fast forward almost exactly four years: she couldnt speak. she had almost no voluntary muscle movement. she had already stretched me far beyond my comfort zone in only 3 short days. we couldnt get her to smile all week. a little smirk here and there, but no real smiles. she was capable, but refused. this broke me to the core. i had never done this before; taken kids with special needs to a younglife camp for a whole week. all i wanted to do was love her, to serve her well. i didnt expect much, because a smile was literally all she could offer, but it was all i needed to keep going.
the interns brought out the forklift with a handmade basket. we got in. first her, in her wheelchair, then me, then the two interns. as we were lifted up into the sky, my heart raced. "are we really going to put a non-verbal quadriplegic girl barreling through the sky on a zipline that lands in water?" we stood at the top, looking down. i was shaking as i fastened her helmet. they clipped her into the device that was made for situations like this, you know, situations when God calls people to stop at nothing to make sure that every kid has the opportunity to experience all that life has to offer, even if they physically "can't." we began to open the gate on the forklift. we called down to the bottom to let them know that she was on her way down. then, as we began to release her, her neck had a spasm, which caused her entire upper body to shift out of the device. we pulled her back. "we can't do this. i can't do this. it isn't safe," one of the interns said. we prayed. we asked God to show us what to do as as we began to unfasten her gear. "a chest harness!" one of the interns yelled suddenly. "throw up a chest harness!" so, one of the property staff from below threw a chest harness high up in the air. the intern caught it! they began to fasten her in again. we prayed. my mama bear instincts kicked in. she was strapped in safely, and ready to go. i turned to the more hesitant intern, "is the risk worth it? i feel like she is going to love it, but is it worth it? are you one hundred percent sure she will be okay?" we prayed. he replied, "i feel one hundred percent sure that she'll be fine." we prayed again, this time with her. she had been sitting so patiently, loving all of the attention, but probably entirely unsure of what was about to take place. my heart was beating out of my chest as they radioed down to our friends in the water letting them know that we were sending her down and to be ready to catch her the second she hits the water. tears filled my eyes as i pleaded with God to protect her. we opened the gate and began to let go again. this time, we completely let go. she started to sail through the sky, and from three feet away from us, an enormous smile spread across her face. she began to squeal with delight. she was joyful! and beaming! and i looked at the interns next to me who were wiping tears from their eyes. totally worth it.