A Heart in His Hands
In December of last year, I received this message from Hector:
“Hi Gloria and Art
Today was very difficult for me on the court. My heart broke.
Today a young boy that I had never seen before arrived on the court. He was sitting alone watching the game and the other children play. He went on the synthetic grass and touched the ball and played for just a moment. Within two minutes, he passed out and turned purple and could not breathe; his fingers were purple. I grabbed him and sat him up, his heart was beating fast.
I asked one of the other kids if he knew where this boy lived and he went to go get his mother. His mother told me that all the young boy wants is to play on the soccer court.
Once he was home, I went to go see him and he was crying saying all that he wanted was to be able to play. He couldn’t hold back his pain and I could feel his pain so I promised him a soccer ball. I went back to the court and gave him the best ball we had.”
This is how Mario became part of our life on the soccer court. His mom moved with him and his brother to the island to escape the violence on mainland Honduras and over the last nine months, we have learned his story and the heaviness his mother’s heart has carried worrying about her son.
When Mario was born, his mother noticed he had a blue tint to him and his breathing was different. She took him to the hospital where the doctor told her to go home and prepare herself because her son would most likely live only a few days because he had a problem with his heart. If by chance he did make it, his life expectancy would likely be no more than seven years (Mario is now twelve). She says she told herself that the doctor is not God and her child was in God’s hands, but admits she has lived every day wondering if her child would die. She has done her best to care for him with very limited resources.
After some research and speaking to the local pediatrician, C4C learned that the only hospital that could treat a child like Mario was located on the mainland in Tegucigalpa. The journey to the hospital involves a 50-minute ferry ride, a seven- hour bus ride, and overnight motel stays, which has simply been out of reach for this mom. Although medical assistance is not part of the C4C mission, Mario was now one of our boys and through private donations, we have been able to coordinate three different trips to the hospital over the last nine months. We have exhausted all options the country has to offer, which is limited for complicated cases of pediatric cardiology.
In response to a request to the women of Chets Creek Church to pray for Mario, a lady by the name of Dana responded that she had heard about a pediatric cardiologist in Jacksonville, Florida, who provided care to underprivileged children from around the world. She directed me to the Patron of the Hearts Facebook page. I reached out to the organization with the information I had about Mario, and his case was accepted. UF Health and Patron of the Hearts would provide the medical care and housing at Ronald McDonald house, but we would be responsible for their passports, visas and travel costs. Over the last six months, we have learned so much about how to walk a person through getting a passport in another country, working with the US Embassy on the medical visa process, and dealing with Honduran lawyers regarding parental consent documents. We have entered this journey completely blind and uneducated on the process, relying on God to direct us at each step, moment by moment.
Dr. Ettedgui, with Patron of the Hearts, says that Mario appears to be a complicated medical case but feels that a full medical evaluation is warranted before a final decision is made. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but one thing we do know is that we wouldn’t even be at the point of bringing Mario to the United States on a medical tourist visa without God’s hand opening door after door.
The next door we are attempting to open is to bring Mario and his mom to the United States. His medical visa has a short window and is only good for twelve weeks. Four of the C4C board members will be in Roatan in September to do some property and program development so the plan is to accompany Mario and his mom, Marta, to the U.S. when we return home.
Please pray with us for this sweet child whose smile lights up his eyes and the whole room. May his dream to play soccer come true on this side of the heaven.