This is not the post I have been planning to write. Not even close. God it seems has different plans in the works, things he has been working on for many years.
This past week we had the pleasure of staying with friends in the Tyler, Texas area, we were blessed to be able to get a chance to catch up with them, and at the same time get to meet new friends at an event where we shared about Bring Love In. This was the second to the last event on our tour around America and we have mixed feelings about things coming to an end. It has been both productive and exhausting at the same time. We are looking forward to getting back home to Ethiopia and finally get a chance to meet all the kids who are in the new families.
While we were in town Dr Bentley, who we were visiting, offered to do a medical checkup on us and our kids, and also get everyone caught up on immunizations. Considering how rarely we have been able get our family into the doctor we were thankful for the opportunity. 20 needles later we were on our way… Kind of.
After the examinations were done, and the crying had stopped (mostly), Dr Bentley explained to Jessie and I that he heard a pronounced heart murmur while checking Everly our three year old daughter.
Ok… “What does that mean?” We asked, caught off completely guard by the news about our seemingly healthy three year old daughter.
“Well” He said while scooting his chair next to where Jessie and I were sitting in the examination room.
“It means that we need to take a closer look at her heart and see what is causing the noise. It could be something serious, or it could be nothing to worry about, but without an echo cardiogram we will not know anything more than that something is not right”
“The problem is there is at least a one month wait for these kind of tests, and so we are likely not going to be able to get anywhere on this today.”
At this point we kind of just stared at him. Unsure what to think, and still to stunned to know how we were feeling. You see Everly has been our miracle child from day one, she bas born in the south of Ethiopia in a tribe that believes that some children are born cursed for one reason or another.
Everly was was deemed to be cursed before she was even born.
A few moments after she was born, her birth father placed her outside the grass hut, and put dirt in her mouth to kill the child who they believed would bring bad luck to the village if she was allowed to live.
Moments later a man came to rescue her and brought to the orphanage that we were helping to run in the area. She was given the name Edalawit, which in Amharic means “She is Lucky” just seven weeks later she came to live with us.
Our journey to adopt the little girl who we would later call Everly was a bumpy one, with many heart wrenching struggles that brought us closer to God, and made us hold tighter to our beautiful little girl who God had saved from death.
Today though, as we sat in the waiting room and listened to Dr Bentley making phone calls to see how long the wait was for the tests she needed, I once again held tight onto little Everly.
“Please God” I whispered into her ear as she sat on my lap, still crying from the seven needles that had poked her body in the last twenty minutes.
“Well, It appears that God is at work today” Dr Bentley announced as he came through the door. “I was able to get us an appointment in just a few minutes at a hospital down the road, and they are going to drop the cost by 85% because I explained to them about the work you all are doing in Ethiopia”
In a few moments, before any of us had time to think, Jessie and Dr Bentley sped off in his car towards the hospital with Everly, while I and the other three kids walked to the car, I tried to answer questions about what was happening while we drove, but the truth was I did not know anything.
Something might be wrong, or it might not. Either way God was opening doors today and it was a miracle. There was no way we would have been able to afford the cost of the test, let alone the other expenses that Dr Bentley was covering for us that day.
I felt thankful, scared and completely unworthy of all that was being given to help our family all at the same time.
“Just pray with me that things go well” I told them as we drove towards the hotel.
The next day, after a restless night, Dr Bentley came to our hotel and asked if he could speak with Jessie and I in private. We quickly got the kids busy with a TV show and sat down to hear the news.
“First off I need to tell you that another miracle has happened.” He said, with a sincerity in his voice that demanded attention. “Normal wait time to get results from this kind of test is around two weeks, but the test just happened to land on the desk of a doctor who I knew ten years ago, and he moved us ahead of the line and called me today to let me know what is going on with Everly.”
I tried to smile at this news, thankful that we were going to hear back so quickly, but also concerned by the seriousness of the topic. I may not be a medical professional but I know that heart problems are no small matter. Your heart is either healthy or not, and this was all sounding more like a tragedy than a miracle to me.
“The bad news is there is an issue” He said as he leaned in even closer to where Jessie and I were sitting. “Everly has what is called Mitral Stenosis, meaning that the main valve in her heart is not opening as far as it should.”
“Ok” I said as I glanced over to see a pained look come across Jessie’s face.
“If Everly’s condition were left unnoticed she would not live past her early twenties” He continued, and the words hung in the air around us like the eye of a violent storm. Both eerily quiet, and deadly at the same time. “The good news is we know about it, and we will keep an eye on it, and can get the surgery done when the time is right”
“You mean like open heart surgery?” Jessie asked.
“Yes, Everly will need open heart surgery to fix the valve in her heart, it will likely be many years before this needs to happen, and you are perfectly safe going back to live in Ethiopia with her, at this point all she needs is another Echo Cardiogram every year to track where things are at”
It seems like an eternity has passed since we put the show on for the kids fifteen minutes ago, but they are all still sitting on the bed peaceful. Jessie kneels down on the floor and slides Everly over close to her, she smiles a half smile at the both of us and leans her head to the side slightly. She is only three years old but Everly has an uncanny sense of when things are not right. She once cried for a half an hour at the end of Finding Nemo because Nemo was going off to school and was not going to get to be with his father any more.
“You are going to be okay sweetheart” Jessie whispers into her ear and Everly lays her tiny head on Jessie’s shoulder, wrapping her arms around as far as she can reach them.
My mind flashes back to the sunny day in Southern Ethiopia when we brought Everly home for the first time. She was so small, and yet already had such a big story to tell. God had taken care of her, watched over her, rescued her, and today another part of her story was coming clear. Yes I still have no idea how we are going to pay for the surgery when the time comes, but I know that we will move mountains if we have to. Dr Bentley’s words keep repeating in my head. “If Everly’s condition were left unnoticed she would not live past her early twenties” But now, we know about this, and we can do something about it, but if she had been left in the orphanage where she was, if we had not adopted her, she would never have a chance of getting the surgery.
I don’t think I need to explain to you the emotions I am feeling right now. They are so clear, God is here, moving, and watching over little Everly.
Today I am thankful for Everly, and for the amazing future that God has planned for her, thankful that we get to be a part of her story, and thankful that God can already see down the roads that he takes us on.