When I come back from VisionTrust trips overseas, I frequently have to stop myself from taking random pictures of cute kids at the ice cream shop or the airport. There's just something in their faces—a sweet sense of joy that transcends their surroundings—that I can't help but want to capture.
None exemplify this more than Kate.*
I met her a year ago while leading a team to an HIV/AIDS Transitional Home VisionTrust partners with in the Dominican Republic. At four years old, her Spanish was unusually limited and she had never walked before. But still, she would constantly motion for more and more pictures to be taken as she posed in her purple casts. I was inspired by this four year old's resiliency after surgery on both of her legs didn't change her joyous demeanor. And when I asked about her story I was humbled by the struggles she'd been through that I could never comprehend.
This year I travelled with a team back to the home and did a double take when little Kate came running into the room. She was just as bubbly as ever, now able to keep up with the other kids chasing balls, giving the team new hairdos and dancing. There are a few Dominican models that are coming to serve at the home soon, so Kate even practiced her cat walk for us (I wish I had caught it on video for you). The doctors are hopeful that if physical therapy keeps going well, she won't have to have surgery again.
I can't fully express the joy on her face and in my heart while watching this little miracle.
But, I also know that if this sweet girl still couldn't walk this year, her smile and excited demeanor would have been the same.
While having a Bible study with the older kids at the home, the team asked, "What are ways Jesus shows you He loves you?" A 9-year-old boy raised his hand and confidently said, "Through trials." These kids, almost all HIV+ who have lost their parents or been abandoned, know what it means to go through trials. When I see Kate I see the "pure joy" talked about in James 1-
"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I see these kids live out these verses so clearly, and the depth of understanding they receive about the love of God in return.
I pray, as the Lord takes you and me through trials—both big and small—that He would give us eyes to see His love in the same way as these kids. I pray that our hearts would be softened to all He is doing when we can't possibly understand. And I pray that His constant faithfulness and miraculous healing would bring peace that keeps us dancing through it all.
*Her name has been changed for privacy and security reasons.