(Read the rest of my posts about my life changing trip to Peru here)
After tiresome hours of exhausting labor, I vividly remember my first moments with our eldest son. I close my eyes and am instantly transported to his every quirk; hearty squalls giving birth to his voice, eyes prying open for their first time, teeny tiny hands clenching into fists, but what I remember most are his feet.
Oh, I just love precious baby feet. Grabbing, kissing, and yes, smelling these teeny appendages is like therapy to me. Am I the only odd one who wants to bottle and sell the newborn baby feet smell?
Each and every detail intricately etched by the Master’s hand comes to fruition in this perfect portrait of two precious feet.
As a new mom there are so many decisions that consume us. What’s the best way to feed them? Should I put them on a schedule or feed on demand? Cloth or Disposable? Let them cry or rock them to sleep? Turquoise or neutral for the nursery?
Anxieties escalate as we attempt to wrap our brain around all that it entails to care for this new bundle, and even our 100th read through of “What to Expect When We’re Expecting” doesn’t settle us.
It’s a fact. We will never know what to expect. If we did, some may never choose the blessing.
Yet as I leaf through this best selling baby care guide, there’s a chapter missing; one which none of us ever knew was needed.
“What to expect when I can’t provide the most basic needs for my child.”
Why hasn’t anyone marketed that? Why isn’t that slogan plastered on the Must Read list?
Precious mother, Lily, puts a face to that question, and Compassion’s Child Survival Program, a system set up to equip,educate, and meet needs of mothers with newborns up to age three, answers the question.
As we entered the humble home, Lily’s sweet spirit welcomed us. People scattered trying to find seating so we could pull up a chair to hear her story.
Her story, a story which made my momma heart roar.
Her story, a story that unfolds amidst injustice, desperation, depression and survival.
Her story, a story now written because Compassion International and the local church desires to come along side her, educate her, and free her family from the bondage of poverty.
And then we experienced the latest chapter in her story.
Her daughter’s precious baby feet.
Last month, her daughter, left in the care of a relative, toddled into a pot of boiling water and received third degree burns. Immediately, she knew her daughter needed medical care, but she had no money for medicine, let alone a doctor. She shared that she did what she could, which was to wrap the burns in some dirty rags.
Infection set into the leg.
Through her tears and the English/Spanish translation, the heavy burden she carries permeated our presence.
From the Compassion workers, I found out that burns are a common occurrence. Without assistance from Compassion, many mothers leave children unsupervised as young as three years old. They learn to cook over a fire or use a dilapidated oven at an early age. Mothers have no choice because if they don’t find some work, there will be no food, and without food, their children don’t survive, so the vicious cycle continues. Compassion knows that the greatest attack on childhood mortality within developing countries hits before the age of five.
FIVE YEARS OLD! That’s something they don’t address in “What’s to Expect,” and this momma heart can’t quite put into words the emotional processing of what I saw today or what theses mothers and children live with day to day.
But I know one easy thing.
We can write the next chapter. We have the privilege of punctuating sentences by changing one sweet child’s family tree.
Fortunately for Lily, Compassion, partnering with the local church in her area, stepped in and wrapped their arms around Lily. They were the hands and feet of Jesus as they provided transportation, food, and paid for all medical bills associated with her accident.
My heart ached as I saw her precious foot, but my perspective changed over the course of the day.
Those scars symbolize so much more in her story.
Those scars mark survival and glimmers of hope in an otherwise hopeless life story.
Those scars demonstrate that God intervened when Lily had no where to turn.
Those scars serve as a reminder that there was One much greater who bears our scars so that we might have life; LIFE more abundantly.
Oh sweet friends, the stories our scars can share.
Join my family as we help write another chapter in a Peruvian child’s life story.
Sponsor a child today through Compassion.
For more perspectives on our time in Peru, visit Shaun Groves, Angie Smith and Kevin and Layla Palmer.
Here are just a few pictures from Day 1 in Peru. Throughout the day, follow along as I am posting live updates and pictures on both my Facebook Page, as well as instagram. (@jenschmidt_beautyandbedlam.)
I was so moved by this line: “Those scars serve as a reminder that there was One much greater who bears our scars so that we might have life; LIFE more abundantly.”
What a powerful thought from an overwhelming story. Thank you so much for speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
What a gripping story! I cannot imagine not being able to give my children even the most basic of needs. I will be following along in your journey and praying for you. The photos of this precious little one’s feet just grip my heart.
Oh Jen! Gripping, and marvelous and oh so moving! And those feet?? I too, as a mom of 5, and a labor and delivery RN…oh I can relate to loving those little feet! Please know how I’m praying for all of you as you walk and move through Peru, and that through your pictures and words many would be moved to sponsorship…to giving…the greatest blessing of all! Thank you so much for your wonderful post!
Jen, thank you for your words. I forget what a gift it is just to get to be HOME with my boys, especially when they were tiny. I love that you got to find out more about the Child Survival Program and share that part of Compassion.
What a story of hope, Jen! So happy you are there sharing stories like this one. Beautifully written. Praying for your group!!
Thank you for using your words to bring light to the scars and teach us all what beauty is. I am praying for all of you this week.
Thank you so much for going and for sharing the stories with us. Prayers for you and the others as you travel and for all the children and people who love them too.
I’m wiping tears…I too have seen places like that where the children grow up way too fast and have so little. It really puts a new perspective on things I consider problems and hardships in my life! Thanks for sharing! I am following your blog posts and praying for you daily! I also want to sponsor a child in Peru! I hope God will use what your doing to get many sponsors for these precious children!
thank you Jen for sharing this glimpse of LIFE more abundantly! you breathe LIFE with your smile & your words & your hugs! praying for you & the rest of the team this week.
Beautiful Jen … words that make a mama’s heart ache … yet ever grateful for the gift of His scars … thanks so much for sharing this trip with us.
Beautiful post Jen! You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers this week!
Moving post! We are praying for you as you embark on this journey, which I am confident will change your life and the lives of many children forever! Thank you for sharing this glimpse into the life of another family.
Thanks for sharing with us and putting things in perspective for us. We are really so blessed. Xo!
Thank you Jen for sharing your thoughts and your trip. Praying that the rest of your trip goes well!
Thank you for this beautiful post. And thank you for going and sharing your experiences with us.
We have two kids in Peru – one in the Lima area . I got to meet them 2 years ago and your photos are bringing so many memories back!
Oh my, Jen. I’ll be sharing your post with my wee-watts after school today. Thank you for sharing Lily’s story *and* your own glorious heart. I love you!
I sponsor a little sweet girl from Peru. This touches my heart to see yall down there and makes me so glad that God laid on my heart to sponsor there. It breaks my heart as I saw those sweet tiny feet. thank you for sharing so I can see more about where my little sweet girl is.
OH, Jen! I’m with you on the baby feet–and seeing those sweet scarred feet is just too much!
So thankful for Compassion and how they love and serve their communities. Thank you for sharing this story. Praying for you all!
Jen, Even in Peru you are balancing beauty and bedlam. Your photos and words are thoughtful and encouraging. Thank you for serving this week with Compassion and for taking us along with you. Praying for you, the team and all those you will experience God with this week.
Oh Jen, thank you for introducing us to Lily. When we know the faces and the stories we cannot turn away and act like we don’t know.
I am changed because of your words today, thank you.
Jen, Beautiful…Thank you for using your words to tell the story of Compassion! Child Survival Projects are one of my favorite days and I felt like I was there with you. Praying for you!
Jen, so beautifully written…you are giving such a voice to those we would otherwise never hear from. Thank you, thank you. The children and I are in disbelief at the photos. Prayers for you and this MOST important work!
Breaks my heart and gives me hope at the same time! So thankful for all that God can do through the work of Compassion for these families.