I (Chrisi) had the opportunity to meet a young single mom a few weeks ago who had just lost her 8 month old baby girl to malnutrition and sickness.
Beatriz arrived at ASLESI with her daughter Aleyda a few months ago and was admitted into the ASELSI Milk Program. Baby Aleyda was 6 months old and only weighed 7 and a half pounds when they first arrived.
During the first month in our program, where she was given formula, cereal and vitamins, she gained a entire pound — adding 13% to her body weight.
Before the young mom Beatriz had an opportunity to return to the ASELSI Clinic a second time to receive her formula and food for the next month, her daughter got sick and she brought her to the hospital. Where the doctors told Beatriz that Aleyda needed surgery.
I asked Beatriz what kind of surgery it was and, she told me that she did not know. She only knows that it was somewhere in her abdomen area because she was left with a scar there afterwards. While nearly unimaginable in the U.S., it is common here that people do not question doctors recommendations but just go along with whatever the doctor says. So Baby Aleyda had a surgery that her mom still doesn’t know what the doctors did.
Baby Aleyda stayed at the hospital for two weeks and the hospital staff told Beatriz that her baby was doing well and would be discharged soon.
Upon discharge, they informed Beatriz that they wanted to send Aleyda to a specialist in Guatemala City (some 3 hours away) to make sure that everything was normal with her heart. Little did Beatriz know that this ride to the specialist would be the last time she would get to spend with her little princess.
Beatriz tearfully explained to me that her little Aleyda, suddenly died in her arms while inside the ambulance. Beatriz was totally surprised. She told me she didn’t see it coming. She knew her baby was small, but the hospital staff said that she was doing well. The trip to the city was just for an exam of her heart to make sure everything was normal. It was just for a checkup but Beatriz found herself having to say goodbye to her baby in the ambulance.
This 21-year-old mother is grieving, and I had the opportunity to grieve with her. I was so blessed to be able to hold her hand, to cry with her, to pray with her and to speak words of life into a situation where death seemed to be in control.
As I sat with her, Beatriz touched my little baby girl Jubilee who sat quietly in her carrier on my chest and said, “ You have your baby, but my little princess in gone.”
We do not know why Aleyda died. She was severely underweight, which is more common here than I had ever realized before I lived here. She had just had surgery and they must have had concerns about her heart to have sent her to see a specialist. We do not have all the answers, but we do have the eternal answer, which is Jesus Christ.
This answer does not promise us life without loss, it does not promise us that things will always go our way, in fact it often leads us to places where we do not want to go. What it does promise is that we will always have Him with us to walk those roads . Those places where we thought we’d never want to go or could go, seem so little when walking with the one who gave it all for us. The road that Jesus Christ took was much harder than any road we may have to take one day. Our salvation was a costlier road than we may ever know. Yes indeed we have a faithful friend forever!!!
Those are the roads we walk here in Guatemala. Roads that take us to people in heartache, sickness, need and hurts that are deeper than I could have ever imagined. Yet, it is on these roads that we see Jesus using us to be his loving arms that we can wrap around someone and remind them that true hope is found in Christ. Roads that lead us to build long-term relationships with people.
When we talked further with Beatriz, we realized that the road she lives on is just around the block from our home!
Michael, Hudson, Jubilee and I visited Beatriz last week and were able to give her a photo of Aleyda that had been taken at the ASELSI clinic. This is the only printed photo that she has of Aleyda. Beatriz also has a 3 and a half year old son named Davis. Hudson loves playing with him and we have already had them over at our house to let the boys play. This friendship between the two boys allowed me to begin a relationship and pray with her! We are excited about the new friends that God is placing in our lives here in the highlands of Chichicastenango and how He is letting our paths cross as we walk these dusty roads that lead us and our neighbors closer to Him.