At the beginning of this year, we brought a little boy into our Iris family named Laza. We had seen glimpses of his challenging little life when his mother brought him to our milk program. He had already survived Meningitis and Tuberculosis that had traveled to his brain, which combined with severe malnutrition, left him weighing just four kilograms at two years old, when his mother decided to give him to our center.
The week he came to us, he went back in the hospital for one month, as he continued to fight a chest infection and faced many other challenges, including seizures and difficulties breathing and swallowing. It looked like an uphill battle, but when he came home to us from the hospital for the first time to live in one of our missionary houses, we couldn’t have been more excited or honored to have him as a part of our family, and to love him and watch him grow and do well in life! Our medical team, missionaries, and house parents poured into him day and night as we watched him transform in every way- he gained weight, he began to move and hold his head up on his own, and he was full of smiles. This tiny little boy who couldn’t walk, talk, or even hold his head up, completely captured our hearts and filled us with joy as we loved him and watched him grow. Every milestone and every victory was a miracle, an incredible testimony of the love of God.
We watched him transform before our eyes every day, not just because of a good feeding plan or doctors, but because that’s what LOVE does. Simple love.
We were completely shocked and heartbroken when Laza passed away unexpectedly early this May. There aren’t words to describe the loss of such a precious and irreplaceable part of our family. But more, we are grateful that God would bring him to us, and that in his short time with us, he would know what love looked like. Even the fact that as we sat with him on the day he passed away, that this child who was given away was now surrounded by many loving mamas (missionaries, nurses, and houseparents), honored to pour out endless love on this precious son. And his one life was worth it. Each child, each person, and each ONE life is worth it- worth every moment laid down and poured out in love.
And even in difficult times like this, it has been a season that is marked with the promise “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
It is the constant reality that we walk in here – true, pure JOY- as we see the unconditional, undeniable love of God transform lives in every season. And we have watched it happen over and over and over again in our family, where the love of God has come in and transformed the most desperate and difficult of situations. We have seen the tiniest, and most malnourished babies grow into some of the chubbiest, happiest, and healthiest little toddlers we know. We have seen broken and abused children, full of bitterness and anger, be filled with hope and joy. We have seen orphaned slaves grow into sons, who know that they have a loving Father.
Only the love of God can do that, when he calls children into their destiny as His sons and daughters. It’s why family has always been the heart of Iris Madagascar – to bring every unwanted and abandoned child into a loving family, where the love of God can transform their lives.
Our director Caroline Thomas shares, “[I am amazed] at all God does here with our awesome kids, and for the whole way that He has worked out His perfect plan for the kids of Iris Madagascar. He has always called us to be a FAMILY… He’s made us a BIG crazy family, and I love to see how amazingly our kids are doing. I am so thankful to Jesus for making sure that this has been a family from the beginning, and that he has poured out his best blessings on these kids, my favorites in all the world.
“That they lack NOTHING because they are the best thing that has ever happened to us, and their Daddy in Heaven gives them everything that they need… and that His perfect love, and our hugs and kisses poured out on them, washes off all their previous hurt, pain, abuse, trauma, and abandonment, and that they are totally restored by LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. And seeing them grow and develop is the most amazing, tear jerking, heart bursting thing that could ever happen.”
And we are honored to lay down our lives, totally ruined with love for each one of them and following the example of the Father, who first instigated huge families when he called us all His precious children and adopted us all into HIS family.
No longer orphans! Loved and cherished!