Today started off rocky as I felt nauseous, light-headed and shaky all morning. I wanted to be able to go lie down or find a cool place to sit and rest, but there really isn't time for that here. We can rest after the hours of 6:15am-5:30pm, but inside of those hours it's not about me.
When lunch rolled around I was asked to pray for the entire group, all 50 or so of us Gringos and Nicaraguans. It was an honor to be able to pray for the team and thank God for everything He has and will continue to do through us, with us, and for us this week. After the prayer I grabbed my allotted sandwiches and settled into our lunch circle where I was seated next to one of the most amazing women I have EVER met.
Meet Karla: sweet, humble, joyful and holds a giant's sized heart in her petite 5'3 frame. She has a smile that doesn't quit and faith that outshines her smile. Karla began to share her story with us and although I will not give it justice, I'll try my best to share it with you:
Karla was married when she was 14 years old. Soon she and her husband would have a child together named Joel Jose. Joel Jose was diagnosed shortly after birth with Polio and the doctor told Karla and her husband that their baby boy would never walk, would most likely not be able to use his arms, and would not make it past 7 years old. Upon this news, Karla's husband left. Her husband thought it a disgrace to have a handicapped child and abandoned the family leaving Karla to become the sole provider for Joel and her mother who lives with them.
What captivated my attention was that as Karla was recounting this part of her past, her smile never really faded. Every single time she mentioned Joel the word "blessing" followed his name. I was sitting there in silence and awestruck by this woman's story and faith, all the while thinking in small mind "why her, God?" However after listening to her describe her precious, paralyzed son, my silent questions started to turn into silent praises of "why not her, God! She can clearly love Joel better than 95% of the people in this world would!"
I have never seen a mother speak so highly and so thankfully as Karla speaks about Joel. She told us that he is getting bigger as he ages and everyday she must ask God for the strength to be able to carry her son from his wheelchair to his bed, to the bath, etc... Although it went unsaid, I am sure she is also asking God daily for not only the physical needs it takes to raise Joel, but also the emotional and financial strength, as I am sure both are equally as great. There is no doubt that God is answering this humble, faithful woman and mother.
On the last day of our clinic we were honored to have Joel attend to see the doctors and receive the medical are he deserves at no cost to the family. Meeting Joel was amazing, but even more amazing was watching Karla lift her son from his wheelchair, carry him across the floor, and hold him as they stood on the scale together. That sight was literally like watching a miracle happen in front of our very eyes. The strength this tiny woman exerted effortlessly was blinding. All 7 of us in the pharmacy stopped whatever we were working on at the time and watched them stand on that scale together on Joel's 14th birthday (August 15th, 2008).
When the doctor's gave Joel Jose 7 years to live, Karla's love and the Lord's grace has given him 7 more. Thank you God for Karla.