By JoEllen Reaves, Covenant missionary to Mexico
“Open my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus. To reach out and touch Him, to say that I love Him.”
A few weeks ago we concluded a mission trip with a group from North Park University (NPU) in Chicago, IL.
It was a health screening ministry. We host quite a few mission groups that are interested in doing community health screenings and theyare always very rewarding. The majority of the time, what we see are anemia (in both children and adults), LOTS of cavities, high blood pressure, and high glucose levels. These conditions are important and do need follow up care.
However, every once in a while something really unusual happens and that is what occurred the week that the mission group from NPU was in Oaxaca, Mexico.
My job for the week was to enter all the data from the health screenings into the computer so that there could be followup. Not very glamorous, but needed. As I sat at the computer one morning watching the various health screening stations around me (height and weight, blood pressure, anemia testing, glucose testing, etc.), a Oaxacan came up to me and said that we had to make sure that we saw a little girl that had just come into the building.
This little girl, along with her father, and the pastor of the church the girl attended, had walked two hours and then taken a bus for another 12 hours because they had heard that a health team was going to be in town. What made this 10-year-old girl unusual? Since the age of five, Maria Yuridia has basically been blind in one eye and had limited sight in the other. She had been to the doctor, but no one could figure out what was wrong with her eyes.
Covenant missionary, Doctor Cindy Hoover, had just received a new ophthalmoscope, with help from a supporting church, and this was the first mission trip where she was using it. When Cindy looked into Maria Yuridia’s eye, she saw a large mass that could have been anything from a tumor to a cataract. Cindy called the pastor over and together they called a Christian organization in Oaxaca named “Manos de Ayuda” (Hands of Help). They work out of a hospital in the city of Oaxaca where people can get medical care at a reduced costs.
An appointment was made immediately with an eye specialist and before leaving, the mission team, the Oaxacan Covenant missionaries, and the pastor of the church where we were working, prayed with Yuridia and her father. She was then in God’s hands.
At the eye appointment, the ophthalmologist discovered that Yuridia had cataracts in both of her eyes, with the one cataract in one of her eyes so thick, it was causing her blindness. Further tests confirmed this diagnosis. Because of her age and the severity of the cataracts, it was decided that Yuridia needed immediate surgery. Manos de Ayuda offered the surgery at a reduced cost and it was scheduled for the end of March. The doctor warned that although there was hope, Yuridia might not regain sight in the eye most severely affected because the optic nerve in that eye might have atrophied.
Meanwhile, back at the health clinic, we continued discussing Maria Yuridia, and the visiting NPU team offered to help pay for the surgery. God was working in everyone’s heart on that day.
Maria Yuridia and her father returned to the city of Oaxaca at the end of March for the first surgery. It was done with no complications and by that evening, she had regained some of the vision in the most severely affected eye.
She now has hope for a better future—one that will include being able to see Jesus in the world around her. Everyone involved was grateful to be able to be part of God’s plan for Maria Yuridia’s life.