Updated: Oct 26, 2022
On a sweaty and sweltering Tuesday afternoon, Stephanie and I took several kids down to House 50.
Although the walk was not extremely long or difficult, the weight of the kids clinging and climbing all over me quickly wore me out. By the end of the trip, my legs hurt and, honestly, I was a little bothered that House 50 was so far away from our Team House. But when we arrived at the coral house with the crooked numbers “50” placed proudly over the door, I immediately wanted to take back my grumbling and complaining. Out of House 50 came Fedelene Vaval in a wheelchair, accompanied by a few friends.
As introduced in an earlier blog post, Fedelene had severe birth defects in her hands, feet, legs, and knees, and malnutrition as an infant. She’s been handicapped since birth. A few weeks ago, after several years of prayer and conversation with doctors, Fedelene had the first in a series of surgeries to fix her legs. According to Dr. John, after all of the operations, “Fedelene will be able to stand and, by the grace of God, walk with a cane.” After the first surgery in May, the doctor put a thick cast on each of her legs.
We sat on the porch of House 50 with Fedelene, reading her Bible stories and asking her questions. She used to live with both of her grandparents, but a few months ago, her grandfather passed away. Now, Fedelene spends most of her days alone while her step-grandmother works in Port-au-Prince.
As the sun beat down on us, Fedelene told us with an embarrassed smile that her legs really itched and that her feet were in a lot of pain. The post-surgery physical therapy is just as painful as the actual surgery. At every appointment, physical therapists shift her casts slightly outward, in an attempt to correct muscle atrophy, club feet and posture problems.
Her days since the surgery have been long and lazy. As Fedelene and her visitors read the story of Moses together, I was reminded of God’s desire to use the weak. Although Fedelene cannot walk and has to be carried up and down the steep hill to get practically anywhere, God put a contagious and courageous smile on her face that can cheer up anyone. She radiates joy and hope that can only be supplied by the Holy Spirit.
God has blessed Fedelene with an unbreakable spirit and a stubbornly positive attitude. Although her legs don’t work right now, “the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Fedelene’s humble and joyful heart attitude is an example for us all.