My young friend José Mario is pretty quiet and doesn’t talk much unless I ask the right questions. On a recent Saturday, I could tell that I’d hit something when I asked him how his family was doing. “Muy mal,” he said (“Very badly”).
“My brother fell and broke his leg.” José Mario told me.
He explained that his older brother, Pedro, had somehow fallen on a rock and broke his femur — a devastating injury for a young father who has an 11-day-old baby and won’t be able to continue his job as a driver for a public transportation bus until he has healed.
As I asked more the story unfolded…
Pedro had been playing soccer with some buddies. At the game, he slipped and fell. From the pain, he knew he needed help, but since he couldn’t pay the US$20 for an x-ray, he had his soccer pals take him to a “bone nurse” — basically a questionable villager who is known for using natural remedies to heal bones. With the help of this “bone nurse,” they put some cream on his leg and wrapped a rag along with a piece of cardboard around his leg. It took six men to carry Pedro up the rugged path that leads to his home and deposit him on a pile of blankets on the cement floor inside his adobe house. That was three days ago. The family didn’t want him to go to hospital because a local “prophet” had told them that if he went to hospital, the doctors would cut his leg off.
I knew I couldn’t let that man lie there in his house in pain. So Chrisi and I left our two youngest children with a friend, loaded up Hudson and José Mario in the van and headed out on the rough dirt road to a little path between cornfields that leads up to José Mario’s home. We called a local friend who lives nearby and asked him to go with us. Our friend, Tomas, speaks the local K’iche’ language and knows the family as well.
After a short climb up the eroded dirt path, we made it to the house. There, with several family members gathered around, lay Pedro in obvious discomfort and pain every time he moved his leg.
We looked at his cardboard encased leg that was obviously swollen and we prayed for his healing. We also shared the Gospel with him and saw him open his heart to make Christ the Lord of his life.
After explaining what could happen if he didn’t get good medical care, we assured Pedro that they wouldn’t cut his leg off if he just went in for an x-ray. Finally, he agreed to take us up on our offer to pay for his x-ray.
We called an ambulance and then helped carry Pedro on the stretcher through the corn fields and to the ambulance that took him to the emergency room at a local hospital.
His femur was completely broken in a ragged break that needed to be pinned or repaired with a rod.
I’ve lived in Guatemala for nearly 5 years now, but I’d never realized how far the concept of making decisions as a group went in this society until Pedro’s brothers, and cousins began showing up to discuss whether to take him home or send him to the hospital.
After long talks by the doctor and lots of explaining what would happen if they just take him home (Pedro probably would never walk again without surgery.), the family decided to send him to the national hospital. We offered to help with a portion of the surgery if the family would cover part of the costs.
They agreed and sent him on to the national hospital.
Pedro stayed in the hospital while his mother and brother slept outside for five nights so they could be nearby to help and to visit Pedro during the single hour of visiting hours the hospital allows each day.
After seven days in hospital, they operated on Pedro’s leg and successfully installed screws and a plate to hold his bone in place until it can heal.
I visited Pedro while he was in recovery and he was pretty happy about the whole thing.
I encouraged him to check with his doctor about doing physical therapy to help get strength back in his legs, especially after not using them regularly for months.
About 20 days after the accident, Luis visited ASELSI to borrow some crutches. He wasn’t ready for crutches yet, but with the help of the director of the CAF program where physical therapy is provided regularly, he got up from his bed for the first time in 20 days and began walking with the help of a walker to keep him mobile until he can walk on his own.
We’re so glad to be part of a ministry that is helping the sick to be healed, the lame to walk and the broken to be mended. We’re staying in touch with Pedro to followup and hopefully help disciple him in his new found faith.