break my heart for what breaks yours

I found myself humming the lyrics, “Break my heart for what breaks yours….,” on the plane ride out to the Dominican.  Those words became so much more than lyrics as they found themselves in my prayers later that night.

I had no idea what I was asking for…

daniellanuno1

I saw them sitting there with their hands neatly folded in their laps.  His eyes cast downwards, and her beautiful doe eyes opened wide with wonder.
I watched for a moment before introducing myself and took them in, allowing my heart to capture them as they were.

I felt called to set aside everything else that day knowing that God had brought these orphans there for a reason, and so I set out to truly know their hearts and souls.

But the more I knew with each question asked, the more my heart was gripped with an ache it had never known before.
I had no idea it could become even greater.

They had no parents.  Both had died and their 16 year old sister, too young to be left in charge, had been mistreating them.

They knew their ages (she is 8, he is 10), but not their birthdays.

They didn’t go to school, maybe never had, and neither child knew how to read.

When I asked what their favorite thing to play with was, after a long pause, they told me there was nothing.

And when I asked what their favorite food was, again, they looked up into my eyes and their blank stare told me everything I needed to know.
What is a favorite food, when food isn’t even promised?

I quickly made them each two peanut butter & jelly sandwiches along with their own water bottles, and within minutes the food and water was gone.

Best to eat quickly before someone else has a chance to take it.

With food in their bellies and after hours of intentional time had passed, Daniella began to lean into me for snuggles, which I valued more than she knew.

daniellanunosmiles

daniellame

I asked them to come back the following day, promising them lunch, cake and more water.
They left with smiles and hugs, and seemed excited to have a plan.

The next day brought with it a rainstorm that wouldn’t end.  And as I watchfully stood at the doors of the church, I had a sinking feeling that the downpour was keeping them from the hope they had possibly gone to sleep with.

I couldn’t leave without seeing them again.
I had made promises, and I wasn’t about to break them.

When the day was done, we got into our car and set out to find where they lived.
To get them back in school I had offered to help with supplies, so I had an excuse to show up unannounced.

When I found their “home,” I knew my heart would never recover.
There was a heaviness that words will never capture.

You can never know that kind of pain until you are standing at the door of hopelessness.
We can never know their kind of pain, until we live that kind of hopelessness.

We think we understand, but we have no idea.

olivares

{similar to the building where we found Daniella.}

There she sat with another young girl, two teenagers (one with a baby on her hip), and a sketchy older man sitting on a motorcycle.
We were warned by the teen who had helped us find her that the man was a gangster of sorts, not one to be messed with.
And yet, as it turned out, he was the one who seemed to have all the questions to our answers about the children.

To this moment, that still doesn’t sit well with me.

I asked Daniella to show me where she slept and she lead to me a concrete room which I can only describe as resembling a jail cell, yet far worse.

She was sleeping on a mattress, solid black with rot, with only a thin dirty sheet thrown on top.
There were no toys, no bathroom, no food, no light, no hope.
{video of it here}

She told me she mostly slept there alone, while her two brothers and abusive sister (who had a 1 year old baby of her own) slept elsewhere.

daniellahouse3

daniellahouse2

Daniellahouse1

I pulled her close and held her as tight as my arms would allow while I choked back the sobs that were catching in my throat.

The very same sobs I am choking back even now.

I told her I loved her.
It was true, so much more than I expected.

I promised her I would be back, and that I would help however I could.
I told her she wasn’t alone anymore and that God had brought her and her family to me for a reason.
I asked if she believed me, and she pulled away from my embrace long enough to look at me with her big brown eyes and nodded her head yes ever so slowly.

I ached as I left her there, alone…and the moment the car door closed behind me, I cried like I have never cried before.

I had asked God to “break my heart for what broke His,” and I knew He was only allowing me a small portion of that.

It’s now been 4 days since I left them, and there hasn’t been a day my eyes have remained dry.
My heartache is no less.
I can’t forget them…
Because I know HE hasn’t either.

It can seem overwhelming.
There are so many more like them and there is so much to be done to truly make a difference.

But God didn’t bring them all to me.
Instead He brought me this one family.

And I hear His spirit whisper to me daily, “It all begins with one.”

daniella

And so I’ll be back.
And soon.
I have promises to keep.

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Comments

  1. Kristin Renee says:

    Oh Summer! What a truly amazing story of God’s will at work. I have tears of sadness and heartbreak for the children, but also tears of joy and hope, because you are in their lives now! God is reaching them through you. It’s so easy to detach from these ideas when they are abstract concepts we just talk about at church. But the fact that you experienced it firsthand; the miracles God performs when we let Him use us, and the children who need love so desperately . . . that is so very real. I am inspired and grateful that you shared your story. Honored that I now know a little about these children too. Thank you friend for your transparency. God bless you and those beautiful babies! Love, Kristin

  2. Pinky Vern says:

    Yes, it all begins with one…One who is leading…one who is willing…one who is receiving.
    Thanks for capturing and sharing this with us! Prayers continue!

  3. Rebecca McMilian Kachuriak says:

    Summer, I am so blessed reading about your time in the DR. I am praying for you, my friend, and for the sweet lives that are being touched. Also praying for Daniella and her family.
    Love, Rebecca

    • summersaldana@gmail.com says:

      Rebecca!!! Thank you so much sweet friend. Love you and miss you!!! xoxo

    • Thank you so much Rebecca!!!! Maybe one day you and your family can join us over there!!! What a sweet reunion that would be! =) We’ve grown up a little, huh? 😉 xoxo

Trackbacks

  1. […] On our last trip, I told you about meeting two orphans, Daniella & Nuno. […]

  2. […] told you before how I came to meet the two orphans we’ve been supporting, Daniella & Nano. (click the link to read the story if you’ve missed it) Immediately, […]

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