Exactly two weeks ago we helped two families experience the joyful reunion of a lifetime. Melody Steimle, our host mom for Astrid, accompanied our little patients back to their home country of Ecuador. I hope you are as blessed as I was to read Melody’s report about her travel. Here is the email I received this week:
Hello again, I’m back and have caught up on sleep enough to be able to write legibly, I think!
Everything went more than smoothly, it was incredible! I see God doing so many good things through this outreach to these children…affecting not just their physical lives, but planting eternal seeds in their hearts that are already bearing fruit and affecting their families as well.
To start at the beginning…..there were many traveling mercies, too many to count, of people being gracious and helping us make our connecting flights, etc. One of the TSA security workers was so moved when she heard the story that she took down Rooftop’s info to be able to make a donation!
Then, arriving in Ecuador, being received with much rejoicing by crowds of family and friends. Many teary eyes and tight hugs and laughter all
Jhonnatan with his papa
around. What a beautiful reunion, I feel privileged to have been able to witness it….Thank you!
Jhonnotan’s family had traveled far to be there, and turned right around and drove home that very same night. Fortunately, I got a few photos before they left. They planned to present at the US embassy in Quito upon their return to Riobamba.
Jhonnatan with his family in the airport. A joyful father welcomes his son.
Astrid’s family graciously received me in their humble home were we spent the next 3 days out and about, first to the embassy to “check in”, then on to a series of family parties where Astrid was received like returning royalty. It was a joy to see her in her own environment, surrounded by much love and support from family, friends and neighbors.
Now for the really good part. When Astrid was staying with the Parkers, they started a daily devotional book in Spanish with her, which we continued, and it led to some really deep discussions about God, his Son Jesus and what Faith in Him means. Then as a going home present, we gave her a children’s Bible in Spanish, encouraging her to read it and find out for herself more about God and His beautiful story of salvation. When I was staying with her family, I saw some instant fruit from what so many here had planted.
She insisted on praying before meals, making everyone stop with their mouths full, hold hands, then pray to give God thanks for his blessings. Her parents were too shy to pray out loud themselves, as their religious practices included mostly passive participation in the Catholic church, but they seemed proud and pleased to see Astrid leading the prayers.
Astrid at home with her family.
Then, her mom found the Bible we gave Astrid, and after determining that it wasn’t conflictive with their Catholic beliefs, only the Word of God, she started pouring over it, never having had their own Bible in the house. I showed her how the daily devotional could be supplemented with the different reference scriptures, showing her how to find them using the index, and she took to it as seriously as Astrid’s daily physical therapy routines. I feel confident that God has started a very good work in Astrid and her family, plans that go way beyond her physical needs and reach into the eternal.
After my trip to the mountains and Cuenca, I spent the last day with
Astrid and her family again in Guayaquil, giving them some good contacts for continuing prosthetic care should she need it before her return to Shriners. The same day, as God’s perfect timing would have it, the director of El Cielo Para Los Niños, Dr. Zorayda Figueroa had just returned from Costa Rica and I was able to not only get the files on more needy kids, but have a good talk with her about their mission, goals and vision. She definitely loves the Lord and knows how to share it! We also talked about visas for the kids, and she informed me that due to their long history and excellent reputation as a foundation, they have an “open file” going with the US consulate and don’t have issues getting visas for the kids they help, or support from the minister of health of Ecuador. The biggest barrier is getting receiving help in the US with doctors who can collaborate pro bono, and of course host families. So, what Rooftop 519 is doing has her very excited to work together to help more children, all to the Glory of God.
So, that’s a summary of a lot of activity in a short amount of time. I would be happy to talk more about the trip and answer more questions in person…so give me a call when it’s convenient and we can go over more of the details. Also, I have posted many of the pictures to my facebook page, but I can burn some CDs and send them to you if you would like hard copies. Just let me know.Thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to follow these kids all the way through the process and see them safely return home. I feel it was a great benefit for all, especially to get to personally know the people running the charity there.
I have had a lot of experience with medical missions, and what I’m seeing you guys doing really excites me and I’m blessed to be a part of it.
Be encouraged that God is doing a good work through you… I feel like it’s just beginning!
Love in Christ,
Melody and Astrid in Ecuador.
Thank you to all who are a part of Astrid and Jhonnata’s stories. Much thanks to Shriner’s Hospital in Portland for donating all of this incredible work.
Ditto the Love in Christ, and like Melody, I believe this is just the beginning.