One Question that Changed Her World

February 8, 2016

I saw Zuly bend down and quietly whisper in the little girl’s ear. “You are so smart,” she said. The little girl looked up to her and smiled shyly. 

At the age of 3 months, Zuly began living in an orphanage. It was all she had ever known. Caregivers had come and gone; friends had, too. Nothing in her life had ever been stable. Some children were adopted, others were sent to different homes. Some were reunified with their biological families. Zuly knew nothing about her past. Sometimes she would allow herself to dream. She would dream that one day her birthmother would walk back through the doors of the orphanage and come for her–that she would pick her up, spin her around, hug her tightly, and tell her that she had missed her every single day of her life. Most days though she just simply existed. She tried not to get in the way. She tried to be a good girl. She tried not to make mistakes. But she always seemed to fail.

The older she grew, the more the pain of being abandoned grew too. She wanted to belong, wanted to matter, wanted to know her life had a purpose. 
At the age of 15 Zuly was told she was being transferred to another children’s home by the name of Village of Hope Guatemala. She sat quietly and cried, although no one seemed to notice or care. She would once again lose everything she had ever known. She felt discarded. She quietly said good-bye to her friends. She packed her few belongings in a plastic bag and waited for their arrival. 
The van pulled up and a couple stepped out. They smiled. She didn’t smile back. She had nothing left inside of her. She couldn’t even fake it anymore. She slid into the back seat, her plastic bag resting on her lap. She said not a word as the tears silently slipped down her cheeks. The vehicle bounced back and forth as they drove down the bumpy dirt road into the unknown. 
A short time later they stopped at a restaurant and the man asked her if she liked chicken. Her stomach growled and she quietly said yes. “Would you like two pieces or one?” he asked–something she would never forget. While most of us take choice for granted, it is not something she had ever experienced. She had always been told, “Here is your meal, here is your bed, here is your clothing.” She had never been allowed to have a voice of her own. Maybe, just maybe, she dared to hope, everything is going to be okay.
It has been almost 3 years since Zuly arrived at Village of Hope Guatemala. She has received therapy several times a week and continues to heal, grow, and discover who she is in Christ. Her gifts are many, and it is a blessing for us to watch her spread her wings and find joy in life. At the age of 18 she is doing her studies as well as serving in the preschool at Village of Hope to help other children like her herself. 

“O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; You will strengthen their heart; You will incline Your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed …” 
– Psalm 10:17-18

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