She sat on the bench in our patio, visiting her aunt who helps me during the day. I walked out to greet the many children who often congregate there, and I stopped in front of Lupita. She had always been a favorite of mine. We had seen a lot of her off and on during her four years. The happy, singing two-year-old had given way to a suspicious, fearful four-year-old. I had been praying for her, and wishing we might help her, knowing we had to wait until the Lord opened the door.
I stared at her now in shock. Her little face was a mass of scabbing. She sat too still for a child, her hands folded in her lap, silently watching the other children. There was a deadness in her eyes as she stared vacantly before her.
“What happened to you?”
The face crumpled. Her hand pointed at the painful scars and the tears poured. “My Mama hit me!” she cried. She was in my arms. My own tears mixed with hers. How do you comfort such devastation?
I spoke to her aunt, and she agreed that staying with us for a while was the best thing for Lupita. She was struggling to raise five children alone, one of whom was Lupita’s older half-brother abandoned soon after birth. She simply did not have the resources or the energy to deal with a battered child.
As the weeks went on, I was more and more convinced that I would never let Lupita go back to the living hell she had endured for four years. Better a Children’s Home, if push came to shove. Meanwhile, we quietly kept her and loved her, and her birth mother let us.
During those first few weeks my husband was gone on a trip to Nicaragua. After I found Lupita screaming in the living room one night, I put a mattress in our room so I could be close at hand to help her deal with the horrors. I covered her in prayer and sang the name of Jesus whenever the nightmares jolted her awake. Amy Carmichael wrote that as the children shared their horrors with her, she would pray and they would be released from them; this I prayed for Lupita, too. Often I was in tears for her, wishing I could have protected her from the abuse in the first place. Slowly she began to relax, until all she needed to do was look over at me in the night; upon seeing me, she would go back to sleep.
One evening as I knelt down to tuck her in, I took her hand and began to pray as usual.
“Who are you talking to?” she asked in her sweet little voice.
“He’s right here, with us.”
Lupita looked up at the ceiling and all around, eyes wide. “No way!”
I laughed. “Yes way! He is right here with us and He sees us, and do you know that He loves you SO MUCH?”
Within two weeks of coming to live with us, Lupita was talking to Jesus and knew what it meant to have His love in her heart. It became so important to her that the first thing she would ask someone she met was, “Do you have Jesus in your heart?” It was adorable.
As she worked through the garbage that filled her life, she would make a little cross on her chest as if to open it up. Then she would grasp at whatever evil thought was harbored there and pantomime throwing it away. She would then ‘close up’ her heart and pat it gently saying, “Jesus is here.”
Although I hated going to the doctor, I took Lupita at least once a month. Malnutrition, venereal disease, skin disease, rheumatic fever, and chronic bronchitis were among her physical battles. In the spiritual realm, there was the trauma and demonic influence. It was exhausting. (It certainly deepened my relationship with our local doctor, who was a new Christian at the time. It is amazing how God orchestrates all things!)
Through it all, she was a delightful, loving, appreciative child. Her happy laughter charmed everyone. She clung to me like a limpet, going through every child-development stage from infancy to two. Yet they were difficult years. I had ‘better’ things to do than sit in the doctor’s office for hours. Outside ministries went by the wayside while I stayed home caring for a sick child. The Lord encouraged me daily, reminding me that she was one of ‘the little things’ to which I had committed myself to be faithful. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
We have two older children, and there were times when I would think the Lord had sent Lupita more so that He could work in THEIR lives than so that we could help her. They said a new BABY would have been all right, but a four-year-old was unacceptable.
“Tell God about it,” I would advise them. “If you have any complaints about the way that God is dealing with this family, go to God.” I was not in charge. I was only trying to do what God put in front of me to the best of my ability.
My heart would break for all the needy children, but we could not help them all. I am thankful the Lord sent me one to help. However, the blessings she brought to us far outweighed any benefit we were able to give her. Being wholehearted is not easy. God is working on a big plan, and we are limited to being faithful in the little day-to-day things. However, if we keep our eyes on the goal, not turning our backs when we do not like something, continuing to run to Him, we will one day know with certainty that His will is good and acceptable and perfect.
The Lord took Lupita to His own heart just two years after He gave her to us. What was best for her was hardest for us. Worth it? Were all the riches of the world offered me, I would not exchange the opportunity to love and be faithful to one of God’s little things.
Just a Note
Father I was wondering
If you so kind would be,
To take a little letter
To someone dear to me.
She filled a great big corner
In the center of my heart
And the emptiness is painful
Now that we’re apart.
Tell her how I miss her.
Tell her that she’s loved.
Tell her I am happy to
Have known my little dove.
I’m grateful for the kisses,
Grateful for her smile.
Grateful for the chance to be
Her mother for a while.
I miss the hugs she showered
Her delightful winning charms.
I miss the happy laugh she gave
Running to my arms.
Tell her that I’m happy
That she’s now on Jesus’ lap.
Tell her I will press on till
Time will close the gap.
One day there’ll be heaven.
One day we will see
That all the pain and waiting
Was worth eternity.