We had no idea that she was living. Her existence was a quiet fact. Relatives knew. Close neighbors knew. She was in that little room day in and day out, but it was only if one made a conscious effort to visit that she would ever have been noticed, ever have been seen.
Why? When she was born she seemed healthy but soon her bones began to turn. Susana stopped growing. She was now 18 years old and measured a little over two feet. Her mother carried her everywhere and then had to stop. She was too weary to carry her up and down the mountains. She and her husband never took Susana to a doctor. That would have cost money they simply did not have. Susana hardly ate. She became weaker, more crooked and stiff. She stayed in a small room with board walls. She slept on a board bed. Susana wore a traditional dress but it was like a rag on her now. She slept or would stare while a cold wind whistled through the cracks in the boards, day and night.
How grateful we were to find her! First Marina and Magdalena went. Then Ed and I went. We began a series of visits where we would share the Gospel and speak to Susana whose eyes would open wide with fear of strangers. Over time she would recognize us and began to listen and track us with obvious interest, lying quietly in her mother’s arms. Her hygiene was poor but her family was doing all they could. Sometimes she would smile feebly but genuinely. We brought needed food and consulted doctors for her skin and other needs.
Susana is an example of the forgotten child that is in every community. Behind closed doors, that child is existing and suffering days on end, years on end. What a blessing for us to “seek and find” these little ones who are close to the heart of God. It is an honor to help them practically. It brings a sense of family when we can hold them and laugh with them. They are encouraged to see we too care for their child who is forgotten by everyone else.
Psalm 142:5 says “Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul”.
Our hope is that no one will say those words once we have met them. It is in our very fiber, by the grace and mercy of Christ, to reach out to others the way God through others first reached out to us. We can not walk on by once a need is known.
Susana’s mother has a kind heart. She brings delicious blackberries in a big basket up the hill to sell to us. She comes and we always welcome her in a special way with hugs. We never lose a chance to pray and encourage her as the wife and mother of her tiny, frail young daughter. She is an incredibly hard worker. For that reason, even when there is no more need for blackberries we still buy them from her.
When Susana suddenly died last month it caught us all unawares. It was a great emotional and spiritual loss for all of us.
“Please do not stop visiting us,” her parents cried after burying her. “We want you to come to our home.” But of course we will! It is now that this family needs as much prayer and support as ever. This is the first family in the community of Cuatlamanca that has been open to us. Please pray we can seek and find those who are lost and forgotten and give them the Word of life. We thank the Lord for the way Susana affected us all and the privilege to serve her and love her and reach out to her family – even after her frail body was put to rest. We will miss you Susana! We won’t forget your family either.
We come with practical aid to the best of our ability. We thank those with medical skills that have given us counsel, answered our letters or visited with us to see those forgotten folk who are now our friends.
After the desperate words of the psalmist in Psalm 145 he goes on to say
I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
Our work is to extend our hands as if they were Christ’s hands. That may mean food, that may mean drink, that main mean visits to the doctor, that may be listening or counseling or even confronting by speaking the truth in love. Yet that inner healing can only come from realizing that there is a refuge, there is a Lord who is your portion even in a life of harshness and trials.
We saw Susana listen to us speak to her of the Lord’s love. We saw her parents’ focused with attention on something that was no longer beyond their grasp—- a hope in a personal God, in His salvation and help for their family. Many times after stepping out of that little room we would have some tea or coffee with the family and find all kinds of ways to relate with them. Still, it was, and is the Word of Life, that meets the deepest needs and that the Lord uses to place “the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6)
Please pray we can continue to be an extension of God’s redemptive love as we do not forget those who are alone, forgotten, abandoned.
God bless you,
Ed and Denise