Although a Bolivian woman faced the toughest moment of her life when she found out her child needed heart surgery, she chose to rely on God
By Chelsea Pardue, a Samaritan’s Purse staff writer who transported a child from Texas back home to Bolivia after he had life-saving heart surgery
As a writer, I’m constantly thinking about the best angle for a story. Often the work of Samaritan’s Purse makes it easy. Through our work, we introduce people to Jesus Christ, and many times they take a step of faith to believe in Him for the first time. That’s always a good slant for a story.
So when I found out that Adela was already a Christian, I have to admit that my spirits sank just a bit. Of course I was glad to know that she had that hope as her son went through life-saving heart surgery with Children’s Heart Project, but at the same time, I no longer knew what my angle would be.
I dug a bit deeper. Was Adela only a nominal Christian? Did she waver in her faith? Did she have any problems in her marriage? Was her husband not a Christian? The answer to everything was no, but I did find out that Adela came to the U.S. without the blessing of many of her friends and, initially, her husband.
When Emibal was first accepted for surgery, she was overjoyed. But her husband was devastated. He hadn’t put the issue in God’s hands, and he was diligently searching for natural remedies to heal his son.
“When we went to the screening, we were very suspicious,” he said. “We were not confident on what you were doing and the way you wanted to help us because we wanted to find the best way to help my son. We were not sure about Emibal’s future, if he could live or die during the heart surgery.”
As Adela furtively prayed to God to make the correct path clear, her husband continued trying to collect bat’s blood and dew from a town called Potosí to offer to Emibal. But nothing worked, and his condition deteriorated. Finally, after watching Adela trust God, her husband fell to his knees and prayed. He allowed Adela to leave, although many of their friends still said it was a bad idea.
Inspiration Despite Difficulty
God certainly led Adela. He led her from her home in La Paz, Bolivia, to Texas where Emibal was able to receive surgery to repair three holes in his heart. The surgeon said that without the surgery, Emibal likely would not have survived even five more years. As the doctor explained the risk of the surgery, as he said it was the riskiest operation he had performed all year, Adela cried. But afterward, she prayed, and she stayed calm. When she called her husband that night, she wasn’t upset. She continued to trust God.
I saved Adela’s interview for last. First I interviewed the mother of her host family in Texas. Then I interviewed the interpreter who had traveled with her. Both of them continually talked about Adela’s patience and trust in God.
“She is a really strong faith woman,” said Karla, the interpreter on the trip and Adela’s biggest support during and after the surgery. “She has been a blessing more for me than I have been for her. It’s incredible how much patience she has, and she’s loving and caring. She’s a blessing for everyone who knows her. You can see that she really trusts the Lord.”
I was intrigued with this woman who was an inspiration to everyone despite going through the most difficult time of her life. I traveled back to her home in Bolivia with her and Emibal, and I watched as she patiently took care of all of his needs. I saw her patience as we waited in long security lines, but I also saw that she was ready to get back to her family.
When we were going through the last bit of security in Bolivia, I was stopped so the guards could check my bags. Adela looked at me and pointed at the frosted sliding glass doors. I nodded, and she ran out. I didn’t see her reunion with her family, but I spent the entire day with them. I saw their love for each other and her husband’s amazing hospitality as he served food to me all day.
During my interview with Adela, I asked what she thought about her husband’s insistence on looking for natural remedies rather than relying on God. She laughed and said she still relied on God and prayed that her husband would come around. She waited patiently and was rewarded with God’s faithfulness.
After watching this family for a day, I knew I didn’t need a spiritual angle for my story, although Adela’s husband presented a great one when he talked about how he has changed through the surgery process. Adela’s sweet spirit and encouragement toward everyone was enough of a story. By that point, I was wondering if Adela was some sort of saint, but then, she said something that made me realize she had grown in her spiritual journey too.
“The way that God has been with me all the time next to me, it was awesome,” she said. “I’ve been learning a lot more about God and His Word.”