Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Wish, a Picture and a Lesson on HIV

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to spend an afternoon with my new friend, Lisa. I have been reading her blog for a while now and have LOVED reading her story. You see, Lisa is a single mom. A special-ed teacher that God called to even MORE. She has now adopted 3 kids out of the foster system. And, she's a foster mom to more at times! Amazing, huh?! Well, her daughter, Olivia, is HIV+ and as such qualified for a wish from Make a Wish! What did she wish for? A week in Florida! Yeah! They promptly flew to the Give Kids the World Village, an amazing resort property created simply to make children happy. (check out Lisa's blog for even more details!).

We were so excited to hear they were coming to town, so I let the kids do NO naps (dangerous, huh?!) and headed down to Give Kids the World for an afternoon of fun. This place is amazing!! They had the cutest little villas for each family, restaurants (everything is free), a game room, ice cream parlor. . the whole nine yards! I was so impressed!! It was such a fun afternoon. I loved spending time with Lisa and her gang. Brayden was SUPER psyched to meet another Braeden and Princess Olivia (as I called her all day) was feeling extra special, knowing that it was all because of her that we even got to be there. By the way, can I do an HIV side note here? I will say that 6 months ago, I knew NOTHING about HIV. I knew it was a problem. . .knew, in my head, that you couldn't "get it" through casual contact and knew that it was taking over Africa. That was the extent. I feel so thankful to have learned so much recently. My heart absolutely ACHES for the children throughout the US and Africa who have this disease. I ache especially for those stuck in Africa for whom this will be a killer. I never knew that coming to the US would literally save their lives. I didn't know that with the advances of medicine today that HIV is now considered a "chronic but manageable" disease. Literally, with ARVs (the meds available here in the US) kids can live LONG lives! AND, with the ARVs. . .even the HIV cells in their blood are considered negligable. Did you know that? You can't get it through casual contact and can BARELY get it through blood to blood contact! AND, the kids will be mostly healthy and live long lives! I thought of all of this because of something Lisa said. She said she didn't even know WHY Olivia qualified for a wish. I loved this. A few months ago, that would have been shocking to me. Come on, the girl has HIV! I have to admit. . I may have been scared to be with someone with HIV. Not in my head of course. . knowing (very few of) the facts. . .but down deep, I think I may have been a little afraid (I'm ashamed to even admit that). Now, that fear is gone. I LOVED hugging all over this sweet girl. She is gorgeous, precious and has the sweetest heart. You should have heard the way she talked to the little ones. Even if her brother wasn't being nice, she answered in the sweetest voice! I really loved her! I now am praying for God to bring HIV + children into our church family and my group of friends. I want the opportunity to be there for a family. . to be the friends who know the truth and can love on them without question. I know the hardest thing for families adopting or fostering HIV+ children is simply the stigma. Others are afraid. . they are afraid for their kids and for themselves. . .and act in that fear without showing and experiencing the perfect love that casts out fear.

Ok, that was my little rant for the day! I LOVE Lisa and how open she has been on her blog. She, along with others (especially sweet Carolyn who just came home with Selah from Ethiopia) has been used by God to open my eyes and my heart to a whole wonderfully special group of children who desparately need more advocates, prayer warriors and friends. In fact, our KidsLake project for September is going to be for HIV kids in Ethiopia! We'll have a number of different activities for all ages. . just wait!

Back to our time. . .sorry. . I get distracted sometimes! We had such a wonderful afternoon. Her kids are precious and I loved getting to know Lisa more. Hopefully, when she comes back to FL next, we can take some girl time to actually talk. You guys know how hard it is to get an actual conversation in with all the kids! Thanks Lisa. . for just being you. I already love you and your sweet family and can't wait to see God grow our friendship!

PS if you want to learn more about adopting and HIV+ child, click on the logo to the right called, "From HIV to HOME" !!!!!

What a lovely picture of me, huh? I'm sure you guys think I'm adorable here! I was actually making faces at Davis, who Lisa was letting play with her digital camera! Davis thinks this is the funniest game. . .though, now that I'm remembering about parenting "inside the funnel". . he won't be playing with my camera much anymore either!

4 comments:

Laura said...

Last summer, we brought our youth group to volunteer at Give Kids the World. WHAT AN AWESOME EXPERIENCE! I am glad that you had such an amazing time with them, and what sweet children!

melissa sue said...

brandi,
I really enjoy reading your blogs and I especially enjoyed reading this one. children with HIV have always been very dear to my heart. I found an organization that helps families adopt children with HIV called Chances By Choice. It's super neat! thank you for this blog! take care!

Cassie - Homeschooling Four said...

Sounds like you had a good time. Thanks for sharing the story.

Danielle said...

Thanks for sharing a beautiful and very informative bit of your life.