As we sat there with my parents, all five of us in tears, Lystra eventually implored us to think beyond the moment to what our lives would look like many decades down the road. She reiterated what we already knew – Ernest does not talk. She described the time she spends with Ernest one-on-one each day, and how little progress he’s made in even simple tasks like sorting blocks. I think she would have laughed when we told her Annie had described him as a leader in the school if it hadn’t just been so sad. In every way she could think of, without actually saying the words herself, she tried to talk us out of bringing Ernest home – especially when she heard that we already had three children. At the end of the hour she hugged us and prayed such a sweet, tender prayer for us – people she didn’t know “from a can of paint” (her words, which did and do make me smile… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at another paint can without thinking of Lystra!).
When we awoke that morning we were already definitely leaning towards walking away for good. Our conversation with Lystra really just confirmed what we had already concluded on our own. In the weeks since those dreadful two days, when we have replayed the situation in our minds and hearts, we have thanked the Lord for bringing her to us. She loves Ernest. She knows him. She wants what’s best for him. But even she was convinced that leaving him at Kondanoni was the right thing to do. When we’ve wondered whether we were crazy; when we’ve wondered if we were just seeing things; when we wonder if we overreacted… we think back to our conversation to Lystra. She knew the truth, and at great personal risk, she shared the truth with us. I still tear up when I think about the love she expressed to us – complete strangers – knowing what a tremendous impact she might have on our lives, yet also knowing that crossing Annie could have a devastating impact on her life.
We still don't know the effect of that conversation on Lystra's life or position, but we would soon have the opportunity to find out for ourselves how challenging dealing with Annie could be.
(Never mind the tears, lack of make-up, dirty clothes and unshaved faces... just praise the Lord for our angel in the middle!)