Several weeks ago, life and ministry here in Monterrey took me on a roller coaster (literally) at a theme park with some of my favorite boys and later in an ambulance with another one of those boys. We were at a water park on a field trip with a visiting mission team and had an incredibly fun day. The kids got to go on ride after ride for hours and I was able to join them. We screamed, we laughed, we floated down the lazy river and soaked up the sun.
When it was time to leave and get out of the water so all the kids could get changed into dry clothes for dinner, we had a little bit of trouble getting a few of the boys out of the water. They wanted to stay a little bit longer. In the rush and craziness of trying to explain in English to the Americans and in Spanish to all of our kids that it was time to get changed and give them directions to the bathrooms and the dinner location - Sammy told me that one of our boys was hurt and that the theme parks' first aid staff were with him. So I ran over to see what was going on. Laying on the concrete stairs was Gustavo surrounded by paramedic people. He was obviously in pain and kept crying telling over and over again about how these bigger boys pushed him and he fell and hit his leg on the stairs.
The paramedics decided that it was very important that Gustavo get an X-ray. They kept saying over and over to me that kids can be seriously hurt and that we need to take all the necessary pre-cautions.
I pretty much told Gustavo to be a big boy and just walk it off.
The paramedics decided that Gustavo needed to be put on a stretcher. Which they did. But first they put a brace type of thing on his leg to immobilize his leg which made him scream and cry some more. They carried him off to their first aid room on a stretcher with me and Sammy following close behind.
At this point, the paramedics wanted to know his full name, birthday, address, emergency contact phone number, his parents names, etc. We as discretely as possible had to break the news to them that sweet Gustavo is an orphan who lives in an orphanage. And so it began - for the next several hours Sammy and I kept signing release forms as Gustavo's legal guardian. Moments like that really tug at your heart - you have a screaming and crying child who is obviously in physical pain combined with my own fear that he'll be embarrassed or feel like a total loser if everyone knows he's an orphan. You know in the end - no matter what - his leg will be fine - cast or no cast - but it's his heart that concerns me. He's been wounded enough as it is - he doesn't need more emotional scars on his heart. So I got protective. I normally am but especially then.
Before myself or Sammy could figure out what was happening - we were with Gustavo in an ambulance and headed to some hospital that I had never heard of.
The paramedic and the ambulance driver did not know what to make of Sammy and me. Sammy was trying to be comforting to Gustavo and let him know over and over again that everything was going to be just fine. At that point, I asked the child if it would be alright if I marked the moment with a picture. He gave his consent.
At the hospital, we had to go through all the legal guardian questioning all over again. I signed consent forms. Sammy signed some more. They eventually took some X-rays. But they came back totally normal. So they decided to call in a bone specialist. The specialist wanted to check into perhaps some nerve damage that might have been done considering the fact that Gustavo was still screaming and crying anytime anyone touched his leg. At one point, the doctor told Gustavo that his leg wasn't broken. Once Gustavo heard that, he moved his leg. He checked it out. Then he started to put his shoes on as if nothing had ever happened. About 10 minutes later, Gustavo walked out without a limp out of the emergency room to head towards the car. Now Sammy and I were thrilled and I mean thrilled that he wasn't hurt. I had been praying about how in the world was this fantastic swimmer going to be able to swim this summer if he had a cast on?!?! And how was I going to bathe him?! But sure enough - there was nothing wrong with him. He just needed the doctor to say that his leg wasn't broken. At the same time though, we couldn't help but feel as if we had been played a bit.
But there is something that we know about this sweet child in particular - he is extremely sensitive. It is possible and likely that he has some sensory processing issues from a lot of the behaviors he has displayed in the past. So looking back at the entire afternoon and how it all played out - I could see how we could end up in an emergency room with a child who is not trying to lie - but completely fine. He wasn't faking it. He felt pain. But he was fine.
This past week, I feel like I've been doing the exact same thing in my walk with God. I'm freaking out about all sorts of things. I'm nervous. I can't sleep. I'm fighting battles to defend my kids as best as I can. And I've been a total mess. At one point, I had to lie down because I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. I kept telling myself, "you are way too young to have a heart attack." I'm a planner and I want to know more or less how to plan my time but lately - everything has been so up in the air that I just couldn't handle it. I just needed someone to tell me what I know to be true - God is in control. I don't need to freak out about things that are not within my realm of control. I am going to be fine. But for a while there - I guess I wasn't sure of that.
Debriefing ourselves later, Sammy and I just kept saying how we hoped that Gustavo felt loved and cared for. We hoped that he felt like we would always meet his needs as best we could. We hoped that he felt like we were listening and hearing his voice. Abandoned children often lose their voice in a lot of ways. All too often there aren't caring, committed adults around to listen to them when they had a bad day at school or when someone hurt their feelings or when they need help to learn a new concept. So we rejoiced at one simple fact in the midst of our frustration and feeling like we had been taken for a huge a lie - his voice was heard. And honestly, in everything I do throughout the week including the occasional ambulance ride - that's all that really matters.