Christmas Village Programs:
Christmas parties with the children from the local city school:
Community awareness Christmas program at the mall:
Nancy & Genesis signed “O Holy Night” in LESHO.
We had just finished dropping off the deaf at their houses after church like any other Sunday. As we came around the corner we saw a smoking truck crashed head-on with a concrete telephone pole; the driver hanging out the window waving his arms around and laughing hysterically. We decided not to stop not knowing if it was safe, who knows what the driver was involved in, he appeared ok, and someone else would stop. Then we saw Rachel. A 4-year-old little girl sitting on the side of the rode just behind the totaled truck. We ran to get her and saw the rest. Her mom and dad were laying in ditch along with the motorcycle they were traveling on. I immediately started praying.
I picked her up and tried to comfort her. She asked if her mom and dad were dead. I saw both of them moving their bloody legs or arms so I could truthful tell her no. I asked her what her name was and how old she was and she was able to tell me, as well as her birthday was going to to be on Wednesday! I asked what hurt and she said just her mouth that was bleeding but she appeared to have no missing teeth, at least no more than a normal almost 5-year-old!
Rachel’s mother had more apparent sever injuries that required medical attention so I climbed in the nearest taxi with Rachel in my lap. Some men that had stopped to help behind us lifted her mother into the back seat. We were just 3 short minutes from the nearest governmental hospital, just enough time to pray with the mom. The hospital had an emergency room that her mother was quickly rushed off to and her dad followed, but I was instructed to take Rachel to the children’s room. As we walked in I set her on the nearest clean exam bed. I’m no doctor, but I could tell through her little black leggings that she had broke her femur.
The nurse handed me a slip of paper and told me to take it to the pharmacy to buy the saline solution and pain medication and that they wouldn’t do anything until they had that. Daniel took the slip of paper down the hall, out the door of the hospital and down the street to a little shack where he got the solution and meds.
After hooking her up to an I.V. we waited and waited and waited for what felt like forever. Rachel and I talked and listened to “Jesus music” (as she called in) on my phone. I learned that she loved to play soccer and dance. She wanted to be a teacher when she grew up and wanted a pink princess cake for her birthday. Finally, a nurse came in without saying a word, whipped out scissors and began to cut off her clothes… Rachel yelled, “Don’t cut off my leg!”
The nurse made the same diagnosis I had an hour earlier. We waited some more. The grandparents were more concerned with her parents that we could hear screaming in the room next door with the paper thin walls. She went in and our of sleep and when she was awake, insisted that her leg was fine and she was ready to go eat chicken. I later found out the accident occurred when a drunk driver plowed into the moto her family was riding on after church on the way to get a chicken lunch.
Hours later a doctor looked at her and after an x-ray decided she needed surgery to set her leg before casting it…but the anesthesiologist wouldn’t be in until the next morning, but the doctor that needed to do the surgery was on vacation until 2 days later. So the plan was to give Rachel enough IV fluids and medication to hold over her pain and hunger until both the doctor and the anesthesiologist could be there, but then there were also 4 other people on the surgery list ahead of her. It was going to be days before this poor little girl was going to get any medical attention. I prayed that God would care for this little girl, and He answered in big ways!
Then I remembered a hospital in Balfate, that was out in the middle of nowhere (about 1 hours drive in car from where we were). It was a North American run hospital that employed North American missionaries and Honduran doctors and nurses that focused on their nearby surrounding community. I called a friend of a friend that works the children’s home connected to the hospital, with a long shot question, “Can we bring Rachel to the hospital?” Long story short, they were short handed but had several experiences where they had seen patients that had had surgery in the hospital that Rachel sat in, and later had to amputate the limb because of infection. They understood that the quality of life for this young girl was at stake. She may never dance again, play soccer again much less walk across the stage at her graduation or now the aisle at her wedding! We left the family to think about it as they were still tending to the parents and had a lot of decisions ahead of them. The next morning, after much thought and discussion, the family called to say they would like to take us up on the offer. The North American doctor at Loma de Luz told us to set her leg as best we could with towels and a belt to transport her. After picking up acrylic casting in the city from a medical supply store, we drove Rachel, her grandmother and her father out to Balfate. The father was just released from the hospital and was in extreme pain but had no broken bones and refused to leave his daughter, as he felt responsible for the accident, apologizing to her at every opportunity.
The doctors and staff took amazing care of sweet Rachel and were able to set her leg without invasive surgery!
We visited Rachel and her mother (who had shattered her pelvis, broken several bones on her foot and ribs and had extensive bruising all over) the day after her birthday after she returned home. We continued to visit them over the next few months to play UNO, connect the dot game, pray for them and encourage the two as they were bedridden for more than 3 months.
This past week, Reina, Rachel’s mom called to invite us to to her kindergarten graduation. She explained that Rachel had gotten her cast off and she wanted us to see her WALK across the stage. We joined the family for dinner, songs and dancing (all in candlelight, as in typical Honduran style, the electricity had gone out for the night). It seemed to come full circle thanks to some amazingly sweet staff at Loma de Luz and a gracious God; after the possibility of Rachel never walking again turn into a sweet relationship with a sweet family and getting to see Rachel walk into her first of many stages of life, with TWO legs! May this young life shine for Him wherever her legs may take her!
Here in Honduras, soccer is everything! We had to learn the names and mascots of the major teams to be able to connect with many of the boys. 🙂 So as we were planning a special day for the teen boys at the school, a soccer theme was the logical choice! We took biblical concepts and related them to soccer in attempts to make abstract concepts of God and salvation more relatable and understandable. (I know, I know, it sounds ridiculously cheesy, but here in Honduras, the cheesier the better!)
Today we finished our Christmas program in the village of Sonaguera and I was reminded more than ever how very much our presence means to the deaf!
We pulled up to Angeli’s house, a 13 year old girl, who has been part of our programs for just 6 months. At the first program she attended, her dad called 3 times to see if she was crying yet. After the 3rd call he finally explained that it is the first time she has gone anywhere with other children without crying from being teased about her deafness. So it was ironic when the first thing her mother told me this December day was that she had been crying the last hour because she thought we weren’t coming for her that day. You see we had left about 30 minutes late that morning! To Angeli, her time with Signs of Love was more than just a “get-together”, it was the first time in her life to be accepted by others her age or anyone outside her family for that matter.
Melkin, who has been part of SofL for years now, jumps up and down and fist pumps as she is handed a white piece of paper with black scribbles on it (the calendar that reminds the families when we will be back the following month). She attended school when she was younger, but like so many other deaf in the education system here, she was brushed aside, sat in the back and ignored until “graduation day” when she was handed a diploma with a name she was unable to read on it. Melkin now knows her name, and although she can’t read the calendar that is given to her every month it means the most important thing to her, the people from Signs of Love will be back again, to put her front and center in their attention, to be loved on and believed in!
Norbin, who has a very short attention span and little language, was brought to us by another deaf young lady that has been part of SofL since she was small. She knew the difference it made in her life the first time she was given language, the ability to communicate her basic needs and wants, her thoughts and dreams and she wanted Norbin to have this opportunity as well! After we prayed over the deaf in attendance today, we hugged each of them as we pilled in the car to take them home. Norbin insistently tapped me, pointed to his calendar, pointed to me, and then pointed to where we were standing and anxiously waited for a response. He wanted to know if we were coming back in the future. I nodded my head and a huge smile came across his face. He quickly found Nancy (a deaf missionary from here), insistently tapped her until he had her full attention for his important question. He pointed to her and to the spot they were standing. She nodded and he giddily skipped away to find Orlan. You can guess what he had to ask Orlan (another deaf Honduran)! He climbed in the van bouncing up and down, hardly able to contain his excitement that we would come back and that we would go to his house and that we would “listen” to all that he wanted to talk about. To Norbin, it was more than just a “get-together”, it was a time of being seen and of realizing dreams.
For so many of the deaf, their time with Signs of Love is the only time they are fully loved for who they are. It’s the only time that someone believes that they have skills and abilities. It’s the only time they are listened to. It’s the only time they have with other children like themselves. It’s the only time they get to see Jesus!