A Hole in her Heart

December 27, 2013 • Canada
Children's Heart Project Isabella

Isabella traveled from Uganda to North America with her mother and an interpreter to receive life-saving heart surgery. Now Isabella has returned home with a whole heart.

Jo Franklin hosted Isabella, her mother, and the interpreter while they were in Canada for Isabella’s surgery. Jo took the family to all the doctors’ appointments and grew close with them. Now that they have left, she thinks about how they have affected her.

Tonight our house seems very quiet. No little feet are scampering around bringing me hugs and little toys. No women are sitting by the fire crocheting their blankets. My daughter is back in her own room sleeping comfortably in her bed. My heart feels full and yet a little like there is an empty space in it.

Help Save a Child’s LifeAfter we got home from the airport, my family and I sat around the table eating bowls of ice cream and talking about what we will miss about our Ugandan friends. No one will yell, “Welcome Home,” every time we walk in the door. I will miss seeing the excitement on Jean’s and Kellen’s faces when they experience something new, like seeing the falling snow. Graham will miss playing with his little buddy, Isabella. We will all miss their presence in our home.

Children's Heart Project Isabella

It didn’t take long for Isabella to get comfortable in her new home. Here she is posing with her host brothers, Graham and Wesley, on her first night in their home.

Yes, there will be no little girls fighting over toys, no more extra dishes to wash (although they always washed the dishes for me), no extra people to tote to and from the store, but we will miss them.

Thinking of how we may never see them again makes my heart heavy and sad, but then I recall what a privilege it was to be a part of their experience here in Canada. A little girl is going back home with a heart restored to full health. A mama can now send her daughter to school knowing her heart is strong enough to withstand the long walk. A daddy can sleep a little easier every night with the sense that his little girl is not fighting another infection or struggling to get oxygen to all parts of her body.

Tonight, I said goodbye to Isabella with the assurance that the hole in her heart has been repaired. Yet, at the same time, a hole is forming in my own heart because of the void left in her absence. I will allow that empty space to remind me of three precious ladies that I love so much returning to Uganda. I will pray for them and think of them often.

I hope Isabella will grow up sharing with her brothers and sister of how God worked a miracle in her heart. She’ll get out the photo book we gave her, and she’ll recall her adventure in Canada. She’ll recall going swimming, riding on the train into the city, and watching her mommy try to ice skate. Most of all, she will know that God most certainly has good plans for her life as she remembers when He filled the hole in her heart.

With the emptiness that I feel comes a longing for more and a gratefulness of what God allowed my family to be a part of. I know the peace and joy that comes from being the hands and feet of Christ. I’ve experienced being a part of something so much bigger than myself, and I do not want to be content to settle back into a life centered on me.

Children's Heart Project Isabella

Isabella made a full recovery after surgery, and now she can return home to Uganda and share about how God healed her.

Tonight I will rest. Tomorrow I will enjoy a quiet day with my family. Next week, we will go about the routine of school, work, and chores. I will allow God to renew my spirit because I am tired, but I will long for another day when our home will be filled yet again with more mouths to be filled, more voices to be heard, and more hearts to be loved.

Sweet dreams, Isabella, as you soar above the clouds tonight. Sweet hugs in the coming days as you greet your family. May your spirit remain sweet as you recall the goodness of your Father and His love for you. I’m thankful I could be a part of your life. I welcome the hole that you left in my heart.