Picture Worth More Than a Thousand Words

DETROIT, MI (July 19, 2011) – Editor’s note: This story was taken from a blog post about a family that received dental treatment – and more – at one of Community Covenant Care’s permanent sites, during the citywide Everyone a Chance to Hear (EACH) campaign. It has been slightly modified.

“EACH encourages volunteers to come up with two words – one word really – a question and an answer with which to communicate the story of their faith in Jesus. The initiative even has suggestions, words one often associates with Christians: “Loved? Loved.” “Purpose?” Purpose.” “Forgiven? Forgiven.”

But Yvette Rock, who sits at a table covered with colored pastels, pencils, charcoal and drawing paper in the waiting room of Covenant Community Care’s West Grand Boulevard Health Center on Good Friday morning, has an unusual word, a dynamic, bilingual one shared by four-year-old Keila. The girl is sitting across from Yvette and scrawls a busy picture of a cat and a sun with a smiling face and clouds that look like exploding stars.

The signs attached to Yvette’s table say it: “Artist? Artist.” “¿Artista? Artista.” Next to Keila is something that says it, too: Yvette’s portrait of the little girl, enormous brown eyes wide, pink knit cap pulled down on her long dark brown curls. Yvette works on a drawing of a butterfly for Ada, Keila’s mother. As she does, she chats in Spanish.

Ada, Keila, and Keila’s father, José, came to West Grand this morning because José’s teeth have been causing him pain for days. Family members heard about the free dental treatment being offered by Connect EACH to Care through their church, First Spanish Baptist Church of Southwest Detroit.

José received a physical checkup, too, because he happens to have high blood pressure. Ada tells Yvette that José is very nervous about this.

As Ada and Keila wait, Yvette approaches them with the offer to draw Keila’s portrait. Yvette uses pencil, but promises to color in with pink, Keila’s favorite color. The little girl is, after all, decked out in pink, or “rosa” in Spanish.

She gives the little girl drawing paper and a pencil, and Keila is off and away on her own while Yvette begins to sketch a picture of a butterfly for Ada.

Ada and José are in special circumstances, but circumstances common to southwest Detroiters. They are Honduran immigrants – Ada is three months pregnant, and though Keila was born in the United States, Ada and José have a ten-year-old son who is still in Honduras.

Ada, who is soft-spoken, becomes even quieter when speaking about him. In response to Yvette’s request, Ada writes his name on a slip of paper. Yvette asks another volunteer if she can think of a verse to encourage Ada in her quest to reunite her family. The volunteer suggests, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Yvette smiles. She finishes coloring the brilliant orange-and-black wings of the monarch butterfly alighting on a yellow flower. She takes a blue pencil and shades a brilliant azure border around the butterfly’s wings. Then, with her pencil, she writes underneath the butterfly, “Nada es imposible con Dios.” She presents it to Ada.

Ada regards it. She marvels. How much, she asks Yvette in Spanish, does this cost? Yvette bursts out laughing. She waves her hand. This is free! All of it! Then Yvette offers to pray with Ada, to pray for her family, for her new baby, and for her son still in Honduras. She will pray in English, if Ada would like to pray in Spanish. The two women bow their heads. The little girl stills.

José is done. As he describes his treatment, Keila turns to Ada and says when she is grown up, she wants to become a doctor and come back and work here. The family members gather the drawings Yvette has done. When they have left, Yvette approaches another family. Would they like their portraits drawn?

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