I offered to take him to the hospital, but the mother refused. She said that the hospital had refused to help him because of "his condition." How could anyone refuse to help the poor and weak especially a child? I was furious. I thought of just grabbing him and running back to the U.S. with him where I knew doctors who would help him, but I knew that wasn't an option.
I didn't stay long. I couldn't. I was so sick. I felt so helpless. As a mother, I couldn't bear to watch this child whimper. Nor could I watch the mother's blank stare and lack of emotion. So, we prayed over him, gave them the milk and diapers we had brought, and left feeling heartbroken, helpless, and angry. I was angry at myself for not coming sooner, angry at the mother, angry at my friend, angry at the neighbors, angry at the hospital and doctors, angry at the Philippine government for not taking care of the poor, and angry at God for allowing this child to suffer like this for nine years.
I laid awake in bed several nights tossing and turning with the image of Reymart in my mind. I had many "conversations" with God about Reymark. I was so angry that this child had suffered so much. This couldn't possibly be God's plan for this child. I questioned why He had brought me to Reymark. What was it that I was suppose to do? I asked why He would send that kind of child to the poor who couldn't afford to properly care for him. Why give us a healthy baby boy and not this poor woman? I begged him to miraculously heal this boy. At times, I even joined the family's prayer for God to just take him.
Unable to get Reymark off my mind and heart, I visited again bringing more milk and diapers for Reymart. The mother told me that he drank a lot of the milk we had given them the first day, but that he had begun to throw it up. She then asked for a "cream" for the bed sores that he had on his bottom. After seeing the huge hole on his bottom when they removed the diaper, I knew that I had to figure out how to get this baby to the hospital. I called in Rebecca, another missionary and our team leader who had been living on Camiguin for the past two years. She knew a lot more Visyan than I and had more knowledge of the kind of medical care available on this island.
She was able to get a little more information about Reymart's past condition. Reymark had developed tetanus from the instrument used to cut the cord after his home birth. He had spent some time in the hospital as an infant. He had a sponsor to help pay for his needs, but they had quit receiving help several years ago. Reymark could never suck or chew food. He only "drank" the milk they poured down his throat. After the sponsorship ended, the family could not afford the milk and other supplements he needed. They had also received help from the social services office in our small town, but they had also stopped helping a few years ago. Basically, the parents of 6, had to decide between buying rice and feeding the rest of the kids or buying milk to feed Reymark.
How does this happen in our world today? How could people...? How could God...? But before I could finish my angry thoughts, I recalled how much food my family had consumed just that morning at breakfast. It sickened me to think of all the Reymarts in the world literally starving to death while we had our fill not once but several times a day. Yes, we had seen the commercials with the photos of starving kids and had listened to the stories of people coming to our church looking for sponsors for children like this.
Before missions, we had donated to many of those feeding programs and still sponsor two of the children. We thought that we had done "our share". As missionaries, we discovered that "our share" was simply a tiny drop in the ocean. We have handed out thousands of pounds of rice to the "hungry" in our two years of missions. We have fed numerous "hungry" kids at our table. We pray for the "hungry" before most meals. Again, we thought we had done "our share." But that week during our family Desert Day (a time of personal prayer with the scripture), God showed me that "our share" was not enough.
He first led me to 1 Corinthians chapter 11. At first it seemed to be the same old stuff he repeatedly sends me to in scripture, "be imitators of me", "maintain the traditions", "the head of a woman is the husband", "women should veil themselves", etc. These are many of the tough things that He continuously calls me out on. I almost closed my bible with an eye roll, but then I got to verse 23 and the breath was knocked right out of me. "For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry..." I cried the rest of my desert day time and most of the day as I thought about Reymart a few miles away literally starving to death while I sit down to my own meal.
All that we have done has always been from our abundance. Even in missions, we have always had enough for ourselves. We have rarely missed a meal even if it was only rice or bread. We may have been "uncomfortable" at times, but it has never hurt. Reymark's story hurt...it hurt deep down in the pit of my soul. I knew that I was sent to Reymark not only to save his life, but to save my soul from my own selfishness and greed. That night I cried myself to sleep again thinking of Reymart, but this time my tears were for myself, my family, my friends, and all those back home in America who thought they were "doing their share."
The next day we spoke to a social worker who knew Reymark and some of his histroy. We found out that Reymark had Cerebral Palsy and that he had a sponsor that helped with his needs years ago. We learned that the sponsorship was taken from him and given to another child who was in need because Reymark "didn't make progress" because the mother wasn't doing what she was told to do at home. We found out that as Reymark's condition worsened over the years the assistance from the government social services office also stopped including giving them milk for Reymark. They quit helping him because his parents were "not doing their part" to help provide for his needs. This was almost too much for my heart to hear.
Reymart at the ER
When we arrived at the hospital ER, it was discovered that not only was Reymark literally starving to death, but that he had very severe pneumonia. He was too weak to cough, so know one had known that he was sick. The nurses immediately began an I.V. and started a breathing treatment. The doctor told us that Reymark would not have lived much longer and that even with the medical care they would give him, it would be a miracle if he survived. But we knew Reymark was already a miracle in the making!
The doctors and nurses began yelling at the mother for letting this child get to the brink of death before bringing him in. I knew exactly how they felt, I had been just as angry as they were last week before I knew the whole story. This was exactly why she had refused to bring him in all the times I mentioned it. She had been yelled at many times in the past nine years for not properly taking care of Reymark, but no one had taken the time to find out why. She was so upset that she refused to stay with him after he was admitted. Our friend Lilay offered to stay with him in the hospital. (That's a whole other blog! Read it!)
Genevieve proudly displaying her "O."
He was also in need of type O blood which happens to be an uncommon type for Filipinos; therefore; there was not any type O in the hospital blood bank. We began searching all over the town for someone with type O; literally asking people on the streets if they were type O. We began to panic, but God had already planned this out way before we found Reymark. One of the single missionaries sent to Camiguin last year was type O! The next day we drove Genevieve to the hospital where she happily donated blood to Reymark.
Once he received the blood, he began to get some color back into his little face. After a few days of I.V. antibiotics and breathing treatments, Reymark was ready to for the surgical team to clean out his bed sores. The surgical team was awesome. They took their time to teach Lilay how to care for the sores until they were healed and how to make sure Reymark didn't get any more.
Reymart after receiving Genevieve's "O"
As Reymark's discharge got closer, we worried about putting Reymark back in his home where he may not be cared for properly. We prayed and prayed for God to help us know what to do once he was discharged. We were really hoping that Lilay would continue to be his caretaker, but wasn't sure how that would work since she and her family of eight were homeless and living with her grandma. But God had already moved in everyone's heart before we had to bring up the subject.
Reymark's AWESOME physical
Reymark was discharged and is now living with our friend Lilay at her grandmother's house. His mother and his father come over to help with his care often. He's eating drinking some very delicious smoothies and shakes that Lilay prepares for him with his new blender. She is now able to make a large batch for others to feed him while she is at work or at school because he now has his own refrigerator! He's attending physical therapy daily on the other side of the island thanks to another donor. We were also able to buy him a baby bed and get him out of the rice sack hammock that he had lived in for nine years. He is starting to move his head and limbs a little on his own now, and the bed allows him room to stretch out.
Reymark at home in his stroller ready
Lilay, her two youngest kids,
Reymart on our second visit September 12 compared to our visit yesterday on October 7.
But the most important thing that has changed is hearts and most importantly---MINE!
They say that he is blind, but I'm pretty
If you feel called to help with Reymark's care, you can click the "Donate" link at the top of our blog page. The PediaSure formula, the nutritional supplements, and the food Reymark needs daily along with the transportation to physical therapy on the other side of the island each day is very costly. We would also like to one day be able to bring Reymark to the mainland to see a few specialists including an occupational therapist and an eye doctor.