Remember the story from Helen Keller's childhood where her teacher, Annie Sullivan, is pumping water over Helen's hand while frantically spelling W-A-T-E-R over and over in her palm? Helen Keller tragically had become both blind and deaf following illness when she was about 18 months old. When Helen was six, after years of heartbreak, Annie Sullivan had been hired by Helen's parents as a last hope to reach the child in her dark, silent world.
After Annie started working with Helen, a seemingly interminable time passed with no change.The little girl just didn't understand the teacher's attempts to help her connect the words she signed into Helen's palm with the objects they represented.
Then what had begun to seem impossible happened. Breakthough came. As water gushed over her hand, Helen understood the link between the letters and what was flowing out of the pump.
Our little Oksana has had this kind of week.
Oksana came to us with a tremendous speech delay. Although she could say a few words in Russian, they were poorly aritulated and difficult to understand, even for Russians.
It wasn't that Oksana didn't talk. She would babble on and on, looking beseechingly to the listener to demonstrate comprehension. But Alexander summed up the challenge within our first few days together when he said, "Not Russian, not English." Oksana came to us with her own language that no one could understand.
Virtually nothing has changed in the past five months. Despite the efforts of everyone in the family to help her learn English, she just hasn't progressed.
Having adopted five children right around her age in the past, we knew the speech delay was serious. Our guess was that her speech was at about the level of a 2-1/2 year old, despite her chronological age of 6-1/2. We prayed and sought the help of the Great Physician who healed the mute when He walked the earth. We've seen the Lord heal our orphans' broken hearts and damaged bodies, and we again put our hope in Him.
And yesterday a Helen Keller breakthrough came. Oksana looked at her sister Lissie who has been ill and said, "Feelyoubetter." I didn't know whether she was inquiring into how her sister felt or wishing her improved health, but I knew she'd strung three words together, three words she'd never demonstrated she knew singly. I could have danced a jig as I said a prayer of thanksgiving.
Today has been equally encouraging. This morning while the older kids were doing their school work, Oksana was playing with a developmental toy. She set up the pegs and then said clearly, "It's my birthday." Again, she'd never spoken any of these words individually before. I was so tickled I did dance a jig this time. I picked up my brown-eyed beauty and twirled her around the room as she threw back her head and giggled.
As the day has gone on, another two or three of these priceless, three-word sentences has jumped from Oksana's lips. One of them came when she was talking to Anna in Cincinnati. It was clear enough for her oldest sister to understand even over the telephone.
Oksana entered an orphange about the same age that Helen Keller became blind and deaf. God is so very kind to give this precious child the gift of speech. The healing has only just begun, but it has begun. And God has given Oksana and her parents a Helen Keller gift--breakthrough.
May God be glorified!