She has told her story last two years ago on one of our issues on Motherhood. However we would like to tell it again and view it from another perspective - from the perspective of a mother who searched not so much the “whys” of the disability of a child, but for “what” she can do for him and the rest who have the same disability.
Linda and Tom were on their third year of marriage and they were blessed with a child whom they named Thomas Emmanuel. They were so happy and felt abundantly blessed. However three days later, they learned that their child was not normal. God gave them a child with Down’s Syndrome, a Mongoloid. She knew what it meant. Being a pediatrician she knew that her child will suffer for his whole life a developmental disability and mental retardation. They felt devastated. For Linda it was the most painful and traumatic event in her whole life and the first real trial in their married life. In their pain and misery they turned to God for answers to their questions and for solace and comfort. “There must be a good reason why He gave us, of all parents in the world a special child,” Linda told herself. And together they searched for answers.
Then they remembered. On the night before the news was broken to them, Tom, her husband, read an article entitled, “Not why but What.” It was a story of a missionary who contracted a lung disease which cut short her missionary work in India. She went back to Finland worked on a farm she bought. One day while working on the threshing machine, her right hand was severed. She said, “When my hand was severed, I immediately looked up to my Lord and said, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do now that my right hand is gone? What work? I’m not asking why, but what?” God later used her to turn her farm into a home for elderly Christians, bringing blessings to many.
From this story Linda and Tom knew why of all parents they were chosen by God for this special child. They stopped asking him “why, Lord” and instead they asked Him “what now Lord.” Since then Linda and Tom organized The Light and Faith Community, a fellowship community of families of mentally handicapped children. They also organized the Emmanuel Center for Special Children, a center that offers support for mentally handicapped Children and their families. Together they also organized the Iloilo Friends of the Handicapped Foundation, Inc. It is a non-government organization composed of professionals dedicated to improving the welfare of the physically and mentally handicapped.
Thomas Emmanuel has been instrumental and the driving force of all these efforts. All these because in their most difficult moments, Tom and Linda asked not “why” but “what now, Lord.”