A Love That Transforms

February 24, 2018

Written by Canadian HFI Reservist: Rebecca Houwelling

We are faced with choices everyday. Do we simply complete the task set before us, or do we choose to enter in to more? To truly see the person before us. To see more than what needs to be done physically, and see the deeper needs.

This isn’t the easy way, because it requires time we don’t always have and a giving of ourselves when we don't feel willing – for this requires vulnerability and empathy. This requires an opening of ourselves to more of the story. Their story. Their pain. Their hurt. Their deep needs.

During our medical clinic in a rural village in the Himalayas, I chose the second option.

elisha2 e1519438376348This is Elisha. I met her when she came to my station in the clinic triage. She was shivering so much her whole body was shaking. Her hands and feet were like ice. She was sick. 

I started with my tasks. Asking questions, doing vital signs. Then quickly realized much more was needed here. Yes, medically but also emotionally. I gave her the sweater off my back and gave her my tea to hold to try and warm up her freezing hands. I hugged her. I showed her love. This whole time she was emotionless, and my heart was breaking.
I brought her to one of our amazing Nurse Practitioners, Tina, and she also chose to do more than physically treat her. She chose to enter in and truly care for this precious little one.

We found out she was abandoned by her parents, living with her grandma who was striving to work enough to care for Alecia and her siblings. sadly, a story that isn’t foreign here and other places I have been.

We ensured she would come back to the clinic the next day to check in medically and also planned a home visit with the organization we partner with here in Nepal: Apple of God’s Eye. they focus on rescuing those who have been trafficked and preventing this and other abuse and injustice from happening.

We loved on her the best we could that first day but the photo on the left shows how she left our clinic that first day.

I cried and prayed desperately for her situation that night. Our whole team did. And the transformation was undeniable.


From one day to the next, she was different in so many ways. She had energy, a sparkle in her eyes, and the biggest smile on her face.

I arrived to the clinic early that morning and there she was waiting at the bottom of the hill I hiked down. Waiting.

I gave her a huge hug and that beautiful smile couldn’t be wiped off her face. She clung to me and soaked in the love. I didn’t care about her snotty nose, lice-filled hair, or dirty hands.

She deserved love above all.elisha3

We all deserve love. Unconditional and unending. Regardless of where we come from, what our circumstances, who we are. And God has broken my heart again for girls like Alecia who don’t know this kind of love.

Although I had to leave this dear one, I know the story isn’t over. Her story. My story. God’s story and plan for us both.

Not only has she broken my heart but she has stolen a piece of it too. If I could, I would’ve taken her home (and I know I’m not the only one). But right now, she has a grandma who is doing what she can to care for her with what she has. She is now connected to an amazing organization who will watch over and support how they see best given their incredible experience and the wisdom that comes through that. So I will trust that God will continue to hold her and that the love she felt will not be forgotten. That she will know she is cared for not only by her grandma or this white girl from across the world, but also by a God who is holding her in the palm of His tender loving hand.

Love changes everything. Friends, may we not forget this.


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