Once Upon A Prayer

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life is a Gift

Jacques and I received an email from Kyla, the China Operations Director of the International China Concern, who was helping to care for LiHua prior to her passing.  In her message she said, "Her caregivers are heart broken, and they are fearful.  Fear is common around death here, and something we battle in our high needs areas.  The caregivers are still taking care of a palliative baby that will pass any time.  We need to pray that they can embrace him with courage, and will not be too scared to face him and love him."   

Kyla is the brave woman who fought to show the Orphanage staff that this tiny baby had worth, and that a family who desperately wanted her could be found.  And sure enough, one was found - our family!  She asked Jacques and I to write a tribute about LiHua that would be translated and read at her memorial service, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14th at 8:30am (China Time). We decided that the best message we could send was one of hope, and where our hope comes from. 

Below is what we sent...

Dear ICC and Hengyang Orphanage staff,

Life is a gift. Every life is a gift. Every child born into this world is a gift. The tragedy is, that not every child is born with the same chance at a great life. Some are born into wealth and have every worldly opportunity to succeed. Others are born into dire poverty and may never have the opportunity to break out of it. Some children are born healthy and vibrant, thriving from day one. Other children are born with medical challenges they may never overcome. Some children are born into homes with parents who love and nurture them. Others are left on doorsteps or dumpsters, discarded by parents who don’t have the means to raise them.

But regardless of the circumstance we are born into, every child is a gift. Every baby matters. Every life has meaning. Li Hua was born into circumstances that broke our hearts. She was born poor and sick, and left by her parents who knew they didn’t have the means or ability to care for such a sick child.  Her parents most obviously loved her and left her when they didn’t know what else to do…they even left provision for her.  That means that everyday of her life until she was abandoned she was swaddled and loved by her birthmother.  And on the day that she was found, God in His care, brought her to a home where people would love her and care for her.  She did not suffer alone.  This brings us, her parents, great comfort and joy. Thank you for the love you showed our precious baby girl.

We fell in love with Hua when we first saw her picture and heard her story. She was lovable, and we began to dream! What would it be like if she came into our family? What would it be like if she had brothers and sisters to love and play with and fight with over toys?  How would she respond to the affection of a Papa and Mommy? What if loving doctors got her the medical care she needed? And the more we dreamed, the more we wanted her to be our daughter. So we made the relatively easy decision – let’s bring her home. We couldn’t wait to see the difference love could make!

This doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. I know this because people say to us all the time, ‘Why?” “Why bring home a child you know may die?” Or, “Why spend all that time and money when there are no guarantees that things will work out”. I’ll tell you why. Love is why!

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. I know this because I am the recipient of the greatest act of love ever displayed. The Bible teaches us that “God showed His great love for us by sending His son Jesus Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). In other words, just like our precious Hua, we were a complete mess.  She was physically sick. We were spiritually sick. Every one of us have done wrong things, said wrong things, and thought wrong things. Every single one of us. The bible calls those wrong things we do “sin”. And sin is a sickness – a spiritual sickness. And while God could have looked at the mess that we were and said, “Why bother with them”, he didn’t. Instead, he sent his son Jesus to die for us. The death of Jesus paid the price for our sin. In other words, God took the punishment we deserved for our sin for us. In so doing, he took our sin away. He healed our spiritual sickness! While we were sick with sin; while we were a mess, he died for us. That is the greatest act of love in the history of the universe. He took our sickness so that we could be well. Now that’s love, and without His love, we would still be a mess!

As people that have received God’s great love, nothing brings us more joy than to bring that same love to everyone – no matter their age or race or circumstance. Love had made the greatest difference of all in our lives. And so we believe love can make the greatest difference of all in the lives of others. Because God showed us His love when we were helpless and weak, we have a heart to bring love to children who are helpless and weak. We have watched with our own eyes the difference that love can make in the three children we adopted already from China – Lily, Mackenzie and Thaddaeus. They are thriving because a family cared enough to risk everything to give them a home. It’s the same thing God did for us. He risked everything to give us a home in His kingdom, and through His love, we are thriving!

We wanted so badly to see Hua have the opportunity to thrive. And it breaks our hearts that she is no longer with us. But we do not regret – not for a second - making her our own! We do not blame God for her death. God loves her, and she will have a home with Him forever.  We live in a world of sickness and pain, and we understand that death is a reality. Death is a certainty for everyone, whether young or old. Death is certain, but it is not final. And one day, we will get to meet her. And on that day, she will get to meet the family that loved her so much that they would go through anything to have her.  And thanks to the God who said, “I will do anything to have us”, we can look forward to that reunion in Heaven! 

You see, there is nothing to fear in death. Because death is not the end! It is the beginning of a life free of pain and suffering and turmoil. Revelation 21:4 tells us so. Jesus says, “On that day, I will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away”. You see; every human who loves God and follows His son, Jesus, is guaranteed that no matter the circumstances they were born into, this promise of new life is for them.

And while we are living in this sin filled, sickness filled, tragedy filled world in the meantime, we are going to bring as much love and hope and joy as we can. Because that is what our God did and does for us.

We are heartbroken that we won’t get to bring sweet Hua home, but we are filled with joy knowing she is not suffering now, and knowing a new life is what awaits her. Thank you so much to all of you who loved her and showed her that there is good all around – even in the middle of the trials! It is our hope and prayer that you will find hope and joy and peace in the love that God has in Jesus Christ, for you!

Jacques and Emily Rancourt
***Please consider spreading HOPE to the other children in the care of the International China Concern Program in memoriam of our sweet LiHua.  There are many ways that you can  donate to help save lives: http://www.chinaconcern.org/donate

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Million Times YES...LiHua

It is with an extremely heavy heart, and eyes that have been streaming tears all weekend that I share this news with you. Our adoption agency called on Friday night at 9:30pm to tell us that our sweet baby LiHua passed away. Yes, you read that correctly...Jacques and I have been expeditiously working behind the scenes to bring this sweet angel home. Her death was sudden and unexpected, and I ask that you pray for the people who loved and cared for her until she took her last breath. This must be so very difficult for them.

We find comfort in knowing that this precious child is now free from pain and broken flesh, and she is resting in the arms of our Savior.

Redeemed. Adopted. Safe.

Although our hearts physically hurt, we are still thankful. Li Hua's short life impacted our family in a huge way. She made me aware that within 10 seconds of reading an advocate's plea for a family to step out on faith to bring home a dying child who needed a liver transplant that Jacques and I would say "Yes Lord, send us!" I am thankful that Chinese officials read our letter of intent to adopt this ailing baby, and then suddenly realized that she was wanted, treasured, and worthy. I am thankful that when I came to all of you with a need of expensive, specialized formula and vitamins to help sustain her life, you all rallied and a provision beyond my wildest dream was collected (I assure you that the formula will still be delivered and used for other babies in need).

HOPE is never in vain because it originates with Him, and He never fails. I am thankful tonight even through this hard eucharisteo. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Every life is precious.  Every single last one. Our family will continue to say yes. A million times YES!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Can you hear me? He's my son...

In about an hour, Thaddaeus will be taken down for his first open heart surgery.  This is the surgery that most children who are born with half of a heart have as an infant.  The first thing that the surgeon said to me yesterday was that Thadd is WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY more complicated than Lily Grace.   I asked Dr. Jonas if that is why the surgeons in China would not operate on him - because he was so complex.  He told me that Thadd is too complicated for anyone, and that he has a very unfortunate combination of congenital heart defects.  We are so thankful that the surgical team here at CNMC is willing to try to bring our little dude some relief so that he can breathe easier.  Of course our HOPE, is that this surgery will eventually open the door to more surgical options for our son.

Thaddaeus' heart has two Superior Vena Cavas.  He has Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV) where the pulmonary artery and the aorta—the heart’s two great arteries—both arise from the right ventricle.  His pulmonary valve is completely closed, and his body has developed such a complex network of collateral vessels to oxygenate himself that his pulmonary arteries are not even being used.  As a matter of fact, where they typically like to place the BT Shunt that Thadd will receive today, is smack dab where he has two huge collateral vessels.  The team will need to improvise where they place his shunt, and it will not be as effective as it could be.  The biggest risk for an older child receiving a BT Shunt are that they will develop a blood clot in the shunt, or that the shunt will cause him to be oxygenated.  Either one of these factors could require a trip back to the Operating Room, so the team in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit will be watching him very closely.  And so will Mommy.

I am so thankful that the Almighty God of our universe,
who created all of Thadd's intricate anatomy,
is the same God who does hear our prayers.

He is sovereign...He is Faithful.

And only in Him do we find our HOPE!

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. 
Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you. 
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand!
Isaiah 41:10

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Eight months ago today...

Eight months ago today, 
a Hero's heart was placed inside of Lily Grace.

"Thank you"
will never be enough.

He gives power to the weak, 
And to those who have no might He increases strength. 
Isaiah 40:29