overwhelming gratitude

how do i begin to tell this part of the story—this chapter where everything changes? there have been so many miracles.  so many reminders of the One i can trust.  so many blessings.  this journey has brought me deep sorrow but also deep joy.  it has changed me from the inside out.  it has been exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying, painful, humbling and fulfilling.  it has brought me new life.

back in january, when a friend of mine told me about this little girl with special needs who was begging on the streets, i casually agreed to “see what i could do to help out.”  i thought that this would be something i could do practically to help one child get off the streets.  so on february 16th i went and picked up Mikisa.  i decided she could live with me until i figured out a more permanent solution for her.

Mikisa’s story was full of tragedy and pain.  she was born on the streets and suffered a stroke when she was a baby, causing partial paralysis on her entire left side.  she was abandoned when she was two years old…because her mother thought she was cursed.  she spent the next three years begging on the streets and sleeping on a cold concrete floor of a kind stranger.  she was alone.  abandoned.  unwanted.  she retreated into her own little world of scarce coins, meager food and solitude.  she rocked back and forth, sucking her thumb and humming softly to ease the discomfort of sitting for hours on the hard dirt road in front of the woman’s matoke stand.  she couldn’t speak but her eyes said it all…they were begging eyes.  her heart pleaded with each stranger that passed her by.  not only for a few coins that would buy her a samosa or chappati.  but also for a greeting, a handshake, or just some indication that she was visible to them.  she was starved for love.  she barely survived those years.

when i scooped her off the dirt and took her to live with me, she weighed only 20 pounds and fit in 9-month-old Ellie’s clothes.  she reeked of urine and dirt crusted her skin. she was severely malnourished, dehydrated, and had malaria. her scrawny body shook with fear as i held her.  fever wracked her body, and she refused to eat or drink.  she had a seizure and i was terrified that she might not live through those first few days.  it was heartbreaking to see this little girl suffering so much.  to think that no one in the world cared about her pain.  as i nurtured her and cared for her, my love for her grew quickly.  i wanted desperately for her to live.  i wanted her to have a family.  i felt God speaking to me very clearly, telling me i needed to do more than just help out.  i felt Him telling me i need to show love in a real and lasting way.   He wanted me to be Mikisa’s mom.  at first I didn’t think adoption was a practical option for me.  i resisted God’s call because it didn’t fit in with the plans i had for my life.   but love is a powerful thing.  and i honestly couldn’t imagine the rest of my life without this little girl in it.  so in early March I made the decision to pursue legal guardianship of Mikisa.

being Mikisa’s mom has changed my heart and my life in ways that I never would have imagined possible.  it’s been really challenging, but also incredibly beautiful.  God has shown me again and again that He is in this and He is good.  this is His story.  i am so blessed to have this unique and specific calling to be a mom to a little girl who has never had one.   motherhood is teaching me a lot about God and His heart , and i am learning to love unconditionally as He loves us.  i am also learning that I can do nothing without Him.  i have felt more desperate for Him than ever before.  i am becoming more reliant on Him.  i am so thankful to be a small part of God’s redemptive work in the life of one of His children.

since february when Mikisa first came to live with me, she has grown and changed significantly.  she is learning to love and be loved.  she’s very active and likes being social.  she’s started talking, and her vocabulary is increasing every day. she has gained ten pounds and is much healthier.  she is learning to walk using a walker and can move the arm that doctors said was paralyzed.  she experiences the world through music, and is always singing.  she also loves to dance, and has the most adorable little personality.

despite the many obstacles that have come up during this adoption process and the intense anxiety it has brought, the last few months have been full of blessings and miracles. one of those blessings was that God brought a wonderful man into my life and we have been dating since may.  we are both committed to keeping God in the center of our relationship, and it has been a beautiful time of growing closer together.  this is just another example of God’s incredible timing and his perfect plan.  Troy just visited us here in Uganda for a week, and it was absolutely amazing!  he and Mikisa bonded so well. the best part about it is that he was here for our celebration day last week!

on july 21st we went back to the courthouse for the ruling. the judge said yes! i now [legally] have a daughter.  words can’t express my overwhelming gratitude.  i am so thankful for all the prayers and encouragement.  i am so humbled by this great love from the One who holds it all together in His hands.  friends, i am delighted to introduce Mikisa Mae Swinger!  Mikisa means blessings and Mae comes from a Polynesian word meaning welcome.

welcome to the family Meems!   i love you so much!!!!

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9 responses to “overwhelming gratitude

  1. HOORAY! So so SO happy that it’s all said and done! I can’t really imagine what the last few months would have been like without Mikisa in them. She brings SO much joy and I’ll miss you both TONS. Don’t let her forget Deedee…(aka hot mama). I love you, too, Christina, and I meant every word of my blog post about you guys. We’ll miss you, but I’m so glad you finally get to be home.

  2. I can’t even tell you how excited we are for you!!! The trials of adoption are many, but the blessings so outweigh the trials. Cannot wait to meet Mikisa. Nesro has been so interested in her and your story. Praying for a safe return home!

    Holly

  3. Congratulations, Christina! I am overjoyed to hear this great news. May God bless your return home!

  4. Hello, Very nice blog. I am working on a design for a tshirt for a church youth group who participated in the 30 hour famine. I was very taken my the first photo, above, of the child’s back. I would very much like to use that photo as a small part of the design, but of course, am asking permission to do so. Thank you.

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