There once was a little boy who had diabetes in a poverty stricken nation, where health care is usually inadequate, where electricity is mostly non-existent, where little children don't live with their parents for a whole variety of reasons.
Fernando was already living in our center, Iris Ministries in Zimpeto, Mozambique, when I came to visit in 2000, ten years ago. He was a wee little thing, I SO wish I had his photo on this computer so I could show you. When I moved here in 2003, I used a photo of he and I front and center on the information sheet I sent out to friends and family as I was preparing to leave.
One of my cherished little miracles I've seen in my life involved Fernando. As a diabetic, it was important that he kept his feet protected by wearing shoes. You know how little boys are, cuts and scrapes and stubbed toes are the norm when you are constantly barefoot in a center made of sand. It was hard to keep little cuts clean and he'd end up with dangerous infections.
So I was given the job of finding a pair of shoes to fit this boy in the donations. The trouble was, the donations consisted of two shipping containers of things that had been sorted through, moved around, packed and unpacked many times! This was during the horrible floods of 2000 here in Mozambique so Iris had received a lot of donations in response to the tremendous need.
In all the chaos of the donations, I was so delighted when I happened upon a shoe that was the perfect fit for Fernando in a black bag of adult shoes. The trouble was, there was no matching partner! I must have searched for hours! I returned multiple times, and was so frustrated not to just find a different pair of shoes even that would fit him.
But the next day, when we were in the second container, looking for bowls to take to a refugee camp, I found the matching shoe!!!!! I was so amazed. And I remember sitting in that container marveling about the sweetness of God, caring for something so simple as a shoe for a child. And also being struck but just how different my life was than this little boys would ever be.
Fernando was still here when I returned in 2003, still battling diabetes and by this time, battling other demons as well. He has since lived in a succession of centers, each time not being able to live under the authority and care of loving adults who want to help him.
Most recently, he was living with his aged grandmother, very close to another Iris center which stored his insulin in their refrigerator for him. He simply had to walk less than five minutes to the center to get his insulin.
But there must have been complications because I just found out last night that Fernando died last September. I am so sad. And shocked. He would have been about 18 years old (although when I visited in 2000 he looked about 4 or 5 he was in fact about 8).
I just keep thinking - you can't always help everyone, no matter how much you want to. They have to be able to want to help themselves as well. I have cried over Fernando personally as well as the numerous other people we try and reach out to but can't quite seem to help make a change in their lives.
Lord, please help me always have a teachable spirit!