Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Felipe




The Knott's April Update

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Felipe


"Hey DJ," Sara calls from around the corner of an adobe hut, "come see this."


I pause from digging through a duffle bag of medical supplies. Our medical team is visiting a village called Vacas for the first time and the whole community has showed up for medical or dental attention.

"I think he has a cleft palate," Sara continues, pointing to a scar on the 3 year-old's upper lip.

"Can we get a picture?" I ask, pulling out my cell phone. Sara starts making open mouth faces at the little boy, trying to draw him into the game. In seconds we have a picture of his open mouth, confirming Sara's suspicions.

We leave the family wondering for a moment while we confer in English. Sara has been helping with these surgeries in Santa Cruz and knows exactly what we need to do. We immediately concoct a plan to get little Felipe to the city for surgery.

Most of us like the unknown in very, very small doses if at all. When Sara and I suggest that Felipe's parents, Guillermo and Alicia, leave everything familiar and travel with strangers from their isolated mountain home to the big city, they are fearful and hesitant. Will we leave them there? Will they need to pay the doctors? How long will it take? Will we bring them back to Vacas? Twice before I have made such invitations to the rural shepherd folk of western Bolivia without success. This time, to my surprise and with the prodding of friends and relatives, they accept. Since there is no cell signal in Vacas we set an exact date for when I will return with Sara and my visiting Mom to pick them up. Little do we know what we are asking of them.

"How are they doing?" I ask Sara as we bounce down the narrow mountain road. I'm in a hurry because we had hoped to leave at 6am. It's been a long day of decisions, delays and changing plans. Now at 5pm we still have 10 hours of mountain roads to traverse before reaching Cochabamba. "I think she is drinking something...ummm…" Sara's sentence trails off. I check my mirror to see what she means. Alicia is holding half of an old soda bottle to her mouth. A strong odor fills the jeep and I pull over on the side of the road. Only 10 km into the trip, it seems we are on the brink of failure. Alicia has never been in a car before. Her face is expressionless but her wide eyes communicate terror. After a brief rest we continue slowly with frequent stops as the stress of the unknown takes its toll.

The following day, after spending part of the night in a health post along the way, we get Guillermo, Alicia, little Felipe and baby Rita settled in to an empty apartment where they will stay with Sara. They are relieved to be out of the bouncing jeep and settle gratefully onto mattresses on the floor. After a brief rest we head downtown for Felipe's pediatrician appointment. High rise office buildings, elevators and street crossings are confusing and scary. We are all relieved when I drop them back off at the apartment for the night.

The next morning brings X-rays, blood work and more stress. I'm watching closely, being familiar with the superstitions these country folk have about blood being drawn. I explain several times the how and why. Guillermo nods but their frozen expressions leave me guessing. Later Sara tells me that back in the privacy of the apartment she had her hands full trying to calm their fears. Finally all is finished, Felipe is declared to possess "incredible stability" and he is cleared for the upcoming surgery in May.

With the nose of the Jeep pointed back into the mountains, some anti-nausea medicine and a lot more confidence, the twelve-hour return trip goes seamlessly. As evening approaches we are sharing a last meal at the end of the road before they walk the final 7 miles of trail. Without Sara, who has returned to Santa Cruz, I'm left to do the negotiating and ask the big question. Do they want me to come pick them up in May for the surgery? "It will be at least three weeks," I explain, hoping I sound casual.

They confer in their native tongue for a few minutes. Although I can't understand, I can guess what they are discussing. Who will watch Felipe's older siblings and the 150 sheep for such a long time? Is Alicia willing to travel again? I wait anxiously for the answer. After all the discomfort and fear of this trip they could very easily say no. Finally Guillermo smiles broadly, "Yes, we will go."

The sun slips behind a ridge and the thin mountain air chills noticeably as Mom and I watch them pack their things into bundles to carry home. Though nothing is said, they seem relieved and pleased about their decision, possibly as much as we are. Alicia takes Felipe by the hand, little Rita bouncing on her back as always. "Will you make it home alright?" I ask. "It will be dark in only two hours."

Guillermo grins as he swings a huge bundle of mandarin oranges, bread, donated baby clothes and other items onto his back. "Of course," he assures me as he ties the bundle around his shoulders, "this is the Campo." I smile too, knowing exactly what he means…they are already home.

To be continued…

Quick Fact: To complete this pre-op visit to the city we drove 50 hours on dirt roads, hiked 15 miles and slept out 3 nights. The Super Cub could have completed the same task (two round trips) in a mere 3 hours of flight time, landing near their house on an open hilltop.

DJ, Jodi & Hadassah
Click here to read more about Felipe by Sara Ross
Facebook: GMA Bolivia Highlands
GospelAviation.org

Super Cub
1st Phase:
Airframe Kit from Javron Aviation

$32,709 raised!
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Vehicle

Campaign

$15,000 donated!

Goal reached! We are hoping to spend around $13,000 on a larger, diesel vehicle. The extra $2000 will cover tires and fix-ups. Please pray for God to show us His will and timing. In the meanwhile some friends have sacrificially offered to loan their vehicle when necessary.

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 Thank You!
1. Expenses for Felipe's Pre-Op visit to Cochabamba

2. Visa paperwork costs for DJ & Jodi.

3. Super Cub Total up to $32,709!


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