Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Shell?

Recently a Christian pediatrician that was part of a short term team referred to one of the children at the orphanage as "a shell".   He continued to say that this child did not and would never have the capability of doing anything on his own, he did not and would never "feel" love or be able to give it. He was unable to recognize when he was being held or distinguish between anything at all. He would be a drain on the system. ( Deep breath.......another deep breath.....)

The child he was referring to was born without several portions of his brain.  He is blind and has a hearing deficit- although the extent of it is currently unknown.  This little guy, Santiago (James), is 6 months old and is the size of a 2 month old currently.   He is being fed through a nasal tube as sucking is hard for him and takes a very long time- to the point that he was not receiving enough nutrients orally to grow. Does he have some pretty big obstacles against him? Absolutely!

Is he a shell?  Well, what is a shell (besides the name of the community in which we live)?
According to the American Standard Dictionary:

      a hard outer covering of an animal, as the hard case of a mollusk, or either half of the case of a bivalve mollusk.

      any of various objects resembling such a covering, as in shape or in being more or less concave or hollow.

      the material constituting any of various coverings of this kind.

      the hard exterior of an egg.

      the usually hard, outer covering of a seed, fruit, or the like, as the hard outside portion of a nut, the pod of peas, etc.
To some it up: a shell is a covering- the contents inside the shell vary.  Is the inside of an egg worthless? How about nuts or turtles- do they have value?
My question to the doctor was this?  "Is my brain different than yours?"  Of course the answer was yes.  "If we were to scan both of our brains- would the same areas of my brain do the exact same things as those same areas of your brain"?   No......    "Does God create each of us differently and uniquely"?    Yes........    "But Santiago has no value"? "He was created by God to be a shell?"   "An empty shell?" Silence.........     "Shells can contain some pretty awesome stuff and beneficial stuff, huh?"   Awkward silence.........  time to change the subject, so as not to dis-respect this fellow Christian.
How often do we see the outside of someone and think,  "they are a drain on society"?  I mean really, think about it- the homeless man on the street, the drunk who is  rarely if ever sober, the mentally handicapped? They probably don't work or contribute time or energy into making our world a better place.   Are they empty shells? 
May God open our eyes to what HE sees, to what HE thinks of those who are "less than perfect".
By the way,  every time I or someone else picks up Santiago when he is crying and lays him on their chest- he stops crying, his eyes open wider and he moves his head so that he can hear/feel a heartbeat.
Shell? I think my Christian brother was mistaken. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mini-extended vacation

After 7 months of being here, we have our first visitor- our niece Monika.  She arrived this past Wednesday late in the evening in the Quito airport. Since we had to drive the 5 hours to pick her up AND we acquired our drivers license and have access to a car we decided to take a mini vacation and show her (and us) some of the sites.

On Thursday we were able to visit the equator (La mitad del mundo) where the kids walked the line, balanced an egg and of course flushed the toilets - I mean really, we must know which way the water flows on the equator!

From there we drove to Otovalo, a beautiful little town 2 hours north of Quito located in a valley. This town is known for its artisans market.  We stayed the night in a little house which was one of 6 little cottages. Notice the word "little"?  Let us just say that the four "adults" in the group had to duck to enter the doorways and to stand in the kitchen.  I'm pretty sure the cottages were built for Ecuadorians.   The view, however, was stunning.  The market was alive with color and the town was very quaint.

From Otovalo we traveled 2 hours southeast to a village called Papallacta at 11,000 feet.  Years ago our mission organization helped to build a hydroelectric plant and also 4 houses to allow the workers to live on the site. Although the mission has since sold the plant and houses, the new owners allow HCJB missionaries to rent the houses cheaply.  We had planned on renting the house for one night and visiting the natural hot springs.  As we all know, our plans are not always carried out as expected.

On Saturday we loaded up the car to visit the hot springs and lo and behold the car would not start.  No spark. Nothing.  Now, Eric being a jack of all trades and having been a part of a family of 5 boys he is used to being his own mechanic.  With the tools of a fellow missionary who was staying in the house next to us he was able to diagnose the problem. Ignition module fried.

Diagnosis- yes. Parts in a village of 500 people?  Nope.  Praise the Lord we had internet and he was able to call a parts store in our hometown in Michigan and talk through the problem. He was also able to locate a dealer an hour from where we were and still are.

The kids handled it well and spent more time outside hauling cut grass to build a pile to jump into and hiking and swimming in a little pool that was recently built.  Eric is currently at the second dealers shop in hopes of getting the part tested. If the part is truly bad then he will need to travel another hour to get the part and then will return via bus to install it.  Always an adventure!

In the meantime, although the story is not over, we are so grateful to have a roof over our heads, internet and a washing machine and dryer! Although we did not plan on having a 6 day vacation, the Lord knew and prompted us to buy some extra groceries while we had the chance along with laundry soap. He also provided a house that had no other renters for 3 days. Counting our blessings!

Enjoy the photos and we'll let you know how our adventure turns out when we find out ourselves!
 Monika has arrived!
 Straddling the equator.
 The egg has balanced!
 Jacob and the alpaca.
 Checking out the water flow- which way does it go down? (counter- clockwise)
 New hats for all.
 Did I mention the cottages were little? This one is meant for one person.

 The many colors of the market.
Entertainment while waiting for word on the car parts.
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