Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"God, Will You REALLY Heal The Broken Heart?"

Insomnia. The inability to sleep. The lack of power to shut my brain off and allow my mind to rest. I can no longer blame it on jet lag as that has passed, but I know this is still due to travel because I brought a huge part of Ethiopia home with me.

Her name is Mekedse Germa. Allow me to introduce you to her. Believe me when I tell you that you do not want to miss meeting this little girl and hearing her story. God is pursuing her heart, changing the hearts of those around her, and I want to help the world to see the ashes turning into beauty right before our very eyes. Only God could create such a masterpiece as this.

Mekedse (Mek from this point on - what? don't you give all your children nicknames?) has got to be the most beautiful 10 year old little girl I have ever seen. Her eyes are stunning - not just brown, but a deep brown that reminds me of the color of a coffee bean. A color only created by God. Her skin is perfect and her teeth look as though she has been wearing braces for 2 years. Her hair is soft and wavy and when she smiles...well that is the finishing touch that creates the beautiful masterpiece that she is. Everything about this little girl is absolutely perfect...except for one thing - her heart.

Two weeks ago, I was up on Entoto Mountain when the rain drops started. A sense of dread came over me because we still hadn't been to Mek's house yet and I didn't want to cut our time there short. I had to see her. It was urgent. I had packages to deliver from her sponsor mom (who God has put in my life as a friend now), but most importantly, I needed to see her. With my own eyes, my own stethoscope, my own nursing skills, I needed to see this child and try to figure out what her father could mean when he had reported on the sponsorship form that she had a tired heart when she was little.

We hugged first. I cried a little at seeing her again. It had been SO long - a year since I had last seen this little girl. I think I was even shaking because I was just that thrilled. She was overwhelmed. You could see it on her face. Her eyes were huge. She didn't know my team and I were coming that day. When we settled in, I gave her the presents that her sponsor, Jessica, had sent first. She tenderly held the pink backpack that had everything in it. I could tell she loved and appreciated it so much because she almost didn't want to open it. She wanted to cherish it for a while longer.

We talked through an interpreter for a while and then I started asking questions about her health. I found out from Mek and her friends that she doesn't like to play any sports, she doesn't like to run, she doesn't like to do much of any playing actually. This was a change from the previous year. One friend, Marta, told me that Mekedse never played soccer because she would get very sick. My own heart got sick right there and I finally just pulled out the stethoscope and listened...knowing full well what I was about to hear.

The only way to describe what her heart sounded like is to compare it to a washing machine. It was loud with no distinctive 2 beats. My eyes instinctively got huge and welled with tears. Endihnew, the founder of the nonprofit we partner with on Entoto, gave me the look to play cool. My thoughts on that: How? This child is going to die! She will not live to see 20. She won't. And she lives in a country that can't do anything to help her. It's not fair. Why? Why, God? Why would you let me fall in love with this little girl and feel desperate for her to where I HAVE to help her. Have to. There is no question in my mind. I will help her. Today. Now. Right this second. I should have done this yesterday, last week, last year. I should have helped her last year. Why didn't I think to question her when she sat out half way through playing duck, duck, goose last year?

last year during our game...

But then, those beautiful eyes caught mine, smiled at me, and brought me back to my present reality. Little Mek, precious little Mek was smiling at me, wanting to go to her tiny little house next door and open up all of the presents inside of her bag. She was wanting to know if it was okay if she could go home and look in her bag. She just wanted what the gift. She didn't care about anything else that was going on. Her eyes were focused on the prize!

Walking her outside, I made her put her hood on, and made her promise to share the candy I gave her with her brothers and sisters. I told her that I would see her again in a few days and then  hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She kissed me back on my cheek and walked the rest of the way home.

I was able to Mekedse 2 more times while in Ethiopia and they were two of the most glorious days of my time there. We laughed, we hugged, she stuck to me like glue, and I would not have had it any other way. I was seeing sick kids on the Entoto Feeding Program Day and she was right by my side, watching every single thing I did; absorbing it all. And as much as I was trying to make sure that she was okay with all of the kids coming in and out of the makeshift "clinic" open room, she was right there trying to make sure that I was okay even more.

eating her "caramella" while I examined this little guy's infected foot

On my last day there, as I was preparing to leave for America, Mek was preparing to go to the hospital to get her ECHO. My team had enough money in our budget to pay for Mek to have this done AND see the cardiologist a few weeks after. I tried to go with her but David thought it best not to in case they weren't done in time for me to catch the flight. I wanted to be there; I struggled with not being there. She had been my sidekick the entire time I was on Entoto and I didn't want her to feel afraid. Truth be told, I just wanted to spend my last day with her. I already knew what the ECHO would likely say, so I think spending time with her was more of a comfort for my soul too. A healing balm.

Several days later, the reports were in and the one time I wanted to be so so wrong, it turns out I was wasn't. Our precious Mek has what is called an ASD/VSD with bi-directional shunting and pulmonic valve stenosis. Big words, I know. Basically, she has 2 holes in her heart and the valve that supplies oxygenated blood to her lungs is narrowing and it's also causing too much blood to leak back into the heart. What does this mean for Mek? The doctor in Ethiopia said she needs a medical visa because they can't do anything for her there. This is an open heart surgery on a 10 year old and it is too complex for them.

And this...this is where God allows me to see the beauty of His handiwork. How He has been writing this story for quite sometime,  putting people together in the right place at just the right time, and it's just incredible. Read what her sponsor Jessica wrote to me the other day:

my heart strings got pulled by a picture you posted of Ayhu and I felt called to sponsor her...then the sponsorship falls through and you tell me about Mek and how she has tugged on your heart strings, so I switch my sponsorship...we both happen to be nurses, so when you hear Mek can't run and play and it's because she's "sick", we know better than to accept that and you bring your stethoscope on your trip and immediately know she's got a serious cardiac condition...then Lauren enters in because she graduates college and moved to Ethiopia in June and is passionate about the Entoto Mountain children, so she's able to take Mek to her appointments and handle everything in ET....meanwhile your connections lead you to Gift of Life which happens to have an affiliation with the hospital where I work...and you're going back to ET in December and could bring her back with you... GOD IS GREAT!!!! Sorry to write all that out, but I just had to see it in print!!!

I would love to say that we have been accepted by Gift of Life at this time, but I just got the application sent in today. However, I fully believe that Mekedse will be coming to the USA with me (and hopefully her mother too!!!) in January on her medical Visa and she will be having her heart defects repaired.

I am praying that God will heal our little Mekedse's "broken heart", but if His will is otherwise, then we will choose to lean into Him to heal all of our broken hearts as we cling to the scripture that tells us that God is close to the brokenhearted. And truly, bigger things can still come out of it as we have seen her brother, who had walked away from God, be reinspired by watching his sister over the past two weeks endure testing and hospital visits. He has started attending a private Bible study on Entoto Mountain and has begun going back to church!

While walking through day to day life in a sinful and fallen world, it can be so hard to think with an eternal perspective. But seeing now how this story was woven together over the past year (even down to the past few days), restores me and encourages me in regards to Romans 8:28 - that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.


  1. Sigh. Heartbroken for this 'broken' hearted girl.

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    Broken Heart