She was five when she plunked herself in front of the piano and proceeded to play Fur Elise…flawlessly. In contrast to the other medically needy children that we had fostered, Na Rae was from economically able and educated parents. The advanced technology, however, necessary to repair her fragile and sickly heart was not available in her home of Seoul, Korea.
For months preceding her arrival, my family anxiously awaited our new ‘daughter’, praying daily for safe travels and courage to make the transition to a new home, new language, new people, strange food, as well as the inevitability of open heart surgery and fairly extensive recovery time. My youngest daughter, Gillian, could hardly contain her anticipation as they were but 6 weeks apart in age and Na Rae would be attending kindergarten with her.
Our prayers shifted considerably upon her arrival in the U.S, often being reduced simply to tearful pleas of “why” or “help”. This self-possessed little dynamo was unhappy with everything in her new surroundings, ourselves included. For well over the first month the rapport and bonding for which we had worked and hoped, which was vital to any form of successful surgery and recovery, was not happening.
If ever we had labored to love and win the trust of anybody, it was here, but Na Rae seemed to stand resolutely impenetrable. I was dismayed and discouraged. Gillian was crushed and ready to give up trying.
About six weeks into what was expected to be a 4-6 month commitment I heard Gillian sobbing from the top bunk in the small bedroom that she shared with Na Rae. She had been scratched in a little girl catfight. Out of sheer fatigue and frustration I resisted entering but stood outside of the room and waited. What transpired next was akin to the heavens opening up with angels singing in glorious abandon and golden light illuminating the scene. I heard a tiny voice in broken English utter,”I sahry Gil”. Na Rae stood on her bottom bunk and laid her hand on Gillian’s back.
That redemptive moment transformed a dimly lit tiny pink room into sacred space. The days that ensued attested further to the reality of God’s hand in the process of that inner healing. It was as if a shell had cracked from which a newly transformed happy child began to emerge. Her heart seemed to grow exponentially and we all reveled in the change. Na Rae became a beloved family member whom everyone adored …cheerful, considerate, grateful and fun. She radiated life and enthusiasm. In mid-December, two weeks after this incident, with valor and grace, Na Rae underwent open heart surgery, recovering as well as the doctors could ever have anticipated
Gillian and Na Rae, by ASW