Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Brings a Big Surprise

How this can possibly be Friday? Even my kids are confused. Where did the week go??

The week got off to a rocky start when I was knocked flat by a stomach virus. It was violent!
Tuesday I was shaky and once again relieved I work at home. I could work for an hour or so, and then collapse for an hour or two. Hooray for working at home!

Tuesday and Wednesday were my two teaching days. I do the training and teaching of the nannies and staff members on Tuesday and then on Wednesday I teach a Bible study to four of the nannies who have shown special interest.

Those are some of my favorite hours of the week. Even my physical weakness was set aside for that time.

Thursday was spent working on things I should have done on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

This brought us to Friday. Today. This morning.

One of the first things I was told by our handyman this morning was that a baby had been brought to the orphanage by her aunt. My heart sank because we just don't have any beds open.

The new boys' cottage is nearly ready but we are waiting on delivery of the aluminum roofing sheets to cover the roof. Since the rains have started we urgently need the roof to be done before we can move the boys in. Unfortunately, the roofing sheets are stuck on a truck somewhere between Lusaka and here.

So, when this new baby showed up at the door I didn't even want to see her. I knew my heart would break in two.

Upon hearing she was over one year old I encouraged the aunt to take the child to the Social Welfare office to apply for assistance with milk or food. Since this wasn't a tiny baby I felt she could eat and do alright.

A couple hours later as I helped Troy with his math lesson, Tom told me the lady had brought the baby back again. This time she had brought a letter from the local clinic which stated that the baby was severely malnourished and without our help would most likely die.

Now I had to see the baby. I couldn't avoid it.
I walked out to our driveway and came face to face with the sweetest little girl. She has the most amazing little eyes.

 Maggie's mother died on Saturday and her father died a couple years ago. I was originally told she was just over a year old. The letter from the clinic listed her as 19 months old. But, her paperwork (the Under-5 card which is a weight and immunization record) shows her to be 2 years old this month!

Even her aunt was shocked by this revelation. Maggie's family lived a couple hours north of Kazembe and only moved down here last week as the mother's health was failing rapidly. Maggie has eight brothers and sisters. No one really knew much about this tiny little girl.

The first thing that hit me was how swollen she is. Those chipmunk cheeks are not healthy. They are caused by edema from Kwashiorkor which is a type of malnourishment. Her hair was beautifully braided, but that didn't hide how sparse and orange tinted it was--also a classic sign of malnourishment.

You can see how fragile her little neck is. Because she is so weak she can sit up, and (I've been told) crawl, but she can't yet walk. As I stroke her back gently, her bones feel as fragile as a bird.

The moment I took Maggie into my arms, after a tiny bit of fussing, she snuggled right into my neck. She is such a good little girl who seems genuinely grateful for loving arms.

I've loved the kids' reactions to Maggie joining our family. The oldest children looked at her with very big eyes as I explained that her mommy and daddy had died and so Tom and I would be her mommy and daddy now and they would be her brothers and sisters. They all solemnly greeted her with: "Hello, Maggie".

Peter came up to her at snack time and stroked her leg saying, "nice, nice", as if she were a puppy or kitten. Then he looked up at me and asked, "where did you find it?". 

Because she is so, so tiny--only 6 kilos (13 pounds)--and is so behind developmentally, we wondered if perhaps she had come with the wrong paperwork. However, she has a full mouth of teeth.

Pray for her health. Her HIV status is still unknown. We'll be getting a test done as soon as possible so we can pursue the right treatment. In the meantime, we're treating her for the malnourishment with a special milk recipe and taking care of any hidden infections with a broad spectrum antibiotic.

This afternoon when she woke up after her nap on my bed, she was just lying there with her eyes open, looking around the room. I called to her softly saying, "Maggie". She said, "hmmm?" and turned to look at me. At that moment I realized how old she really is. She is old enough to be aware of her name. She is old enough to realize she is in a new situation. She is old enough to miss her mom. And at that point my heart broke completely and I wept. Pray for her to feel our love so her heart can heal.

You might be wondering how we solved the bed situation.We have temporarily moved two of our oldest boys into a room that used to be used for staff members and that has a bunk bed in it. It is right next door to a room where a nanny sleeps so they will be close to help if they need it.
We moved two of the 5 year old girls over to the preschool bedroom, and this freed up two cribs--one for Michael, who at six months had well outgrown his cradle, and for Maggie.

We hope to have the five oldest boys moved into their cottage soon. Pray for this!


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