I met Maleska in Haiti, several trips ago. He lives in the neighborhood near Valley House of Hope where Love Maidene lives. We used to lovingly call him "the naked kid" as he would run behind our truck smiling and waving without a care in the world. And without a single article of clothing. In July our team had the pleasure of finally getting to know him. This kid is pure, unadulterated sweetness and joy.
Each day as we would step off the bus, Maleska would be there to great us with enthusiastic hugs and smiles that filled his whole face. He would then grab hold of a hand and lead us down the dusty road to the orphanage where we were teaching a group of area pastors. Other children from the neighborhood would walk with us as well, as they do each time we travel to Haiti. But Maleska's presence in our group upset them. Well-meaning little friends would scold us for touching him, warning us that he was "sick" and laughing at what was, apparently, quite a strange sight.
We would allow Maleska to join us for the Pastor's Conference. He would sit proudly, quietly in his own chair, seemingly knowing that the invitation was an honor. Throughout the day, members from our team would take turns sitting by him, scratching his back, and slipping him (way too many) pieces of candy. When we would serve lunch to the pastors, moleska would eat too, receiving his very own soda and plate with rice and chicken. Some of the pastors were obviously bothered by his presence, but they respectfully put up with us crazy Americans and our ideas.
In between sections of the conference I would sneak outside to play with the other neighborhood kids and the VHOH orphans. Maleska would often go outside to play, too. Over the course of three days, I watched his interactions with the kids. Though not always mean, the kids kept their distance. Everyone seemed to understand that Maleska was not one of them.
Even though he was blissfully unaware, saying goodbye to Maleska was terribly difficult. Probably because I was so thankful to God for bringing him into my life at just the right time. He gave me a small glimpse of what life is like for children with Down Syndrome around the world. He showed me just how resilient children can be, and how much difference a little bit of love can make in a young person's life. He confirmed my desire to be a mother to an angel with Down Syndrome. And, he showed me that I could happily parent an older child, and that I should be open to considering it.
Thank you, my little friend. May God bless and keep you, until we meet again.
- Please pray for Maleska. Pray for his health; nurses seemed to think that he is likely infected with Hepatitis. Pray also for his friends and his neighbors, that they would love him well, and learn to enjoy him. And pray that he will be able to maintain his sense of joy and enthusiasm for life, even in the midst of great poverty and suffering. Thank God for the blessing that Maleska is in mine, and so many other lives.
- Pray for my sweet Samantha. Pray that God would send people into her life to care for even the most basic of needs. Pray that she would be put to bed in a fresh diaper, in clean and dry pajamas, on a clean mattress. Pray that she would be nourished, even though her food does not contain the nutrients that she needs. Pray that God would give her what her food lacks. Pray that she will receive loving touches and smiles, and that someone will speak to her kindly. Pray that her mind will be stimulated. Pray that she would know the presence of Jesus in a dark place.