Mercy is one of the children who’s change has been the most dramatic. She came to us from a rural area four or five hours away. Perhaps a bit of explanation on rural Kenya is necessary. Life in small town Texas is pretty much like life in the city, only smaller. I mean we still had access to running water, indoor plumbing, supermarkets, electricity, and high speed internet. Yet rural Kenya is like going backwards in time. Very often no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no internet, and many places don’t even have access to phone service. Mercy came from there to the teeming metropolis of Nakuru, or at least it must have seemed like the biggest city in the world to her.
Mercy had been abandoned. Her parents died. In fact her village no longer exists, H.I.V. has wiped it off the map. Everyone died or fled the scene, leaving behind Mercy to fend for herself.
She was taken in by an older woman, who was not a relative. This woman, I can’t remember her name at the moment, was not interested in Mercy but instead wanted to lay claim to the family farm. When this didn’t work out, Mercy was again abandoned. I’m not sure how long she lived like that, but it was long enough to cause some serious emotional damage, and to retard her social development.
She ended up in a nearby village and we heard about her while visiting. I was reluctant to take her in our home, not because I didn’t like her, but because of the huge transition it would be for her. In the end I was convinced and we convinced the Chief of the village to give us custody of Mercy.
She was a hard nut to crack in the beginning. Everything terrified her, from the flushing toilet to the white baby (Emma at the time.) She was prone to strange fits of giggling. I would walk around a corner see her and suddenly she would giggle and run and hide. Weird, but something we could cope with at any rate.
After some time she warmed up to the other children, and eventually even spoke to me. For at least the first year she may have not even said one word to me. Now more often than not she is the spokesperson for the kids when they want to ask me something or for something.
Mercy demonstrated to me the truth of the saying “diamond in the rough.” She is a beautiful gem, with a few rough edges.
Edges that are smoothable with love, attention, and lots of family. Mercy will have a chance in this life. A chance to grow up. A chance to make a difference in her world. A chance to have a family of her own.
Not to sound overly spiritual or mushy, but this is all thanks to Jesus. If He had not shown me how to live out my faith instead of just believing it, well we would not be here with Mercy. Thank you Jesus, I appreciate that about You more than anything else.
This is part of my Meet the Family Series.