|Santi, my CHP kiddo|
As low points go, it was low. We celebrated the end of 2013 with the happy news that our family was finally expanding. But the first week of 2014, the news was different—another miscarriage. We couldn’t seem to shake 2013 after all. We approached the one year anniversary of Isaac’s heart surgery and traveling to Atlanta for the worst day of our lives.
I felt like I was in a hole. Stuck. Our family shrinking—again—at a time we’d hoped it would get bigger. Trapped in January. I had this suffocating desire to escape, with the simultaneous knowledge that I could never escape myself—my rejecting, ill body. Still, I wanted to flee, especially approaching Isaac’s surg-iversary. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to be around people, and felt totally demotivated and helpless. I hate feeling helpless. I organized the kitchen. I researched organizations for heart patients.
Shortly after Isaac’s surgery I’d read an article about the Samaritan’s Purse organization Children’s Heart Project. It coordinates surgeries for kids with heart defects in third world countries. Without the surgeries, the kids will die, but there are no doctors or facilities to perform the complicated surgeries in some countries. Children’s Heart Project (CHP) screens kids in country, gets them visas, finds hospitals to donate surgeon time, and flies them to North America for lifesaving surgery. I couldn’t even finish reading the article about it last year. It was too raw. Our hugest praise after Isaac’s diagnosis was that we had been blessed with the resources to get him the life-saving surgery he needed. My heart completely broke for moms without that option. I set the article aside, but didn’t forget. Then, in the pit of dread approaching the surgiversary I researched the organization again.
Online, people were encouraged to help by praying, fundraising, and—for parents of heart patients—talk to their cardiologists or surgeons about getting surgeries donated. I want to do that for Isaac, I thought, to thank God for saving his life. I didn’t want to focus on the heartbreak of 2013; I wanted to move forward trusting God, come what may. I filled out a form with a little bit about Isaac, our desire to help, and offering to do whatever was needed. They responded immediately with more info about the program and asking about Isaac’s doctors and surgeon.
Then, a couple weeks later, I was delighted by an unexpected email that popped into my inbox. The travel coordinator asked me to apply to be a transporter. Doctors or pediatric nurses meet the heart patients in their home country and transport them, their mom, and a translator to the North American city where they’ll have surgery. Then afterwards, they need someone else to escort them home.
The purpose is twofold: 1. Many patients and their families have never flown at all, much less internationally, and 2. to get their visas approved with the embassy, CHP guarantees they’ll be accompanied at all times.
So they need people with flexible schedules, who are comfortable traveling internationally, who preferably have some link to heart surgery, who can go to the patient’s home country. It includes navigating airports, paying for meals and keeping track of receipts, and generally assisting the group in transit.
It’s still hard for me to imagine there is usefulness at the intersection of ‘spent too much time in airports’ and ‘kid had heart surgery,’ but YES, of course I will apply!
If I’d received the CHP invitation to apply any earlier, I wouldn’t have been interested because I had just had a miscarriage, or was pregnant, or was sick, or was quarantined with the Goodbaby, or was in the middle of his surgery, or had no connection to heart surgery. I managed to apply in the small window before I found out I was pregnant again.
Anyway, surprise! I got accepted! I applied in January and found out in early March—the day Santi arrived in Canada—that I would get to transport him home post op. I’ve been praying for him ever since!
And that is the full explanation behind why I went to Canada and Bolivia this week. More on Santi’s story and CHP in Bolivia once I get home. For now, I’m waiting in the Miami airport for my final flight home. Can’t wait to see my boys!
“He heals the broken hearted,
He binds up all their wounds.”