On August 18, we traveled 3 hours up north to the mountains of Boaco with FIEMCA-Global CHE to check on the communities there and teach for the day. This is something we do every 3 months and we expected our day to go according to schedule. However, the roads were very bad after the recent rain and it took us longer than expected to get there. We had to park the truck a few miles from the last destination and hike our way in. When we arrived our students in the first community had already gone home. This was discouraging, but since we didn’t have class, the pastor asked us to walk with him a ways further and pray for a lady who was very sick.
The house that this woman lived in was on the side of a cliff and completely bare inside and resembled something closer to a barn. There was a single cot and on it was a woman whose name was Maria. She resembled a victim of the holocaust. We found out that she was alone except for her two daughters. The youngest one cared for her mom and took care of the house responsibilities. The older one worked out in the fields. Maria had been sick for over a year and unable to walk for the past 6 months. They lived so far from any doctors that she hadn’t seen one in over a year. That doctor had prescribed some medicine a year ago, but they couldn’t afford the $30 necessary to buy it. We prayed for her and then we left her house with heavy hearts.
We sat and spoke with the pastor at the nearby church about taking her with us and putting her into the hospital. He said we could not do that without her husband’s permission since she was his property. (That last sentence made my blood boil a bit.) The husband had left her some time ago, but he needed to be found and asked first. We left to go and teach in the other Boaco community, but made plans to return the following Monday.
We had a lot of anxiety about what would happen on Monday. We were able to obtain permission from the community leaders to remove Maria and her daughters from the home even without the husband’s permission. There were witnesses to abuse that was happening in the home, but still we didn’t know if the husband would fight us on it. We brought along Saul Morales to lend us a little muscle if necessary. Again, the roads were impassible on Monday morning and the rivers we had to cross to get in were a bit deeper. We parked the truck and hiked the rest of the way up the mountain. Caleb, always with a sense of humor even in a stressful situation, played the mission impossible music during our hike to help inspire us.
We arrived at Maria’s house again and found her husband had packed her things and was allowing her to go without any hesitation. We were so thankful!
He even allowed her daughters to come with her and he helped us carry her down the mountain on the stretcher. Her little daughters walked hand in hand beside their mama all the way.
None of the family had even been out of the mountains of Boaco and they were so fascinated on the drive back by everything they saw. We took Maria directly to the hospital and checked her in. It was hard because Maria has no identification. She doesn’t even know her birthdate or how old she is. We determined that she was most likely in her early 20s. The youngest girl broke down when she saw her mama hooked up to an IV and blood pressure cuff. We found out that the girls would not be allowed to visit her once she was admitted so it was a tough goodbye. They didn't hold out much hope of seeing her alive again, and honestly, we didn't either.
The girls, Milena and Catia, came back to our house to spend the night. They had never before used running water, light switches, flushable toilets, or slept on a real mattress. They lost their minds when they saw the teddy bear collection our girls have. They were in love with “the room where it rains” or the shower. Their laughter was so sweet to hear after the tough year they have endured. We think the girls are 10 and 5, but they don’t know their birthdates or age for certain.
All of this happened the same week that Gavin went off to school and Amelie went into the hospital for a severe bacterial infection. I was thinking to myself that this may have been a mistake and too much to take on right now…but then I remembered that I wasn’t alone in this endeavor. Caleb and Eunice took the girls into their house even though their space is already so limited. The girls were given new clothes, shoes, and toys from members of the church. Mayra cooked for them and started them in preschool for the first time. Two women from our church agreed to stay at the hospital with Maria day and night (a requirement since there isn’t enough nursing staff) and care for her. We really have a great team who are willing to put their lives on hold for each other and do whatever is required.
Maria was discharged from the hospital one week after entering it and moved into the Martin house. All of the tests came back negative for a severe illness and it looks as though her problems are just from malnutrition. Her liver and pancreas are swollen and she runs a fever from time to time. She is being treated for hepatitis among other things. She is so happy to be out of the hospital and with her girls again.
On September 14 we surprised Maria with a house of her own. She weighed a little over 50 pounds when we carried her off the mountain. Now she weighs over 80 pounds and can walk on her own! The house we found for her is being rented from a member of our church for just $21 a month. The team from The Summit Church in September bought furnishings and paint for the little house. It is simple (one room that is about 150 square feet), but it is 100 times more than what she had in Boaco.
September 14 is Independence Day in Nicaragua and it became Maria's own personal Independence Day as well. We don’t know if her husband and his family were starving her on purpose or what exactly happened. Our community and church here in Masatepe have welcomed them with open arms. She can now be found sitting in front of her little house looking at the flowers in her yard with the biggest smile. She even walked to church this morning (1/4 of a mile) on her own! It is really a miracle.
We are fortunate that the public health care system is free and there are not a lot of charges for her medical bills at the public hospital or the many tests they ran on her. The medicine and supplements that they are prescribing cost $120 a month though. We are also paying the 2 nurses from our church $1 per hour for caring for her. Maria still needs help eating, drinking, and walking to the bathroom. The nurses both come from very poor families and are so thankful to have this job. While this is a small amount, it adds up ($24 a day for the first month and $12 a day for the next few months). If you would like to sponsor a few days of her medical care or her medicine, you can contribute here: Donate online
In other news:
-We received exactly the right amount of funds needed to complete the house for Izador and Catalina.
New vs old
We told you about in our newsletter in June and you gave generously. The house was finished last week, but the family didn't move in. We were confused by this, but they told us that they wanted to first dedicate it to God publicly and thank Him for this blessing. So we planned a dedication ceremony and it was beautiful. There is a video from the dedication below.
-The Conquerors International Strength Team was here the first week of August. They were a huge blessing to us because they were invited into the public schools to perform where dozens of kids were saved. Iglesia Bethania was able to reach out to these kids and invite them back to our church to be discipled and mentored. These doors would not have been open to us otherwise.
-We were able to offer self-defense classes for the first time in our town during the month of August. We have been praying for about a year for someone to come and teach a course in self-defense. There are so many assaults that happen within a few block radius of the church. Thank you Will Smith for sharing your skills with us, even if you might have taken Zika home as a souvenir.
Please keep our family in your prayers: Gavin is now at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and beginning his studies. Amelie spent some time in the hospital for an intestinal infection, but she is home now and recovering. She is not yet 100% and we are waiting for some test results to come in.
If you would like to send Gavin a note at school, his new address is: 305 Beets Hall, Calvin College, 3201 E. Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.