An army started rising to fight for Janet, and we were on the frontlines. We had two ambitions: 1) Enroll Janet in school and 2) Pursue medical treatment for her leg deformities with the dream of standing and walking.
June 28, 2002
I picked up the phone in the small Eldoret office, and my fingers dialed Joyland School for the Physically Disabled one hundred miles away in Kisumu. I needed to hear Janet’s voice, but the words that came out of the secretary’s mouth nearly made me drop the phone.
In April, we’d driven the windy roads in the Kenyan highlands through tea estates and coffee plantations to Kisumu. On the shores of Lake Victoria with the heavy humidity and endless sugar cane fields, we arrived at Joyland. Janet wore her pink dress and couldn’t stop smiling. With only a few spots available at the school, we risked the journey and the chance of disappointment for the hope of thirteen-year-old Janet to enter school for the very first time. The headmaster graciously met with us, interviewed Janet and took us on a tour where Janet saw other children in wheelchairs just like her.
Leading up to this, I’d sat in her humble home as she learned to hold a pencil and write her letters. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to learn, it was that she’d never been given an opportunity or a chance to learn.
The headmaster shook our hands as we left Joyland, told us she’d been accepted, and on
May 4th with her new green mattress and sky blue suitcase she arrived as a boarding student. Ready to learn. Ready to grow. Ready to be brave.
And now I stood with my ear to the phone: “Janet is one of two children selected from Joyland by Dr. Bransford to go to Bethany Crippled Children’s Hospital in Kijabe. She will have surgery on July 22nd.”
“Excuse me, could you repeat that?” I asked.
I had to hear it a second time just to make sure it was true.
We’d been told the risks and pain coupled with the probable 0% success rate of surgery were too great (shorten the femur, break the tibia, release the hips and surgically repair her legs to position them correctly).
But Dr. Bransford, an American missionary doctor who dedicated himself to improve the lives of surgery-deprived children, broke through the barriers of impossibility to face the determination of dreams. With Matt’s mom, Denise, miraculously raising enough funds to make school and surgery possible, we began making plans to meet Janet in Kijabe.
Our first ambition of getting Janet into school: check!
Our second ambition of pursuing medical treatment: by God’s grace and a series of miracles, we were one large step closer. Now all we had to do was wait for July 21st.
Sometimes all we need is someone to dream for us when life has battered and beaten us down to the ground. Someone to lift our chin from our situation to see the light of possibility, and then take us by the hand and say, “I won’t ever leave your side.”
We stood face-to-face with the determination of dreams every time we looked Janet in the eyes. And her physical journey to restoration was just beginning.