Miracles on the Road

Everything that is good….. is also hard

After our disappointing trip with Gael to Guadalajara last month, we are back on track! But none of it has been easy and I realize that good stuff is sometimes just hard to pull off. You must believe deep down that it’s worth it or you might be tempted to cry or scream or quit.

You’ll remember that last month Gael absolutely refused to allow the audiologist to do the essential brain stem test at the hospital in Guadalajara. He wouldn’t put the headphones on, he wouldn’t let her look in his ears, he just wouldn’t cooperate. She told us he should have come sleepy or asleep, but no one had told us that. She did suggest we try to convince him to wear a hearing aid for a few months to get used to the idea of a device and miraculously he loves his blue hearing aid and wears it all the time.

Gael Goes to Guadalajara

We were pleased when we found another audiologist who could do the test in Tepic. That’s 2 ½ hours from here, as opposed to the 5-hour drive to Guadalajara. It’s an ugly, windy, curvy, narrow single lane road through the mountains, but a couple hours shorter, so we set an appointment with Dr. Veronica and set off.

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Narrow curvy mountain roads

The appointment was at 5:00 in the afternoon – which meant we had to figure out how to be sure Gael was ready for sleep at exactly 4:45. On Wednesday night the orphanage director Veronica took Gael home and kept him busy playing and dancing until 12:30 am. She then woke him up at 4:00 and took him back to the orphanage at 6:00 to get ready for school. After lunch he had his mandated shower with no fragrances or gels and at 1:30 we hit the road for Tepic. He was tired…. really tired…. and we kept him busy with tablet games and sandwiches and bananas and juice and anything to keep him from falling asleep.

We also took a set of headphones like the ones the audiologist would use. In case he wasn’t asleep, we wanted to make sure he would be cooperative, and our German friend Manuela looked hilarious wearing the headphones that were connected to nothing. He liked them and was happy to put them on during the drive. Unfortunately, that led to our first challenge of the day. To wear those headphones, he had to take off his hearing aid and his mom, who wasn’t carrying a purse, wrapped the device in her shirt. And then we stopped at a Pemex gas station to use the bathroom and buy some drinks and an hour or so down the road when Gael decided to put his hearing aid on it was nowhere to be found. We searched every inch of our van, but the hearing aid was definitely not there. We knew the gas station was a possibility, but it was too late to turn back – and who could even remember which of the one million Pemex stations we had passed might the be one we had stopped at.

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Maybe?

After arriving in Tepic, we got on Google maps and Google Earth and narrowed down where we thought we had stopped. I remembered the nearby grocery store, we knew it was on the edge of a town (but was in Las Varas or Zapulcan?) and we remembered the general shape of the building. Once we felt confident where it was, how could we contact it? The internet only had a 1-800 number for Pemex in Mexico, no local numbers, and I am not kidding when I say there are millions of them. Every couple of miles. They’re everywhere. And then I remembered that our church has a sister church in Las Varas. I only knew that because our team from Canada had done some work there a few years ago. I messaged my friend Pastor Fredy and his wife Michele and begged them to contact the pastor in Las Varas and ask if someone would go on a hunt for us. Which of course they did and within a ½ hour they messaged – they had found the hearing aid. They had it. We could stop on the way home and pick it up. Disaster narrowly averted. That was Miracle #1.

By that time, it was about time for our appointment and just at the right moment, at exactly 4:45, Gael snuggled into his mom’s arms and fell asleep. Deeply asleep for the next 7 hours. Miracle #2. The test was done. The findings confirming once again that an implant will work for him – his brain function is good. The audiologist told us we are working with one of the best surgeons. We had the green light we needed to move on to the final step, the MRI which we can get done in Puerto Vallarta next week.

With the test complete, the hearing aid found and Gael asleep, we headed for home. It was already 7:30 in Bucerias and we weren’t thrilled about driving the curvy roads in the dark, so we decided not to stop for supper. We would stop at a gas station or taco stand along the way for a quick bite. We should be home by 10:30ish. Except we totally weren’t.

About a ½ hour into our drive it started to rain. Not good news for already dangerous single lane roads. At first it wasn’t a hard rain, so Grant calmly flipped on the windshield wipers – only to find that the wipers on the van we had borrowed from Manos de Amor were completely worn out. No rubber whatsoever on the wiper. Just a metal noise scraping on the very wet window. I panicked as the rain distorted our visibility. And then Miracle #3. The road widened with room for us to pull over. We were not in or near a town, basically in the middle of nowhere, but there was a tiny shop right there. Right there. And it sold car oil, and belts and windshield wipers. Within 5 minutes we were back on the road. And then we weren’t. We were standing still. For the next 3 ½ hours we stood totally still. And watched as 9 ambulances and a fire truck passed us. We knew it was bad.

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Waiting …. hoping the rains would stay away…..

We were starving by then and when Manuela saw a light far in the distance she decided to walk down the highway to investigate. Sure enough, it was a Pemex (I told you … they’re everywhere!) and she returned with sandwiches for all. And a cockroach. Whatever.

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Eventually we were able to move ahead slowly, and we saw the devastating accident that had stopped us. Today we heard the details. A semi’s trailer had shifted as he rounded a curve and the truck tipped on to a passing Tour Bus which flipped on its side. 32 people were badly injured. It was sobering and scary and sad and the rest of our ride was quiet. Today I read that shortly after we had finally passed through, a crane that had come to help move the overturned vehicles had lost its brakes on the hilly road and tipped over on its way back to Las Varas – the same place we were heading – and the highway was closed for 4 more hours. Perhaps Miracle #4 is that we had moved through in the small window of time before this next disaster and we had not been nearby when it happened.

We arrived home at 3:00 am instead of 10:30 pm. A one-hour test had turned into a 14-hour adventure. But the lost hearing aid was found, the windshield wipers were intact, we were safe, and Gael was cleared to move ahead with Miracle #5 – receiving his gift of hearing.

I like to think I’m stubborn. That I can persevere. But I am so grateful that I don’t know the details of each step of my life before I walk them. That I don’t know the frustrations and the mistakes and the pain that will be there. That I just trust that it is worth it. That life is worth it. That loving others is worth it. And that on the tough days, there will always be Miracles.

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UPDATE: Today we drove the hour back to Las Varas to meet the kind people from La Fuente church who had found Gael’s hearing aid. Turns out the aid was found in the parking lot but wasn’t run over or damaged at all. That’s Miracle #6!

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A Week of Parties

The hotter the temperature rises, the quieter our little town becomes. Most of the tourists have now gone home and many of the local restaurants and shops have either closed for the summer or reduced their hours.  The ones that are still open are offering great discounts.  We are enjoying eating out more, supporting the locals who are hoping to hold on until the tourists return.  Yesterday at Los Tejabanes we had a full lunch with vegetables soup, rich and delicious Chile Rellenos with rice and a drink for only 70 pesos –  $4 CDN.

The summer slowdown definitely does not mean the Mexicans have stopped partying however, and we had two great parties this week.

First was a surprise birthday party for me at the orphanage.  I am usually not there on Wednesday afternoons, but I have some new English teachers and was showing them the ropes.  We held our 5 classes – 3 hours of singing “Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes” while teaching body parts (when did I stop being able to comfortably touch my toes?) and I really can’t believe that none of our little students gave away the secret.  While we taught the oldest class during the last hour, the staff and younger children were busy blowing up balloons, decorating the house, stuffing a piñata and putting a LOT of candles in the cake.  Just before 5:00, the classroom door opened, and Grant came in carrying a cake followed by a crowd of little ones wearing crowns and masks and yelling “Happy Birthday Karen”.  We spent the next 2 hours singing and dancing and eating cake and piñata candy and of course the obligatory Mexican tradition of smashing my face in the cake.   This is called “Mordida” – literally “taking a bite” – everyone yelling “Mordida, Mordida” while the birthday girl or boy takes the first bite of the cake.  Gael thought it was hilarious to really shove my face in that delicious chocolate icing.

The next day I looked through all the cards that the children – and the grown ups had made – and I was moved by their love, their openness and their artistic abilities.  They had worked hard to make beautiful messages of love and I am so grateful.  Perhaps my favorite came from Mareli who is one of our weekend children.  This is the card she wrote:

This is the translation:

“I love you and I give thanks for all that you have given us Karen. I love you very much.  Karen with all my heart I thank you for giving me the opportunity to go to your house.”

Sometimes it’s hard to love children who have really tough lives and families, who struggle and who can never truly be my own, but this message just made it all worthwhile.  Not because they are grateful for the ‘stuff’ we give them, but because they feel loved and are able to share love.  That is good for them and also super good for us.

On Friday night we were invited to another party.  You remember Gloria?  I told you about the house she built and the pit her husband dug to be an oven for their birria.

Gloria Builds a House!

Well this week Gloria invited us to come and share the deer that one of their friends had hunted up in the mountains.  I have never seen a deer in Mexico, but apparently they do exist.  Gloria and Adrian put the gifted deer meat in a large pot with chilis and spices and slices of oranges and buried it all in the ground with hot charcoal and wood and waited a few hours.   It was exciting to watch Adrian take off the coals that had been heaped on top, remove the metal covering, hoist up the hot, heavy pot, unfold the layers of foil to finally reveal the meat.  The mouth watering smell hit us first and although I wasn’t very hungry and hadn’t planned to eat much, I ended up with a heaping plate of beans, tortillas and tender shredded deer meat.  It was a feast and of course the night ended with karaoke and laughter and I even blew out my shoe dancing!

 

Thank you for the many birthday wishes I received this week from all over the world – Canada and the US and Sweden and Mexico and Cuba.  I couldn’t be more excited to see where this new year takes Grant and I.  All I know for sure is there will be children, there will be delicious food, there will be adventure, there will be love, and there will be DANCING!

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A Big Final Step for Britani

Two steps forward.  One step back. ALWAYS!  If we think we have something completed, well we don’t.  It’s just the way it is and we are learning what it means to be persistent and stubborn and patient.  Last November I told you about Britani who was in the process of getting her birth certificate which would allow her to attend school.  She is 7 and has never been registered, has never legally existed.   So we were excited in November when it seemed the process was finally complete and Britani started school for the first time.

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But the story was not finished – not even close.  After I wrote that Blog post, things slowed down.  The government registration offices said too much time had passed.  The final papers we needed were no longer accessible at the hospital – they are only kept for 5 years.  The whole process had to start from the very beginning. A lawyer, more offices, more trips to the hospital in San Pancho and saddest of all – no more school for Britani.  At the end of December, the school reminded us that 2 months had passed and no papers had been produced.  Britani could not return to school after the Christmas break.  Just one more sad letdown for this little one.

But Super Director Veronica kept knocking at the door, kept pushing.  We kept picking Mama up and driving her to the hospital, to the registration office.  It was sad but hilarious when they put Britani’s 7-year-old foot in ink and stamped it in the box on the birth certificate form that was the size of the baby foot it was intended for.

But finally!  This week Britani received her Birth Certificate – with Grant and I signing as witnesses and friends and weekend parents.   Her life, well it is still full of challenges that make me cry every day, but tomorrow morning she can go to school.  She can learn and grow and dream of what she wants to be when she grows up.  She can be like the other little girls who are 7.  And that is a big deal for Britani!

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Gael Goes to Guadalajara

This is an update my husband Grant wrote to tell you about our trip with Gael to Guadalajara – another one of ‘those days’!

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2 hours into our drive and the sun is just rising

As you probably read last week, we recently took a trip to visit the implant doctor and his team in Guadalajara, excited to take the next steps in this journey.  Our team on the ground here in Mexico, made up of myself and Karen (English/some Spanish), Francisco (bilingual), Gael (charade and hand signal language) his mother Mariela (only Spanish) and Laura his Manos mama ( only Spanish) left  home a little before 5 am and traveled to Guadalajara, arriving at the doctors’ offices in the hospital a little after 10:00 am.  We met the surgeon and team leader Dr. Hector Macias and discussed the process and what would be required for the final testing.  And then the challenges began—how could we not have expected challenges?

The first test we were expecting was an MRI, but we were informed that the MRI machine at the hospital was out of service and we would need to go to a private clinic—and would it be ok as the cost there was going to be over $9000 pesos?  We of course agreed, but then found out there was no availability that day—we would need to return on Monday.   Sigh.

We then met with Dra. Cynthia who was to do a computerized brain scan to test Gael’s brain for its ability to process sound.  Things then got difficult—Gael refused to sit still and wear the head phones required.  No amount of convincing by Laura or Mariela was effective.  We were told then that the test would need to be done on him sleeping and were given sleeping pills for that purpose.  Of course he refused to take them, so we then slipped the contents into a juice bottle to give him when he was unsuspecting.   Dra. Cynthia told us she was leaving at 2:00 so he would have to be asleep by 1:30 if the test was to be performed.

The third important task of the day was for Gael’s mom and Laura to meet with the psychologists who would assess the caregivers and ask questions about Gael.  We should at least be able to do that right?

Francisco and I took Gael outside to run around for awhile and see if we could tire him out.  We went back inside and as we waited for the psychologists appointment Gael fell asleep in his mom’s arms.  Great—we had time!  As Laura and Mariela were called into the psychologist’s office,  Karen, Francisco and myself attempted to carry Gael through the busy hospital, down to a different floor in hopes he would sleep through the  brain testing.

20180511_124251Of course, 1/2 way to the testing office, Gael woke up and nothing could get him back to sleep.  We chose a quiet spot in the waiting area in hopes Gael would go back to sleep—but in typical Gael style, he did not want to miss a thing.  He just stared around and watched all the activity going on around,  yawning non-stop.

In the meantime, Francisco got on the phone with doctors in Puerto Vallarta to see about an MRI there—could we avoid doing this whole trip again on Monday?  Yes—we could get one for around $3600 pesos and Dr. Macias agreed that was an acceptable option.

Meanwhile, Laura and Mariel had their interviews and came to find us.  They told us that the psychologists wanted to meet with Gael, but because he was not there with them during their appointment,  the doctors had gone home and we would have to come back on Monday at for Gael to be assessed.  Sigh again.  He absolutely could have been meeting with them since he had no intention of sleeping at all but who knew they wanted to meet with him?

Later, Dra Cynthia came by and after much conversation between her, some of her associates and Francisco she took us all back to her office to see if Gael would agree to wear a hearing aid.  They had decided that this was now going to be a requirement before an implant to ensure that he was willing to have any type of device on.  Seeing his resistance to wearing a headphone earlier had worried us all—what if he just refused this whole process?   By this time Gael had already had a melt down and was adamant that he was not interested in having another bad experience with a hearing aid.  He had had a bad experience a few months ago with Dr. Austin of Starkey when a hearing aid that was turned too loud was placed on his one ear that hears low frequencies, and the loud noise badly scared him…. (probably the first really loud sound he had heard in his life!)  So a long winded conversation occurred between the Dra.  and the mothers,  Karen and Francisco adding input.   During this time the hearing aid was passed around, everyone putting it in their ear, big smiles and thumbs up in hopes Gael could get past his fear and put the hearing aid on.  After a long time he did so, and then he liked it.  In fact he loved it!  He packed it in the little box and indicated he was talking it home.  By now all doctors involved were gone home, and Dra Cynthia was also anxious to leave.    We were given the hearing aid to take home, and told that Gael needed to wear it for a month to see if he would cooperate.   We can have the brain test done in a month—and we can get it done in Tepic if we choose.

I admit we left the hospital pretty discouraged.  We had driven 5 hours through mountain roads and were going home with no MRI done, no brain test done, no completed psychological assessment.   Most importantly, no surgery date chosen.

 

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So now we regroup, schedule an MRI locally, and reschedule the brain testing and psychological assessment for Gael.  All as soon as possible.  We also continue sign language training which has helped immensely in Gael’s ability to communicate, and according to his kindergarten teaching has done wonders for his behavioral issues.  We also will look for ways to get Gael more comfortable with a hearing aid and using headphones so he will return to being cooperative when we do the brain assessment.

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Gael is still willingly wearing his aid – a good predictor of future success!

Or, we make a plan that involves keeping him up all night so he will sleep through the testing procedure with minimum sleeping pills.  At the time of posting this update Gael has been wearing the hearing aid ever since arriving home, and he loves that it is blue.

We realize that this is a very long journey for Gael and those who consider themselves his friends.  Hearing will open up a whole new world for him,  but he is currently 5 years behind his peers in hearing/speaking and in developing certain cognitive/emotional skills.  School will continue to be a very difficult experience and probably will require additional supports that we are currently looking into.  Experiencing a single-mom family situation provides further challenges.  The ultimate question remains the same: what can we do for one of God’s precious little ones—give him the very best we can.  Stay tuned.

 

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Cinco de Mayo… Huh???

It’s Cinco de Mayo – which means almost nothing here in Mexico unless you are living in the town of Puebla.  May 5th marks the Battle of Puebla but it is NOT Mexican Independence Day which many Canadians and Americans mistakenly think.   While you’ll be eating giant tacos and sipping giant tumblers of tequila while wearing giant sombreros – well that’s just another normal day here in my neighborhood.

We have, however, seen two other very Mexican cultural celebrations take place this week. The first was Children’s Day – Dia de Los Ninos – which always takes place on April 30th.  It’s a day where families and schools celebrate and honor children with parties and pinatas and candy and everything else KID.  We attended the Children’s Day Party held at Manos de Amor which was led by the students of one of the local universities.  It was a blast and we walked away covered in face paint, hotdog condiments and sticky candy remnants.

 

Manos de Amor Fiesta!

Almost 300 children attended the party at my local church

May 3rd is known as Day of the Holy Cross and it is a tradition that was brought to Mexico by Spanish missionaries centuries ago.  Mexican construction workers have taken this celebration as their own, and as we drove around our neighborhood we saw that every construction site – no matter how big or how small – had a cross erected, decorated with colorful flowers and paper streamers.    At the end of the day we saw crews of workers enjoying some food and ‘adult beverages’ together on the worksite in the shadow of the cross.   An expression of gratitude and a request for blessing and protection.

Mexicans love to party.  They love to eat and drink and dance.  Everywhere you look you see the rich symbols of Mexico’s culture displayed and celebrated.  The recent movie “Coco” is a great depiction of just how deep and passionate Mexican traditions run.  They love to honor one another – everyone has a day and a party and I can’t wait until it’s my turn on May 10th when we celebrate Dia de la Madre – Mother’s Day!  In the meantime, enjoy your Cinco de Mayo burrito – I lift a toast to you and VIVA MEXICO!

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Gloria Builds a House!

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I’d like you to meet my friend Gloria and her husband Adrian.  In fact, I’d like to invite you to join me for a Fish Feast at their new home!  I know Gloria won’t mind if you come with me – she’s proud of her new home and loves to cook and entertain.

 

I met Gloria at Manos de Amor.  She works part time in the kitchen and helps clean the home.   She speaks no English, but we are friends and I have been cheering her on for the last year as she and Adrian build their dream home down the river on the outskirts of town.

Life has not been easy for Gloria.  Just over a year ago she lost her oldest son in a car accident and she has never fully recovered.  What mom could?  Her oldest daughter has a learning disability.  But Gloria is strong and resourceful and over the past few years she has been paying tiny sums of money each month to buy a piece of land.  Her dream was to own her own home, so she would not have to pay rent.  On her small salary, the rent was killing her, and she was determined to create a better life for her family.

Finally, the day came when Gloria announced to us she had paid off the land and she was ready to start building.  And by ‘ready to start building’ I don’t mean calling a general contractor, and an architect and an engineer and an interior designer and a bunch of crews for different trades.  I mean she was literally ready to start building.  She and Adrian took a saw and some machetes and headed into the bush near their land.  They cut down trees to form the posts that would hold the structure.  Over the next few months they accumulated some cement blocks and a friend donated money for a roof.  They created two bedrooms and a tiny kitchen area for storage of food and dishes.  The cooking and eating will be done outside.  In fact, as in most Mexican homes, most of the living is done outside with family telling stories gathered around a fire.  Adrian dug a hole that will be their underground pit oven for cooking birria.  Birria is a spicy Mexican stew usually made from goat, a favorite dish from the state of Jalisco which is just a few miles from Bucerias.  The rocks in the bottom of the pit will be heated and a clay pot full of meat and chilies and other spices and covered with maguey leaves will be roasted for many hours.  Gloria also planted a garden to keep her family supplied with the important Mexican salsa ingredients – tomatoes, avocados, chilies, onions and cilantro.  To ensure her late son was not left behind as they moved into this new chapter, Gloria hung pictures of him in every room – there is no doubt he is still a big part of her family and even in her new joy, she continues to mourn.

Yesterday Gloria invited us to her home for a feast of grilled fish, homemade spicy sauces, beans and of course corn tortillas.  The entire fish was brushed with a spicy sauce made of garlic and chilies and flattened on the grill.  It was delicious and there was something comforting and liberating about pulling the white meat off the fish bones and licking the spicy sauce off our fingers.  Some of my friends popped the cooked eyeballs into their mouths – I drew the line there!

Grant and I tried to keep up with the Spanish conversation but mainly we just enjoyed sitting back and celebrating success with this family – including their 2 dogs, some cats and 2 baby parrots.  They still have work to do.  They don’t have lights yet.  Eventually they’ll have windows.   But this is their forever family home, built with their own hands and dreams and love and we say SALUD GLORIA AND ADRIAN!

 

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So the World May Hear

When you move to a new place – especially a new place like this! – you are constantly stumbling into new experiences, new places, new people.  This month we took part in a project that was outside of our normal areas of involvement with people we had never met before.  And it was very cool!

As we have been helping to raise funds for our little deaf friend Gael, we have been searching out contacts within the hearing loss community – doctors, therapists, and other service groups who just might be able to help us.  We have been learning and stretching into a whole new world that we really didn’t even know existed.  Which led us to meet Enrique and the Lions Club of Puerto Vallarta.  They were holding a Hearing Aid 30777117_10155413869121198_2007058191_nbenefit in conjunction with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a charity that was created by Starkey Hearing Technologies and its founder William Austin.   Austin is a leader in the Hearing Aid industry who has worked with a number of US Presidents and other celebrities.  He now spends his time giving the gift of hearing to those in need.  This amazing group has donated hearing aids to people in over 100 countries and its goal is to provide 1 million aids in this decade.   This month they were in Mexico and we saw that they needed volunteers for their outreach in Puerto Vallarta.  Wanting to know more about this whole area and to meet some people who might have advice for us and for Gael, we offered to help.  We literally had no idea what we were volunteering for, but we showed up at 6:30 a.m. as requested, ready to lend a hand.

30429685_10155413870136198_1784692417_nAs we predicted, we were the only volunteers to show up at 6:30.  We noticed many Mexicans already lined up at the front door of the convention center, but when our new friend Enrique motioned us to follow him to the volunteer area, we saw we were the only ones there.    2 or 3 more arrived around 7:30, the majority after 8:00.   Why am I still surprised and why am I still showing up on time for things?  At about 7:40 Enrique’s wife came to us and said, “I am so sorry you are on time”.  You and me sister.

But finally, at around 8:30, a bus load of people wearing red T-shirts with the Starkey Foundation logo arrived and the front doors were opened to allow the long line of waiting people in.  My job was to work with the hearing specialist at the first point of contact.  As people filed in, the red shirted lady looked in each of their ears and indicated to me whether their ears were clean or not.  I had to take their application form, check a SI or NO as to clean ears and sign the paper before directing them to take their form and their little white card to the next station where their forms would be inspected.  Grant then led them to their next station – the ear washing place or the hearing aid fitting place.

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Over the next 4 hours, I marked and signed forms for 400 Mexican people.  800 ears inspected.  The youngest was 5.  The oldest was 103.  All poor.  All needing help to hear.  All excited to be receiving free hearing aids that day.  They came from around the states of Nayarit and Jalisco – from Tepic down to Manzanilla.  Some came on buses.  Some had other disabilities.  It was amazing and beautiful and I was so pleased we had showed up to see this miracle.

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As we were about to leave, Enrique’s wife came to us and said, “I would like you to meet Mr. Austin – he is a very important man.”  Now at this point, we had no idea who he was.  We knew nothing about his company, about his work with Presidents, about his billion-dollar net worth, about his philanthropy around the world.  We only knew he was offering free hearing aids to 400 Mexicans and we were happy to meet him and tell him about our small project with Gael.    His response was not what we expected.  He told us that perhaps he could help Gael with a hearing aid.  He said that he had the best hearing aids in the world and just maybe he could help.  Just maybe Gael could hear if we brought him to meet him that day.   Well you can imagine that we didn’t need to hear more.  We phoned our friend Francisco and asked him to track down Gael – we’re coming to get him and bring him here.  Just maybe…..

It took around an hour to drive back to Bucerias, pack up Gael and drive back to Puerto Vallarta.  The crowd was still large when we returned but Mr. Austin dropped everything to look at Gael.  He tried several different aids and Gael sat quietly, curious as he watched all the people in chairs around him putting these strange devices in their ears.  He seemed to understand what was happening and was very cooperative.  After 30 minutes or so, Mr. Austin said what we had already believed.   Hearing Aids will not help Gael.  He just doesn’t have enough hearing in either ear to create discernible sound.  I admit I shed a tear or two.  Even though we were receiving confirmation of what we had already learned, a tiny bit of hope had landed on my heart that afternoon.  Perhaps this was the miracle we were hoping for.  Instead we were encouraged to stay on the path we were already on.  To find a way for this little guy to have the Cochlear Implant surgery.  To help him learn sign language so he can begin to communicate while going through the whole process of surgery and speech therapy.

 

But then, as we turned away and prepared to leave, the miracle arrived after all.  It just looked different than I was expecting.  As we turned around, a young woman and an older woman were standing behind us.  They had been quietly listening.  And waiting.  I saw the name tag on the younger woman.  It said, “Sign Language”.  The older woman introduced us to Isabel and told us that she is a sign language teacher.  She lives in San Vicente and is willing to do private lessons.   Would you like her help?

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Well yes. Yes we would.  And just like that another piece had fallen into place.  Isabel now comes to Manos de Amor 3 days a week to teach Gael, his mom, and one of the Manos caregivers how to sign.  We have wanted this for a while but had no clue how to find someone who would come to us.  Had we not taken Gael to see Mr. Austin, we never would have found Isabel.

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As always, things happened exactly as they were meant to.  For Gael and for 400 other Mexicans who now have the Gift of Hearing!  Thank you to William Austin and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

https://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/

 

 

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