Newest to the toddler house, Asha held my hand as we led the way to the pool. She stepped up to the fence and pressed her face up to the bars to peer at the shimmering surface. The tía unlocked the gate, and we followed the train of eager faces onto the warm concrete. Squeals and excited yells abounded as the toddlers jumped into the water.
But not Asha.
In the blink of an eye, her expression dimmed. The same child that had smiled at me all morning now wore a panicked expression on her face. My brow wrinkled. Why was she so scared? I stepped closer to the water, and she let out a sob. She buried her face in my leg and held on tightly. A new realization entered my head.
She’s afraid of the water.
The same sparkling blue that looked so inviting to me was what gave Asha so much terror. I had seen fears of water before, but not one as paralyzing as this. With each step I took closer to the water, she screamed more and clung tighter.
One of the tías noticed my plight and brought over a box for me to sit on in the shade. I led Asha over and sat down, and she climbed into my lap. Her body slowly relaxed as we watched the splashing and laughter that went on before us.
Though we sat in the shade, the sun still peeked through peepholes in the leaves and reached us down below. The day was heating up. The cooling water looked even more refreshing when I was silently dripping, a few feet away.
The breeze rustled Asha’s dark curls, bringing with it an idea. I shifted her off my lap and moved slowly towards the pool. She clung to my hand and fussed all the way. When I was within arm’s reach of the water, I stopped. I dipped my hand into the water and splashed it onto my hot, dusty feet. Then I dipped my hand in again and ladled water onto her feet. The cool water glistened on our toes. Her tense figure softened, and we walked back to our box in the shade.
After another five minutes, we got up and walked to the water a second time. Within a minute we would return to our box, feet cooled off and refreshed. Another few minutes, and we did it again. And again. And again. Each time we went, Asha stepped a little closer to the water. She started pointing out her feet like a ballerina so I could put more water on them. With each trip we made, her fear diminished a bit more.
As lunchtime drew near, it was time to go. Leaving Asha sitting in the shade, the tías and I began to bring the soaked toddlers out, one by one, to dress and dry them. After a few minutes, I looked up to a sweet surprise.
There was Asha, squatted at the edge of the pool, dipping her hands in the water.
As she splashed around, her face was lit up with a smile. She turned and sat on the edge, dangling her feet into the pool. My heart melted. This sweet princess, brand new to the Hogar family, was blossoming before my very eyes.
Asha still is afraid of the water. Each new day, the tías give her their love and support, and she dips her hands in for one more day. They know she will be afraid tomorrow, but God’s love outlasts that fear. It never ends. It wraps Asha in comfort and peace, so that she can touch the water once more.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
Kris’s Note: We all have hopes for our children. Taking our babies out of the nest of our community in the states and learning to do life in Costa Rica was a leap of faith. The Lord promised to take good care of each of us. As Eliana shares her experience here, I see fulfillment of that promise. I could not be more proud of her.