In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Like Springtime

Ti Fi,

Ill-equipped though your grand-father was to raise a baby, he did not visit the magistrate for a full two months after your Manman died. Surely, his steps were leaden on the way to the court that day. There must have been some level of struggle in his mind, between the desire to hold fast to you, his tiny grand-daughter, and the need to give you up for your own sake. If there had not been such a struggle, why would he have waited?

You arrived at our home, sick and emaciated, parched in body, and with eyes that betrayed a heart, equally parched by grief. A beautiful flower, scorched and uprooted. That was you, Ti Fi. And so I planted you in the garden of my own heart.

There was no relief in her countenance. There were gentle hands to tend to her, there was treatment for her dehydration and there were medications for the fever and infections that wracked her little body. Still, she refused to feed, and was in a state of decline. She needed love, I knew, and an abundance of it. Dixie was in the States with Vivianne, a key member of the Haitian staff. I was tired from the additional duties I had taken on, and yet, a still small voice urged me to open my arms and draw Ti Fi close. And that is how she ended up in my room.

Sure enough, within a matter of days of moving in with me, Ti Fi smiled. They say that the best prognostic indicator (of survival) in a severely malnourished child is a smile. Here it was; hope born in both our hearts.

As the days and weeks passed, I saw a rejuvenation in Ti Fi's spirit that spoke of the miracle of God's creation; the capacity of a child's heart to heal. New growth as in springtime. She began looking at the NICU nannies and nurses with wonder and she became very interested in toys and in her surroundings. Soon, she she found a voice. 'Ah haa haa' (the cutest giggle), Hi nah (a greeting), 'aaah' (to express her delight) and 'hey' (this one is to get our attention.)
Did I mention that she sings too?
She found the strength to sit unsupported, when, a few days before she couldn't even hold her head up. Within the month she was not only weight bearing on her legs but she was "climbing" from my lap to the top of my head, beaming and triumphant.

Yet love alone has not been enough to restore this precious girl's broken body. She has had an NG tube for 6 weeks now, much longer that I am comfortable with. It seems that Ti FI has health challenges, the extent of which we do not fully understand at this point. She becomes breathless when she sucks her bottle or eats from a spoon. Her heart races and she sweats. She is only able to tolerate formula that is comprised of partially broken down proteins, and she must be feed small regular volumes if she is to hold her feeds down.

Her weight gain is slow, even now that the diarrhoea and vomiting are under control. If early indications are anything to go by, it may take three times longer to recover this baby from her malnutrition than I would have hoped.

More time, more work, more patience than I thought I had. More laundry and more frustration than I thought I could deal with. And looking at this precious girl, who has suffered so much sickness, loss and pain, and who is so absolutely brimming with joy, how can I possibly say that I am overburdened? What reason have I to complain?

'I am he. I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you...' (Isaiah 64:4).

Ti Fi weighed 8lb and 40z on admission. Today she has gained 3lb. She is becoming chubby, and she is a beautiful, delightful baby who absolutely has my heart.

Ti Fi with 'M' (left). He is my boy, she is my girl and M has whole heartedly accepted Ti Fi as his baby. They are so cute together. He is very protective and will not allow the other children to touch her. He points out a great many things of note to her. Ti Fi, much to M's delight is smiley and responsive.
She seems to have turned a corner this weekend; I haven't used the NG tube at all. She needs continuing prayer for healing. So Lord, heal this precious baby of ours according to your perfect will, and give her for every sickness, every sorrow and every pain she has suffered, a double portion of joy.



Wendy said...

Hi Susan, I am reading your blog here in New Zealand and crying for all the children. It sounds as if you are "spending yourselves on behalf of the hungry", Isaiah 58 v 10. Then He will satisfy your needs and strengthen your frame. Wow.
To practicalities - does TiFi have a cardiac condition? or has she developed a cardiomyopathy due to malnutrition? Love and grace to you, Wendy Stewart

Catherine said...

Hi Susan,
It is always great to reat your posts.... Time flies and I am arriving next monday to appear in front of the judge. So I can't wait to meet you ;-)))))
See you next monday !!!
Catherine (momy to Nad├Ęge)

BSC said...

Praying for continued healing for Ti Fi. It was great to meet you briefly last week and to sense your quiet gentle strength. Blessings to you and all of the Tiny girls and boys that you minister to.

Beth in Nova Scotia

Cheryl said...

Ah Susan--God has surely placed you in TiFi's life as well as M's! (M looks really cute with his head shaved!)

My continued prayers are being said for your strength and health as you care for the littlest ones.