*I have “Cami’s” permission to share this piece of her & K’s story.
“Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Kaiya was just a little Bun In The Oven when I met her, eight months old on the inside. I remember sitting next to her Momma at the dinner table, belly swollen big. Camila was fifteen, only fifteen, and I remember judging her for that. Not in a harsh way, if that’s even possible with judgment, but I judged her just the same… wondering who the boyfriend had been who’d helped her belly swell big.
The first time I saw Little Ladybug outside her Momma’s belly she was six months old, a chubby lil’ thang. I was only visiting for several days but most of my pictures from that visit are of her. Living in a house of thirty other girls, she was everybody’s Little Darling.
Kaiya was eight months old the next time I went back to Casa Hogar, but I was there to stay a little while that time. She was standing up by then, and swishing her squishy little body back and forth with any music we’d play. Dancing. = ) I watched her take her first steps, cheering her on, thrilled, before she plopped back down on her diapered bum. She was laughing then, bright bubbly laughter.
During those six weeks one of my jobs was to translate the children’s files into English. That was how I learned many of their stories, and here is something I wrote about that experience, of reading those stories, on October 20th 2010:
“What kind of world have we become that when a woman’s husband is molesting her daughters, she takes them to live in an orphanage instead of calling the police? Where a two year old is witness as their Grandmother kills their baby sister. Where a man kidnaps his wife and murders her, and their sons are taken to an orphanage as their story is told on the news. Where a father ties his little girl to a chair and forces her to watch as he molests her sister. I’m getting SICK of learning these things about every child living here.”
None of the kids were there because they were orphaned, I was learning. Most of them were there because of abuse, or neglect, or abandonment.
Reading those files is where I learned Camila’s story as well. She shared it with me later, in her own words, once we’d become close, but it was just as devastating to hear the second time. I read Babygirl’s file first:
“Kaiya was conceived as a result of rape, by Camila’s stepfather.”
What?? No. No no no no no. No.
There had never been a boyfriend help make her belly swell big. There was only a stepfather, who raped her over and over again for years. There was another baby before Kaiya, but Camila’s little body miscarried.
Cami is so strong, she is so resilient, and she is so beautiful.
Sometimes the obvious is worth stating.
Kaiya was a year and a few months old the next time I found myself Mexico Home, and although she was not my responsibility I often took care of her anyway while her Momma was at school. For five months long Little Ladybug soaked up my love, although she was plenty plenty loved by her Momma. A year later I was back for several weeks to visit, and a year after that I was back for another month. Watching Kaiya grow from that Baby Bump to a walking, talking, sassing little girl has been one of the great privileges of my life.
The last time I was Mexico Home Kaiya wasn’t there. She & Cami had moved out of the orphanage, and although I doubted Kaiya would even remember me I was still missing her. She was four years old then, and had only spent what? eight months of her life with me nearby. But one weekend she came to visit, I saw her from far away and stopped statue still in my tracks. I gasped deep, taking her in, and then she saw me. It had been an entire year, but she saw me and she came RUNNING. She flew into my arms and I remember spinning around, holding her tight, wanting to cry but not wanting her to mistake joyful tears for sad ones. Kaiya spent the entire weekend following me around, declaring things like: “I’m going to sleep with you in your bed, because you love me a lot.” I don’t remember what else she said, but I remember her explaining to me multiple times, “…because you love me a lot.”
Some people say that God orchestrates life so that, “Everything Happens for a Reason.”
I think that sounds kind of nice, but I don’t think it’s true at all.
What I do believe is that God creates beauty out of every kind of messy. Out of every kind of tragedy, every kind of sinful, every kind of awful. We’re the ones who create the mess, it’s our sin blemishing this world with hatred & selfishness & rape & murder. That’s us, people. That is so not God, causing “everything to happen for a reason.” Yet it is God, constantly consistently entering into the most broken places of our hearts and world, to bring healing, to bring beauty, to bring joy.
When I see Kaiya, first I see a beautiful little girl whom I love wild & fierce. I see a joyful heart, a sassy strong-willed character, a bright bubbly laugh, big brown eyes, a mischievous smile.
But sometimes I remember the way her life began, and when I remember that slight sliver of her story what I see is the most shattered, broken, destroyed circumstance… completely taken over, filled, redeemed, by God’s consuming Love.
Nothing is too broken, nothing is too messy, for God to transform, to make new, to reclaim as His own.