Mountains and Moments and the Death of a Child

Elections, pandemics, wars (and rumors of), climate change, the refugee crises, space travel, quantum computers, “hyperloop” pods – our world is full of mountains great and terrifying. Some of these we encounter and work to summit. Some we build through avarice, pride, prejudice and only notice them when they halt our forward trek.

Less formidable upon the horizon, in the valleys and hillocks, along the rivers and deep in the woods, there is life. It is the digging and sowing and pruning and harvesting life. It is the birthing and growing and wedding and dying life.

It is no secret that the majority of humanity’s “wealth” is invested in building or breaking mountains. Collectively, there is an insatiable hunger to go further and higher – more knowledge, more power, more influence. And this collective mind trickles downward into the valleys, planting dreams of “more” as our children (and adults!) long to wash the earth from their hands, to cast aside toil for travel forwards and upwards. The word “settle” has become bitter to the palate, exchanged for the sweetness of wanderlust and upward-mobility-lust.

The tragic consequence of holding a constant upward and forward gaze is that we look down and around less. We begin to live through, yet not experience, the moments of life. We are there, but not fully present.

There is danger here, which is the whole point of this reflection. Our values, which are evidenced not through what we say they are, but rather through the actions and priorities (fruits) of our daily lives, are influenced by the direction of our gaze. When we spend more time deepening our relationship with God, when we spend more time sharing in the joy and sorrow with family and friends, when we spend more time climbing “mountains”, when we spend more time showing who we want to be than living who we are – we are nurtured by the soil we are planted in.

Throughout this past year, Niños con Valor, like many ministries, has been consumed by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, by our need to not only recuperate lost revenue but grow so as to have a bigger impact. We have talked countless hours about the Bolivian elections and the potential impact upon our organization. We have met to discuss strategy for expanding our ministry – onward and upward.

And then a child became sick. And then that child died. *Linda, who was a light in our midst, who defied doctors’ expectations and learned to walk, to talk, to laugh with her “brothers” and “sisters”, became suddenly ill two weeks ago, and in less than 24 hours had passed on to be with her Lord. In that moment, everything became still. Our eyes fixed upon this precious life, with us only 33 months, and yet impacting each of us in ways that will continue until we meet her again in Glory.

Why is it, that when these moments occur – births, deaths, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc. – the mountains seem to fade? What might life be like, if we invested ourselves fully in the moments, and spent less time, energy and resources in scaling or building mountains? Would there be more or less happiness? More or less peace? More or less justice?

Linda’s 33 months with us were short. She did not have the opportunity to grow up and experience a lot of life’s offerings. Yet the time she had was spent from moment to moment, moments filled with love and joy, moments that in a short time combined to create a true and lasting summit. She had a happy life. She was loved and knew it. And we are all the better because of it.

Prayer Requests

  • For God’s peace following Linda’s passing – for our children and staff, and the many individuals who have been a part of her life from inside and outside of Bolivia.
  • For wisdom as we seek to live in the moment and give each individual child in our care the depth of recognition and love they deserve.
  • For Julieta, an 8-year-old girl who just joined our family. She is receiving treatment for leukemia following years of neglect and is clearly very traumatized – that we can share with her the love of Christ, and that he would bring her physical healing.
  • For Isaac, an 8-month-old boy who recently joined our family as well – that we would be able to provide the support he needs at such a crucial age for his development, and that we would be able to provide the preventative health care he needs for his condition.

Praise Reports

  • For the opportunity we have to share life with the 42 children, teens and young adults currently in our care – we learn and grow so much, and there really is no better blessing that being entrusted with sharing of God’s healing love to those in most need of it.
  • For our two new US board members – Becky and Andrew – who along with the rest of the team bring incredible experience and passion to the table for the sake of our children.
  • For our two new youth therapists and new psychologist recently hired to work with our boys – all are men of faith and we feel really good about their commitment to serving our children with their gifts and experience.