This month we had the pleasure of welcoming back our co-founder, Brenda, with a group from her church, Good Shepherd, in Lexington, Kentucky. Their group came down and spent a week bonding with our kids as well as fixing up our home. Their group made our home even more beautiful by enhancing every wall with a new coat of paint. After they were done painting in the mornings, they led VBS with the kids in the afternoons. The kids had all kinds of songs, bible stories, crafts, and games to look forward to when they arrived home from school every day. Along with their group came a doctor who blessed our kids with medical check-ups.
The biggest project the group took on was the construction of a study room for the older kids. This room is such a crucial space to have in our home, as it gives our older children a place of their own. Not only is this study room a place where they can study and focus on their school work, away from the chaos of the smaller children, but also it is also a private, quiet place for them to relax and listen to music, play games, practice piano, etc. They finally have a place where they can sit back and be teenagers, away from the running, playing children. The group painted the walls, put together furniture, put up blinds and cork-board, and constructed desk areas for the children in the study room.We are so thankful for all the hard work their group did improving our home and building bonds with our children.
Since 2011 we have had the privilege of partnering with The Shalom Foundation to get medical assistance for our children. In February of last year, they helped coordinate Juan Jose and Carlos’ dental surgeries (read about it here, here, and here), something we had been trying to do for more than 2 years. Since then they have brought teams of physical and occupational therapists to see Carlos, have done medical check ups on our children, and have been helped purchased clothing and even beds for new children when they come. Already, they have been incredibly supportive of our ministry and last week they were there for us again with a team of surgeons that removed Miguel’s tonsils.
We found out about Miguel’s enlarged tonsils back in 2010 when Rebecca’s mother, Ruth Ann, came and did dental work on our children. As she was working on Miguel she noticed that his tonsils were severely swollen, but thankfully not infected. In fact, she said that in all her years of practice, she had never seen someone with tonsils that large! Over the following months we looked into doing the surgery at a private hospital but they were much too expensive. We even tried to contact surgical teams that were coming down to Guatemala but they were working outside the city and didn’t want to risk operating since tonsillectomies can bleed out and there weren’t hospitals nearby. Thankfully, in December of last year, the Shalom Foundation informed us of a team of ENT’s that were coming in January to do surgeries at their recently constructed hospital, the Moore Pediatric Surgical Center. We got Miguel signed up and a few short weeks later it was the day of his surgery.
Ruth took Miguel bright and early to their hospital, but he was the last person to be scheduled since they were going by age. He had not eaten anything as of lunch the day before and by the time he was up, he was hungry and bored! Of course, he was also a bit nervous, but we had been praying with him a lot over the past days and that really helped to comfort him. Once he went into the surgery, it took about an hour and 15 minutes until he was out. Amazingly, even these doctors said he had the biggest tonsils they had ever removed before! Thankfully, they also went ahead and took out his adenoids, something else that was swollen and making it hard for him to breath.
Because the surgery happened so late in the day, the doctors kept Miguel over night. Ruth, Diana and I had been with him throughout the day, so Blanca, the cook, came and stayed the night with him. The next morning we picked him up and brought him home. When we opened the door, all the children were there waiting and had made get well soon cards for him. It was a very touching moment and it’s amazing to see the love the children have for one another.
We want to thank all of you who were praying for Miguel before, during, and after his surgery. His recovery has been without incident and he was back at school the following week. And of course, we also want to thank The Shalom Foundation for their support and help with this entire process. They have been instrumental in providing the medical care our children need and we are eternally grateful.
As I wrote before, over the past two years we have tried and tried to get medical help for our children but to no avail. However, through a series of God inspired events and connections, that all changed last month. In the course of just one day, we were able to establish a relationship withThe Shalom Foundation and from there other connections grew. Within a week we had strategized a plan to get our children medical attention taking advantage of surgical and medical teams that were visiting Guatemala. I could spend a few paragraphs narrating an account of every email, meeting, and phone call, but suffice to say, the Lord was in this and He brought it all together in a perfectly knitted tapestry in His timing, starting with Carlos.
Carlos is an incredibly bright 7 year child, but he has Cerebral Palsy. Like many children that have CP, the tendons in his legs tighten as he gets older. Specifically, the tendons in his Achilles heel, hamstring, and groin area are tighter than normal. Having the tendon in his Achilles heel tight means his feet don’t form 90 degree angles with his legs making him walk on his toes. His hamstrings are tight which doesn’t allow him to stretch his leg completely, making him walk with his knees bent. Finally, the tendons in his groin area are pulling his legs together (called scissoring), causing this legs to overlap one another. Eventually, the tightening in this area can pull his legs out of his hip socket.
Despite having CP, Carlos has made great progress in the past like learning how to walk and go to the bathroom by himself. Through physical therapy and a lot of determination, Carlos has made the best out of his situation. But as we think long term and work toward Carlos’ independence, we know that his best option will be surgically correcting his problem and last week we were able to take the first steps in this direction.
After an hour drive north, Carlos and I arrived at a small village called San Raymundo. Here a medical team organized through Refuge International was seeing patients and doing surgery. Among the doctors was an orthopedic surgeon that had agreed to see Carlos and give us his evaluation. After a short wait, Dr. Stanley took us into a room and began his evaluation on Carlos. The first thing he noticed was that Carlos was remarkably flexible despite having CP. It was obvious that the physical therapy that we do with Carlos twice a day is helping him tremendously and Dr. Stanley congratulated us on it. However it was also obvious that Carlos needs surgery. While there are other options like botox treatment, Carlos has reached a stage where it would no longer be beneficial, and surgery is the only option. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on the team so we weren’t able to get anything done, but the evaluation from the doctor was extremely helpful and pointed us in the right direction.
Two days after taking Carlos to his evaluation, we had our dental surgery appointment for Juan Jose and Carlos. Coming into this appointment both of these boys had serious dental problems that have always been a concern for us. After a dental check up last year, we discovered that Juan Jose had more than 20 cavities and Carlos around 14! On top of this, due to the severity and amount of work that needed to be done, both boys would need to put under general anesthesia. When we first began to look into, some dentists were estimating the entire process would cost around $4000! Of course, you can’t put a price on personal health, and we tried to raise the funds, but the complete money never came it. However, God is good, and His plan far surpasses what we can imagine, and as we took Juan Jose and Carlos into the dentist office, we knew we would walk out without having to pay a penny!
At 7:30 am we entered the office and by 11:10 am they were done. Overall, Juan Jose received 13 metal crowns, 5 pulpotomies, and 7 extractions while Carlos received 7 crowns, 3 fillings, 2 sealants, and 4 extractions. Both of our children did very well and were so brave. We couldn’t be prouder of them. (Below you can read the Facebook updates that I did during the entire event).
Looking forward, next week we have another appointment for Carlos to see a group of physical and occupational therapists from Belmont University. Hopefully they will have some leads on where we can get him surgery. We are also trying to find an ENT that will be able to remove Miguel’s tonsils since they are extremely large (but thankfully not infected).
Please continue to pray for our little ones as we do our best to provide for them all their health needs. This month has been such a blessing as we have stepped back and watched the Lord work. We are forever grateful to Him to orchestrated everything and to the many people that played a part in all of this. Here are a few of their names:
Thank you for your part in all of this.
Here’s a chronological list of all the updates we did on Facebook during Juan Jose and Carlos’ dental surgery. For more information, be sure to read the entire story here.
Today’s the day!! Carlos and Juan Jose have their dental surgery. I’m picking them up right now. Stay tuned for regular updates on the process.
6:40 – loaded in the van and heading to Ariden, the place they will be receiving their dental care. Be praying!
To give a bit more info on what’s happening today, both Juan Jose and Carlos have major dental problems. They probably have around 15-20 cavities each! Today, they will be put under general anesthesia and dental surgeons will be doing some extractions, fillings, and a lot of metal crowns. Please be praying!
7:30 – We’re here! Just waiting for the medical team to arrive. Carlos has volunteered to go first. He’s so brave!!
7:50 – Carlos went in about 10 minutes and he is now under anesthesia. Diana and I were in there with him as the anesthesiologist put him under. Everything is going great.
8:50 – Carlos has been in the OR for about an hour now. One of the assistants came out and said he was doing well! I’m not quite sure how long this will take, but I know there is a lot of work to be done. Thanks for all the prayers!!
9:00 – Carlos is out!!!!! Everything went perfectly. The dentist did 7 crowns, 3 fillings, and 2 sealants. He’s in recovery now and is still a bit out of it due to the anesthesia, but he’s doing pretty well!!
9:10 – Juan Jose just went in and he’s under anesthesia now! He’ll probably take a little bit longer because he is in a lot worse condition than Carlos. Keep praying!!
I forgot to mention that they also extracted a few of Carlo’s teeth…4 in all.
Here’s a “before” picture of Juan Jose.
Here’s a “before” picture of Carlos.
While we wait I want to send a special thanks to Diana who is here with us. She did an incredible job of keeping Juan Jose “entertained” as he waited his turn, and is now really helping Carlos feel better now that he is out. Thank you honey!!!
Here’s a smiling Carlos after his operation! It’s hard to tell but you can see the crowns on the sides. Barney is keeping him company!
10:10 – Juan Jose is done! They are waking him up now, but everything went well. He had a lot more work done: 13 crowns, 5 pulpotomies, and 7 extractions. That’s a lot of work!!
Here’s a quick photo of Juan Jose. He’s still a bit out of it but recovering quickly.
Here’s Juan Jose and Carlos with the team of doctors that worked on them. We are so thankful to Ariden and the amazing work they did.
Our two brave boys.
11:10 – and we’re done!!! We are leaving the clinic now and are heading home. Our boys we’re so brave and did a fantastic job. Now, lots of cold popsicles!!! Thank you all for your prayers.
It’s been an exciting few hours! As many of you know we’ve been trying very hard for the past year to get surgical and dental care for some of our children. Miguel has severely swollen tonsils, Juan Jose and Carlos have major tooth decay in most of their teeth, and Carlos needs surgery due to his cerebral palsy.
This morning I contacted a few friends at the Shalom Foundation (www.theshalomfoundation.org) and almost immediately got responses back regarding medical and dental teams that are coming. Already, the Shalom Foundation has put me in contact with a dentist that is coming in February and hopefully we will be able to get their teeth extracted (They will need to be under general anesthesia due to the amount of work that needs to be done.)
But the excitement doesn’t stop there! In addition to this, Laura Hernon, founder of Link For Health (www.linkforhealth.org) has profiled our children on their website to raise support for them and already she has said they are making progress in supporting Carlos and Miguel! Incredible! What a blessed morning it’s been! She has also profiled our Children’s Home on our website that you can see here: http://www.linkforhealth.org/2011/01/hope-for-tomorrow
This is all very exciting news and it’s wonderful to see how people and organizations can join together to help each other.
I’ll keep you posted on updates as they come along.
I was at the home a few days ago and it seems like every time I go, little Moses is learning something new. When Jennifer and the team was here two weeks ago he began to lift himself up on his little arms, and now just a week later, I caught him crawling commando style (funny thing, I thought it was called Army style!) Anyway, it’s just another example of the incredible growth and development of our children and I wanted to post a little video here of Moses in action! Enjoy!
This past week we began the, uh, fun, process of taking our children to the dentist. Unfortunately, up until now, our children have never seen a dentist. They have never had a check up or never had their teeth cleaned. That’s amazing (and saddening) when you realize that our oldest child is 12 years old! But as hopefully you’ve been able to see by now, Hope For Tomorrow is a different kind of children’s home, and this type of neglect isn’t acceptable to us. Dental hygiene is an important part of a persons health, so with that in mind Diana and I called up our personal dentist to see if he could help.
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