, the courage, the grace, the love they had for that little boy.

May they reap what they sowed. And may the adoptive family be blessed beyond measure with the life of their new son.

Godspeed, little one. Godspeed.