Brand-New Smiles Reflect God’s Love in Action

December 19, 2019 • Guatemala
Samaritan's Purse team members pray with Sherly before her surgery.
Samaritan's Purse team members pray with Sherly before her surgery.

A Samaritan’s Purse medical team performs life-changing cleft lip and palate surgeries for children in Guatemala.

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Children born with a cleft lip or palate in Peten, Guatemala, are unlikely to have it repaired. Most parents are unable to afford the necessary surgery or travel the nearly nine-hour journey to Guatemala City to receive care.

Caal always wondered why she was born looking different than her sisters.

Caal always wondered why she was born looking different than her sisters.

For a few families that situation changed for the better recently when a volunteer medical team from Samaritan’s Purse became the first group to provide these life-changing surgeries in Peten. Partnering with Hospital Shalom, a World Medical Mission hospital, the team of doctors, nurses, and specialists treated 15 patients born with cleft lips and palates.

“In order for the people here to get cleft palate surgeries, they [normally] have to go all the way across the country,” said Tim Spurrier, director of Hospital Shalom. “For many of these kids, they come from a village out in the middle of the bush where they were ostracized for having a deformity. Now, they are equal with their peers and that means so much—it literally changes their lives.”

Caal is one of the children who has grown up doubting her self-worth and questioning what she did to deserve being born with a cleft lip and palate. “She has seen the photos of when she was born and that affects her because she is not like her older sisters,” said Caal’s mom Carona. “She asks, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ But I don’t have an answer as a mother.”

Samaritan’s Purse nurse Susan Michaud received cleft lip surgery as a child and believes that God placed her on the trip to provide a unique sense of comfort to Carona and her daughter.

Caal sees herself for the first time after surgery.

Caal sees herself for the first time after surgery.

“She asked if there had been anything that she did during her pregnancy to cause this and it was really gratifying to be able to reassure her that there’s nothing that she did—or my mom did—that could have caused this,” Susan said. “We were able to pray together.”

After 12 years, four ineffective surgeries, and a nearly three-hour journey to Hospital Shalom, Caal’s cleft lip and palate were repaired to reveal a beautiful new smile.

Both Caal and her mom were thrilled with the results of the surgery—thanking God for bringing Samaritan’s Purse to Peten. “It is a great pleasure because this is the real love that God asks us. The love for your neighbor—you are showing His love through actions,” Carona said.

Susan felt just as blessed to be a part of Caal’s story—reminding her that although she has a new smile, her true beauty comes from within and from the love of Jesus. “You’re beautiful, you’re unique, you’re so special—it has been such a special privilege to serve you and I am just so grateful to the Lord that He brought you into my life for such a short time,” Susan said to Caal.

“You are showing His love through actions.”

Without Samaritan’s Purse, Carona doesn’t know if or when Caal’s mouth would have been healed. “We are so grateful for this opportunity because we lack the resources—we don’t have any resources—to do anything like this,” she said. “We are grateful. Thanks, a thousand times.”

Blessings from Brokenness

Sherly now has a brand-new smile.

Sherly now has a brand-new smile.

An incomplete right upper lip caused 6-year-old Sherly to struggle with speech and pronunciation—resulting in continuous, harsh bullying from her peers at school.

“It is so difficult for her to have friends,” said Lorena, Sherly’s mother. “She feels embarrassed when she has to talk with the other kids because they speak clearly and she doesn’t.”

Though Lorena and husband Julio wanted to help their only child, they could not afford the costly surgery that would fix her lip and hopefully correct her speech problems. Still, they prayed that their daughter’s lip would somehow be healed.

After several years of praying and searching for opportunities, Sherly’s parents heard that Samaritan’s Purse was coming to Peten to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries. “This kind of surgery is very expensive and we cannot afford it,” Lorena said. “This is a huge blessing to us.”

Our team performed surgeries for 15 patients.

Our team performed surgeries for 15 patients.

The Samaritan’s Purse team closed Sherly’s right lip, providing a launching pad for a new sense of self-confidence.

“This will help her a lot in her self-esteem because she had difficulty speaking, but now she will have relationships with others,” Lorena said.

When Sherly first saw herself in the mirror, she expected to see a large scar marking her transformative surgery. Instead, she broke out into a huge smile with her parents at her side.

“I am so thankful. I have no words to express how thankful I am,” Lorena said.

Please pray for our cleft lip and palate teams as they share the hope of Jesus Christ around the world while also providing physical transformation to those who lack access to these life-changing surgeries.

SUPPORT
Samaritan’s Purse sends specialized teams to places such as South Sudan and Bolivia to provide outpatient surgery for hundreds of patients. Your gift of $250 will enable us to cover the cost of this life-changing procedure so we can show these boys and girls how precious they are in the eyes of God.
Mend a Cleft Lip Samaritan’s Purse sends specialized teams to places such as South Sudan and Bolivia to provide outpatient surgery for hundreds of patients. Your gift of $250 will enable us to cover the cost of this life-changing procedure so we can show these boys and girls how precious they are in the eyes of God.

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