29 Oct Day 19: Natalia, part 1

“For I am the Lord who heals you.”
Exodus 15:26

Natalia, Jardelho, and their children

We arrived together. New to the Hope family. I was Philip’s new girlfriend, soon to be fiancée. Natalia, 12, had just been sent to our program from another state. For some reason, we connected. She understood my communication. Exaggerated hand gestures accompanied by infantile “Spanglish.” Thus, she became my interpreter, of sorts.

Publicly she was always outspoken and articulate. She journaled everything. She wrote poetry. She loved liturgical dance. She wanted to be a missionary doctor, and she started college right after she graduated.

Jardelho, one of our graduates, adored her. He was working for Hope 1200 miles away as head house parent of Hope Mountain in Vitória. She was dating someone else, but he continued to pray for her heart to change so she would marry him. And she did.

After serving together in Vitória for some years, they moved back to Campinas. I remember the day their first child was born. Jardelho was filling out some paperwork when he suddenly started to weep. “What’s wrong?” Natalia asked. He showed her the paperwork for the birth certificate. There was a place to fill in the names of close relatives. He had been abandoned as a child. Through his tears, he explained that he had no names to fill in. “What are you talking about?” Natalia asked. “Hope Unlimited is our family. Our son has more uncles and aunts than 10 children combined!”
Today they have three kids, and they are living on campus and serving as our Residential Staff Coordinators. Their youngest had a stroke in utero and has some learning differences.
If there was ever a child of Hope Unlimited—in fact a poster child—she is it. We are her family. Last month, Natalia, now 35, was feeling ill. By the time she got to the hospital, she was unconscious. They diagnosed her as having had a stroke. After a week in ICU, she is now home and seems to be recovering well. We remain unsure of the cause. What we do know is they need us to love on them as any extended family would. If you would like to send a card to Natalia, you can do so by writing to the Hope office.

If you are reading this—a supporter of Hope—you are part of her family. Please pray for Natalia as you would one of your own family members. Pray for restored health for her and for the doctors to find the root of the issue. And pray for Jardelho, who took her illness very hard. He loves her so much, and he can’t imagine raising their three children without a mother.