For the past two years I have been working directly with families almost exclusively from the Micronesian, Chuuk and Marshallese islands. Most of the parents have come over here as adults sometimes bringing their children with them, sometimes leaving them with family back on the islands and then sometimes birthing children here in the states. With them come their different backgrounds, culture, parenting style, foods and many other things. Sometimes it is very hard to understand but we strive to do our best to learn about the families specific island and stories.
Many of the families are very blended and live together or apart like puzzles built out of many random pieces. Sometimes there is abuse and neglect within the homes and other times there is much love and loyalty. There is one family I have grown particularly close to that is very blended, and I don't think I could even explain it if I tried. But one of the daughter/cousins that I will call Lily for this blog, is a particularly sweet one with a sad but redeeming story.
Two years ago when she was around eight years old she had gotten her hands on a lighter somehow and while playing with it she broke it and spilled lighter fluid on herself. Somehow in the moments after she was able to start the flame of the lighter and the fluid that had soaked her clothes went up in flames. These injuries resulted in third degree burns that covered more than 30% of her body including her entire upper legs and torso.
Obviously the weeks she spent in the hospital were horrifically hard and painful, and the two years to follow were as well. For a year she was on a restricted diet to make sure her new growing skin did not rip and she became very thin. She was also never allowed in the water, although she would often sit by the waters edge with us building sand castles and getting her feet wet.
This Wednesday she had the all-clear from the doctor to go in the water! So when we took her to the beach her little body shook with excitement and some hesitation. She was obviously self conscience of her scars and had title desire to be fully exposed. She also had no swim ware as it had literally been years since she could be in the water. Thankfully thanks to many kind donations we had a nice one piece swimsuit and some shorts she could wear. Nervous but excited she walked down to the water hand in hand with Brittany and slowly waded in, to her tummy, her chest, her neck before dunking her entire head under. Coming up from the water she proclaimed "This feels like a dream" and continued to say things like "It doesn't hurt, it doesn't hurt!" and "God is so good! I love Jesus for healing me!"
It was a beautiful thing to see the joy in her eyes! Tonight at Jesus Saves our Youth Group for local kids we talked about "Joy" the second of the fruits on our series of the fruit of the spirit and she shared with her small group "I felt God's joy when I went swimming!"