Gabby Entry #14

"Miracles Do Happen"

In November 2003 on my second mission trip in Guatemala, I visited the Peten with a group from Middle Tennessee.  A day after trudging an hour through mud to get to one village, we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived in Chinatal and it was accessible by bus.  After spending some time helping Karen with all the scabies and malnourished children, we were told there was a baby, only 3-days old, that hadnít eaten.  We were asked if we could go see her.  We went.  

Sandra with her 2-day old baby

The unnamed baby had a cleft palate and couldnít nurse.  She was small with dark skin, dark eyes and tuft of black hair.  Karen showed Sandra, the 16-year old mom how to express milk and I helped by translating and smiling a lot.  The family was very grateful for the help and joked that they would name the baby after me, Gabriela.   
We left wondering if the newborn would make it through the night. Karen and I thought we might be able to find some supplies at a local pharmacy to help with nursing as well as vitamins for the baby and for Sandra.  We returned the following day to find that she was still alive and had a name - Jocelin.  We gave them all the things we had found: a glass, hand-held manual milk expresser as well as baby and adult vitamins.  We left again hoping and praying that Jocelin would survive.

Baby Jocelin  2-days old

Karen returned home after the week with plans to help get baby Jocelin in line to have surgery to repair her lip and cleft palate.  She was able to get in touch with all the right people and we were all excited to hear that progress might be made.  We heard that an April surgery in Antigua could be scheduled if Jocelin was growing well and was healthy. 

In early 2004 we received word from fellow missionaries Roger and Gloria Marriott who were working in the Peten.  They informed us that Jocelin and Sandra had visited a regional hospital and Jocelin was not currently a candidate for surgery because she was underweight, had a bacterial stomach bug and was malnourished.  My heart sank at the news but three was still a glimmer of hope.  Roger and Gloria arranged to get all the necessary medicines and vitamins she would need, 7 or 8 in all.  The doctors at the local clinic rattled off all the instructions and someone helped to write it all down.

That was the last I had heard about Jocelin until June 26, 2004. 

That day, Selena met up with our mission group in Antigua and told us that Jocelin and Sandra were in the city at this exact same time and she was having her surgery!  What a miracle!  Not only was it a miraculous that Jocelin had improved enough to have this surgery.  What's more, the miracle was that her mother was able to travel with her 8month-old daughter for 10 hours to get the hospital.  It was a journey that led her from her tiny little aldea and her small wooden, dirt floor house with a hammock for a bed - to Antigua, a beautiful colonial city filled with tourists, charm and the Hermano Pedro Hospital. 

Baby Jocelin, 8 months old

Martin and I decided that we would go visit and, much to our surprise, not only were they there, but the surgery was completed and they let us in to see her! 

We visited Jocelin and Sandra as they were surrounded by English-speaking doctors with translators. I was able to get a photo of her before they put the tape on her lip that covered up her stitches.  We left Antigua on cloud nine, knowing that Jocelin was being released from the hospital only hours after we left to go to the Casa de Fe, a Ronald McDonald House-type place where they were to stay for free until her follow-up visit on the 30th.

Sandra & Baby Jocelin w/ our little gift for her

Who would have ever guessed that two short visits on a hot November day in Guatemala would lead to this?  A couple gringas visit a one-room stick house with a dirt floor and a open fire stove and found a lot more than a little baby in need.  We found love and hope and inspiration to continue believing that the little things we do, really do make a difference.  So maybe we didn't save the world but we helped to give a girl named Jocelin the chance to do the same for someone someday.

Karen with baby in another village

Karen teaching health promoters to use stethoscope

Visiting a local school