As she was walking away, she watched us pull up to the house , a smile on her face in a pale blue maternity top. I made eye contact and waved, she waved back. She looked happy and at peace as she followed her husband up the driveway to the road which led to where they would stay until her baby was born.
We had just arrived from the airport and were still taking in all that was not Northern Virginia. Colorful homes dotting the landscape, steep mountain roads, banana trees, and coffee plantations were just some of the things that bombarded the senses. Not in a bad way. Costa Rica is beautiful.
We soon learned that Esperanza, the sweet smiling mama, was a Cabecar woman who was due to have her baby any day. Her husband wanted to be with her but, only women are allowed at St. Francis Emmaus Maternity Hostel so the little family, which also consisted of a 9 year old daughter and a toddler boy, were staying at the future home of St. Bryce Mission.
Mama is mildly intellectually disabled and her little boy, who was born with a severe cleft lip and palate almost died because he didn’t get the care he needed. His lip was repaired but they went back to their home in the reserve and didn’t make their next appointment, which was vital to repairing the palate while it was still soft. He had aspirated some food and almost died of pneumonia. Now he’s older and the repair will be more complicated.
We visited the place they are staying. St. Bryce and St. Francis Emmaus have plans to make the property the new center of operations, with a large home to house the mothers the center will minister to. The home, while in need of major rehabilitation, has good bones and beautiful wood throughout and has running water, a decent roof, and many rooms.
The Mitchell’s brought us there before we went to Grano de Oro and the Cebecar reserve on the Friday we were there
It was uncomfortable. I felt like a tourist peering in on the private lives of this sweet little family with our i-phones gawking and the language barrier an obstacle. Esperanza still wore that sweet smile. Her daughter seemed to be the main caretaker for the two year old son.
There were mattresses on the floor, the only furniture in the home. A smoky smell lingered in the air from a wood stove they used to cook their meals. This home however provides much more than they are used to on the primitive reserve in the cloud forest.
Bags of what looked like donated clothing were on the mattresses. Esperanza was in a nightgown her thin legs wrought with bulging varicose veins, baby belly large and ready. Coleen with her confident, caring presence spoke words of encouragement as she checked the position of the baby.
Esperanza went into labor the other night, Colleen was there. She said it was a quick labor and their new baby girl is healthy and strong, but was also born with severe cleft lip and palate, and club feet. Costa Rica provides free medical care for all it’s residents, that is a good thing. But the challenge of getting to that care and navigating the system and understanding the health issues is daunting. It would be daunting for any family. For this Cabecar family who would probably like to return to their home on the reserve there is an extra layer of daunt…is that a word?…it should be. Getting in and out of the reserve to doctors appointments would take a whole day. It would be a full time job. They will probably continue to stay with St. Bryce. The logistics of ensuring the baby and her brother get the care they need will most likely fall on the Mitchell’s. Please pray for them. And if so led and able please support them
St. Bryce Foundation https://www.facebook.com/StBryceMissions/
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:21-26English Standard Version (ESV)