“‘You may only have 24 hours to get her to the hospital in the capital,’ the pediatrician said. ‘And if she gets a cough, 24 hours won’t be enough.’ I looked at the doctor, stunned at the gravity of the situation, and then proceeded to repeat it back to her, to be sure I understood correctly. I knew this baby girl was malnourished when we entered the doctor’s office, but I didn’t know how close to death she was. I was 21 years old and unqualified for the task ahead. I didn’t know a lot of Spanish. I didn’t know any medical terms in Spanish. I didn’t know anything about malnutrition or much about hospitals. But I knew one thing: there was a dying baby in my arms and there wasn’t any doubt in my mind—I would step up.
The doctor handed us a recommendation letter: ‘There is always a several day wait to get into this hospital. But it’s a good one,’ she told us. The sun was setting and mountain roads in Honduras are dangerous, so we planned the trip first thing in the morning. As the sun set, I rocked her tiny form in my arms on the swing under a tree outside. She was almost a year old and weighed 9 and a half pounds. It was incomprehensible to my mind, yet a reality lying in my arms. Her big eyes seemed to kinda smile as we swang and then they turned blank and lifeless again. She didn’t have much strength left. But I knew at this moment I would move the world to save her tiny life—a resolve I needed now before the long journey began.
Faint glimmers of light ran across the sky and mixed with the thick fog the next morning as we left our mountain town. A few hours later, I stood in front of the hospital—it stretched out before me two city blocks about eight city blocks long. Solid brick walls lined the sides with one line after the next of people waiting at different doors. I started to ask around for the pediatric ward but found everyone was really on defense. ‘I don’t know, but I have been waiting here for 2 days.’ ‘You can’t cut here. I have been waiting since yesterday morning.’ I was only looking for information, but these poor people were living on the street waiting to see a doctor. It was heartbreaking—but I had to press on and find a way in.
I found a door without a line or guard so we went on in. I would learn later this door was normally locked and only for nurses, but I believe God was making a way for us. Once inside, we were met with concrete hallways packed with people, beds, and wheelchairs with the sick and dear family members caring for them the best they could. Rooms on both sides opened to the hallway and were packed full of beds. A smell of sickness and unmentionable smells met my nose, mixed with floor cleaner as janitors tidied around people and did the best they could.
There was no time to take this all in. I immediately started asking around and was sent on farther into the hospital. Another street block and I stopped at a nurse’s table to ask if I was going in the right direction for the pediatric ward. ‘Yes, just keep going to the back.’ After another two blocks, I stopped again to ask. ‘Just keep going to the back.’ And so we continued through one ‘ward’ after the next. In the back, before the tall brick wall, stood a very large building with large windows full of children’s cries and business. We got in line and waited for the next few hours to be admitted—including the time to fill out all of the paperwork by hand.
It was one thing to hear places like this existed in the world, but quite another to witness it with my own eyes. So much hurt and need and not enough help. ‘And the doctor said this is one of the best hospitals,’ I thought to myself. (I would later learn she was right, sadly.) When the baby girl was admitted and time passed still without seeing a doctor or nurse, a lady near the bed next to me said, ‘Oh, girl, you have to go find a nurse or doctor if you want one. Is it an emergency?’ I quickly explained she was so malnourished and I was told to get her here right away, but now it was afternoon and she hadn’t seen a doctor. ‘Oh, sweet girl, you have to go and bother the doctor and ask a few times and he will come.’
She was right. Not from laziness, but rather not enough doctors and nurses to go around. About 20 minutes later, a nurse came in and hooked her up to an IV, and the doctor soon followed, but a minute later he pulled me aside. ‘Listen, if you can pay I will do everything I can for the baby. But I can’t make you any promises she will live. I have never seen such a bad case of malnutrition.’ (Mind you, this is where the majority of bad cases of malnutrition are sent in the country.) For the next 6 weeks, I helped take care of this sweet little girl along with my parents. It was touch and go for the first few weeks but little by little, we saw her gain weight and make progress. Day by day, we watched our powerful God heal her body.
I expanded my Spanish like crazy and my heart broke more and more as I heard stories from the ladies caring for their children there in the ward. My world was forever changed. It all started in 2013 at a Christmas Eve party when a friend asked me if I would like to join her on a trip to Honduras to help out an orphanage. 2 weeks later, after God supplied money I didn’t have, I was down here with a couple of my siblings and a couple of friends at a children’s home of 120 children. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, but I could wash dishes, sweep floors, rock babies to sleep, and mend clothing. It was there the Lord broke my heart for the orphans of Honduras. More children were entering the home all the time with more broken stories.
The caretakers told of much larger orphanages not as well off as them—though I never would have said they were well off. I started to realize the need for someone to love little ones without family was bigger than I could imagine. My sister and I extended our tickets and stayed to help longer when requested by the children’s home there. 3 months later, my parents were moving to Honduras to a town with a Spanish school and I knew I had to learn Spanish, too. It was here the Lord brought the baby girl mentioned above to our gate. I never guessed she would become family, but when there was no biological family available, it was an easy yes.
Last week, my little girly shouted with glory, ‘I can read. I can read!’ When she left the hospital, I was told she may never really think or act normally. But as you can see, she is my walking miracle. A testament to God’s hand still at work today. Soon after this, more broken families and children showed up at our gate. It was a simple yes—yes, I have a warm house and food to share. Yes, I will help with medical care. Yes, I will love you. Every story is unique—some have come for a night and some to stay.
The Lord has allowed us to touch many lives—one ministry has led to the next in serving my community here. Our newest ministry is a bilingual school where children, who don’t come from well-off families, will be able to get the quality education they deserve for a brighter future.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jillian Snyder. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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