One Hour

“Does one hour really matter?”

I asked myself this question as I sat in a hard plastic chair, feeding little Stephen his morning bottle.  He weighed about 8 pounds, smaller than my own boys were at birth, yet he was 7 months old.  Every few minutes, he pulled away from his bottle to smile at me.  His sucking reflex was so weak; he hardly took any formula.  Tears came to my eyes.

“What good can I possibly do?”  I reasoned as held his tiny form.

Stephen would be in an Infant Feeding Center in Guatemala City tomorrow, the next day and the next. If he got strong enough, he could go back to his family where, most likely, he would again receive poor nutrition.  It was a cycle that unfortunately runs over and over in this, and many other impoverished nations.

Again I questioned, “Can I actually make a difference in just one hour?”

I sat undone by this baby and wrestled with feelings of uselessness.  There were 30 babies in this center.  Stephen’s twin was crying from the next crib.  Some of the babies showed obvious signs of brain damage, due to neglect.  In all likelihood, some wouldn’t survive.

I asked God, “Is it really worth it?  Am I going to change anything in such a short amount of time?”

The teens in our group laughed while they wheeled little ones up and down the hallways.  The babies loved the attention.  Two weary Guatemalan women gratefully handed over infants to be held.  I looked again at Stephen and he smiled.  With a huge lump in my throat, I swallowed my tears, smiled back at him and gave him a little tickle.  I told him he was a silly guy and he better start drinking his bottle.  He went back to sucking, eyes glued on my face.

I then took a shaky breath and prayed.  I prayed for Stephen’s life now, and I prayed for his future.  I prayed for his parents and his siblings.  When he finally drank the last from his bottle, I hugged him and laid him in his crib. He smiled. A few cribs down, another little one waited for his bottle.

That was three years ago.  I have no way of knowing if Stephen is a healthy three-year-old. If he lives, he is unaware of the woman in Minnesota who loves and prays for him. But, I have answered my questions.

One hour matters.

One hour makes a difference.

It is worth it.

I am changed.