When we came to Benin, we joined a local church. There we met a sweet and shy teen named Esther. Although her legs were normal at birth, they began to bow as she grew. By the time we met her, Esther’s legs were about 2 feet apart at the knees. She longed to play with the other children, but her condition made her movement awkward and difficult.
Her mother, Grace, had prayed for years and years for her daughter, that one day she would walk and play like the other girls. But, there was never enough money for the costly surgery. Grace believed that God would make a way where there did not seem to be a way. Grace was about to meet Mercy Ships.
One day they heard that the Africa Mercy was coming to Benin. Shortly after we met Esther at church, she came to the ship for her orthopedic surgery. After her surgery, she spent some time in casts as her legs healed into their new straight position.
Then came the big celebration at church. Esther arrived and I was blown away by how tall she was! She stood smiling by her mom’s side, grateful for their answered prayers. After service, it was a joy to watch her play, and also to see her willingness to use the gift she had received to care for and serve others.
A few weeks later, the church had a picnic at a local beach. Everyone wanted to go swimming, but as it turned out, no one knew how to swim! Imagine one mass swimming lesson. We laughed and splashed and they laughed some more. Then, I saw Esther standing on the beach. Grace and others urged her toward the water, but she was afraid. With coaxing and assurances, I led her by both hands into the water. She clung to me tightly, but gradually she relaxed and realized that she could do it. Soon, she was showing others how to float and also starting splash wars!
What a joy and privilege to witness Esther’s journey! Thank you for being part of transforming Esther’s life and God’s answer to Grace’s prayers!