Is There Any Hope for Us?
Reva Lachica Moore
I opened the JPEG attachment in the e-mail that I received from Pastor Ruben Villanueva. Three sets of pleading eyes as dark as pitch were staring at me. Fear and despair showed in their blank stares and shook up my whole being. Oh God, have mercy on these people! I cried to Him. Their haunting eyes interrupted what I was doing, so I called Ruben in Manila right away.
"Is it OK with Shari for you to have people stay in your house all the time?" I asked Ruben.
"Oh yes, it's OK. We want to help so anybody is welcome to stay with us," he answered.
In the past years, Ruben and his wife had housed many folks who needed a place while in Manila. And lately, their place had become a haven for down-trodden folks. There is Jezreel, the 12-year-old who has a tumor on his face. Jezreel has been living with them for 9 months now while he awaits his free surgery in Loma Linda University Hospital. And just last week, 3 folks from Cagayancillo, Palawan came to stay with them.
After talking with me, Reuben handed the phone to Lilibeth, a 28-year-old mother. Lilibeth has a large tumor on her side and had been begging God to send her help.
"Ma'am Reva, imol gid kami (we are very poor). Madamo gid nga salamat sa imo bulig (Thank you very much for your help). May paglaum ayhan kami? (Is there any hope for us)?" Lilibeth anxiously spoke. She, together with 7-year-old Janice and her mother, arrived at Ruben's house after a three-day travel from their home in Cagayancillo.
"Lilibeth, pray that you will have your surgery soon and pray for God to send funds to pay for it." I tried to encourage her.
I could sense her fear. A mother of three children (ages 7, 3, and 2) she dreads her future. In her home in Cagayancillo, her husband fishes so they can have food. Life is very hard in this remote and small island where she was born. Cagayancillo is only half mile wide and 23 miles long and lies 175 miles east of Palawan. There is no running water. People bathe in the ocean and stores rain water in barrels for drinking and cooking. This is Lilibeth's second time only to leave her island and her first time to reach Manila. Lilibeth complained about a lot of pain, but I was encouraged to hear her say that she had put her trust in God.
Then I talked with Vivian, Janice's mother. She couldn't speak a word of English. All I understood of her dialect was her heartfelt gratitude for sending for Janice and for her to go to Manila. But tragedy struck! Four days after their arrival in Manila, Vivian received word that her father had a heart attack and had died. She had to rush back to Cagayancillo and left Janice in the care of Ruben and his wife.
In the past three years, I had dealt with many medical emergencies of ministers and their families. And even when there was no money, I trusted that God would send funds. Two months ago, after seeing the pictures of Janice and Lilibeth, I stepped out in faith and gave the OK for them to go to Manila since I couldn't get them off my mind. Ruben, whose life's dream is to have an orphanage, likes to help anybody who needs help, so he welcomed them with open arms.
Often, only one boat travels once a month from Cagayancillo to Iloilo. But due to the gigantic waves during the month of December, the boat couldn't travel. So we waited and waited. Finally, the boat was able to travel and the two patients, including Janice's mother, were given seats in the 50-passenger boat. Twenty four hours later, they reached Iloilo. Reuben traveled to Iloilo to meet them. The 3 passengers slept all night at the boat dock until Reuben arrived. Another 18 hours of boat travel later, they reached Manila.
The following day, the long, harrowing wait in the heat of the sun followed. Ruben took them to line up in a Charity Hospital in Manila. This is the cheapest way for them to get medical help. Unfortunately, even if it's a Charity Hospital, they still charge a lot of money though less than in other hospitals.
A long line had already formed before they got there. They were number 75, and if they couldn't be seen that day, they would have to line up again the following day. Fortunately, after 2 hours of waiting, someone offered help and got them in.
The doctors have seen both Janice and Lilibeth. Janice's cat scan showed "encephalocele" - a condition where brain tissue pushes through a bony defect (a hole) on the skull. She needs her surgery very soon. On the other hand, Lilibeth will be having a biopsy next week. The oncologist has suggested chemotherapy first before surgery to shrink the tumor. And now we are waiting for God to send more funds so the two can have their surgeries.
Don't you want to have a part in giving them back their smiles besides their surgeries? You can help Lilibeth and Janice have their surgeries through your donations and prayers.
Imagine your joy in giving each of them a new life. Please write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 225-664-8174.
Please send your donations to: Adopt a Minister International. We will give you a tax-deductible receipt. Thank you very much!
Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"