Reflections on Haiti by Janet Ortega

2013-10-31 06.20.28Just last November, I couldn’t believe that I was on a plane heading to Haiti. From a brochure in my doctor’s office, I learned about the LEAP Foundation and, three years later, I had the privilege of being part of the Haiti team. It was my first time to do anything like this and here I was, traveling with 29 people, who were all set on one goal, to enhance the lives of others.

When we arrived at the hospital in Port-au-Prince, I was ready to hit the ground running for our five-day trip with about thirty-plus surgical procedures expected over the next three days. We immediately began seeing patients in evaluation, talking with their families and getting them ready for their surgeries. I had the opportunity to be the photographer on the trip. So I was able to follow the patients from pre-op through surgery, post-op, then back again into the arms of their loving parents.

One little boy, when he first opened his big eyes in the post-op area and first realized that he had use of his hand again was one of my most favorite moments on this trip. His expression, getting to see his hand open for the first time, was so moving that I will never forget that precious moment. My daughter, Jessica, was also able to travel with the team as well, so I was able to share this experience with her. Because Jessica is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Pharmacy, this trip gave her a deeper love for people. Getting to see that spark in her while she cared for these children changed her life. I also gained a huge respect for the doctors and nurses all working together during the surgeries as one singular unit. I have never witnessed anything like this experience before. The team members were literally from different walks of life back in the States, but in those two operating rooms in Haiti, it was as if they had been colleagues for years.

As with any third world country, Hatians are a resilient people, and having the opportunity to positively affect their lives in such a profound way is extraordinary. A lot of hard work and dedicated staff make LEAP mission trips happen; and, being a volunteer has opened my eyes to all that, I, one person, can do when working with such a team. How did I get picked to be a part of something so wonderful? Here I was, holding these babies, meeting their grateful parents, hearing all of their stories and taking their amazing photos. It was an unspeakable dream, a great deal of hard work, but it was the most fulfilling thing that I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of in my life. While I had known that I was supposed to be a part of something like this for eleven years and, getting to see my prayers answered not only increased my faith in God, but it absolutely showed me that God, in His timing, gives me the desires of my heart.

So when the plane departs DFW on May 1 to travel to Haiti, I will be on this flight to be a part of another LEAP surgical team. More beautiful children served, many more lives healed, and more experiences that will enrich my life all of my days. I shall most definitely not return the same.

by Janet Ortega, Volunteer

ISAPS-LEAP Surgical Relief Teams© – Jordan Missions Update

Our latest update on our current mission in Amman, Jordan.
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Update on Logan

Logan 3/31/14

Baby Logan stole our hearts the moment we met him on February 5, 2013. This sweet child was born in China on September 2, 2012, with a severe craniofacial cleft, palate and amniotic band deformity. LEAP learned of this tiny orphan through a partner organization in China, and within a month, Dr. Hobar was working on securing a visa to bring him to the United States for complex surgery. At only five months of age, he made the long journey from Beijing to Dallas, and within a few weeks underwent the first of three corrective surgeries in 2013. The first included inserting a feeding tube, as he was unable to take food by mouth. The latter two were on March 26 and August 27, 2013. Logan has recovered from these surgeries and has been doing well since.

Host mom, Pam Newell, took him in, and set about searching for a forever family to adopt him. She describes him as a happy baby, who loves her dogs and squeals with delight whenever Pam’s Chihuahua licks him. He is cuddly, and curious, and just took his first steps this week!

On September 2, 2013, he celebrated his first birthday with family and friends at home. Pam said that he was so excited before the party that he exhausted himself and had to nap for part of the festivities. There was a wonderful turnout with approximately 70 people celebrating along with Logan.

Several families seemed to be good prospects for adopting Logan, but for one reason or another, they all fell through. Pam, who has been the extraordinarily loving host mom to Logan since he was a tiny baby, is now in the process of adopting him. “I think God just meant for him to stay with me. I’m not sure why that is, but I am loving it, and he is thriving”, says Pam. Logan’s pediatrician is very pleased with his growth and progress. With the feeding tube removed, he eats almost everything and has a mouth full of teeth! He is thriving indeed! At 16 months, Logan already sleeps in a toddler bed, and awakens most mornings with a smile on his face.  Pam recently decorated his new room and was joined by ten friends who showed up to help. “I am still overwhelmed each day with all of those around me that want to do something for Logan”, says Pam.

Logan will need at least two more major surgeries in the coming year to further reconstruct his eye socket, eyelid, and face. And his LEAP family will be there.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Lenten Prayer from Dallas Bible Church

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In our sixth week of Lent, the LEAP Foundation celebrates its longstanding partnership with Dallas Bible Church led by Pastor Hal Habecker. This congregation has had members travel with LEAP on mission trips and continues to actively support us in their prayers and by their presence. This church is home to Board of Director, Dr. Pat Pownell, who faithfully blesses us by his strong leadership and extraordinary dedication to LEAP.

In our final week, the LEAP Foundation prays for Dallas Bible Church; specifically, we pray on their behalf for their ministries in the following ways:

1. We pray the first building campaign for this church family in 15 years will be infinitely blessed, that God will lead these faithful members as He directs during their planning and execution.

2. We pray for this church as they continue to minister to those in need, particularly those within a five-mile radius of this church. We pray for the activities of the church as they minister to all ages of adults, youth and children.

3. We pray for the church’s leadership in their decisions that impact the growth and direction of the body.

4. We pray for the many missionaries this church supports locally, in the state, country, and all over the world.

5. We also pray for the health and support of Pastor Habecker, his family, the associate pastors and their families, and for all of those that work and bless this church in service to others.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
- John 10:10

Landmark Outing

2013 wolfe bannister newel at sandy lake park

Pam Newell is an extraordinary person. She has fostered sweet Logan from China since he was just an infant. Pam’s late husband was a history buff who collected a few Russian items, and she wanted these beautiful treasures to be received by those who would love and appreciate them. Pam offered them to Mason and Alena, both of whom are Russian. All three of these beautiful children have come together through LEAP’s Landmark Program.

Mason (left), Logan (center) and Alena (right), along with Miranda (holding Logan) and her sister, Madison (far right), all joined in for a fun reunion at Sandy Lake Park last Sunday. The weather was beautiful and everyone enjoyed the rides. Logan was brave enough to ride his very first ride, the merry-go-round, with the help and protective watch of mom, Pam. The favorite activity was playing with Logan who has been “growing like crazy.”

The LEAP Foundation could not be happier to share in these children’s lives. It is truly touching to see how these families have been brought together in Christ’s love. For more information on the Landmark Program or the stories of these children, please visit our website: www.leap-foundation.org/landmark

Special thanks to Katherine Berend and to these families for providing this story and keeping us up-to-date on these active, happy children who are so dear to our hearts.

Lenten Prayer from Victory Life Church

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Pastor Seth Swindall of Victory Life Church of Atoka, Oklahoma, prays the following prayer on behalf of LEAP:

“Father God,

You have placed talent in each one of us, and you have asked us to use what you have given us to serve humanity! I thank you for LEAP! I thank you for gathering talented women and men that have a heart to serve the less fortunate, the hurting, and the broken! I pray that you will fill them with your love that will overflow abundantly upon every person they come in contact with on each of their trips to serve!

May you give them favor and open doors for them that no man can open. May you protect them – provide for them – and guide them each step of the way!

As they serve and sacrifice – may they receive a reward and blessing that only you can give! May their trips be filled with peace and safety and may many come to know your love because of their kind deeds!

Thank you for helping them as they honor and represent your name with dignity, generosity, and integrity!

In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.”

As this church family prays for us, we ask that our LEAP family also pray for Victory Life Church of Atoka and this pastor and his family.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
- John 10:10

Lenten Prayer from Bear Creek Bible Church

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Senior Pastor John Salvesen of Bear Creek Bible Church in Keller, prays the following prayer on behalf of LEAP:

“Dear Heavenly Father,

We thank you for being a perfect Father Who is gracious and kind and full of mercy. We pray for the fathers and mothers of these little children who need reconstructive surgeries. We pray that their sadness would be replaced with joy for their children’s conditions as LEAP doctors apply their craft. We thank you that LEAP exists and has helped so many in disadvantaged nations. Their work is praise to you, the Great Physician and Healer. They are revealing your attributes of mercy, grace and healing to the world in a tangible way. We pray that the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone would accompany the work of LEAP, so that the beneficiaries of LEAP’s work would not only be relieved of pain in this life, but will also be freed from their sin and know You in all eternity.

We pray that the staff, volunteers of LEAP would be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. That they would be safe and healthy in all their travels, and they would be given the necessary resources so that their work can continue and even expand. We pray for continued unity and effectiveness for them as well. We ask you to bless the children in spiritual and physical ways so that more praise and thanksgiving can be offered to You. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”

As this church family prays for us, we ask that our LEAP family also pray for Pastor John, his church family at Bear Creek Bible Church, and our LEAP family members, Monty and Melisa Wolfe and George and Alexandra Goode. We are blessed!

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
- John 10:10

Lenten Prayer from The Church at Lake Travis

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Pastor Jeremy Self of The Church at Lake Travis in Austin, prays the following prayer on behalf of LEAP:

“Heavenly Father, during this Lenten season, we turn away from ourselves and our desires and turn to you. We repent. And, as we repent, we remember that you have called us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow you. When I think about the LEAP Foundation, it brings great joy to my heart because they embody your call to deny themselves, pick up the cross of Christ and follow you into some of the hardest places in the world. My prayer for LEAP is that they would not grow weary in their work. I pray you would strengthen with the power of the Holy Spirit the administrators, the doctors, the intercessors, and everyone who makes LEAP the redeeming, reconciling ministry that it is for your glory. Thank you that LEAP is in the business of making you look good to the nations. May you be faithful to your Word in supplying every need they have as they seek to do your work. And, may the teams that go to serve with LEAP be filled with the Holy Spirit so that they may share Jesus verbally with those met along the way. We remember this Lenten season that you came to seek and save the lost. And, we thank you that you sought us out and saved us through dying on a cross and being raised from the dead. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

As this church family prays for us, we ask that our LEAP family also pray for The Church at Lake Travis and this pastor and his family. Pastor Self and his lovely wife, have recently adopted a beautiful daughter, Ella, from Haiti, a child who received surgical care while the LEAP team was in Haiti early last year. This family has since connected with the LEAP family in a deep and meaningful way. We are doubly blessed.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
- John 10:10

Lenten Prayer from 121 Community Church

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The second week of lent will be led by Pastor Rodney Howell, Mission & Equipping Pastor for 121 Community Church, who offers the following prayer on behalf of the LEAP Foundation:

 

“Father in Heaven,
You deserve all praise as the one, sovereign God over all the universe.
You are a Father to the Fatherless and the defender of widows, and the rescuer of all who are oppressed and broken.
You are the one who heals and gives life, and You have shown your love to those who have been cast aside or ignored by the world.
Thank you for the work of the LEAP Foundation to reflect Your love in very tangible ways. We ask that doors would be open to share the good news about Your Son, even as LEAP staff and volunteers serve in selfless ways that reflect Jesus as the one who came to both serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
Bring hope, we ask You Lord, to those who are hopeless. Give life to those who feel their life is not worth living. Change individual lives and change whole communities by physical healing and restoring broken souls, transforming individual hearts and entire communities.
Thank You for the stewardship of time, abilities, and finances for those who serve through LEAP, and we ask for You to multiply the effectiveness of this foundation beyond what could ever be possible without Your sovereign hand.
As we move through the Lent period toward a great celebration at Easter, we ask that You would make it possible for us to join thousands in some of the most remote places of the world in praise of You for sending Your Son. We pray for more and stronger local churches to be birthed in those areas, and for more and more to know and experience the good news of Your Kingdom through knowing Jesus Christ.
In His Name alone we come to you with these requests, Amen”

But for the Grace of God

prishaPrisha’s story is as unforgettable as her infectious smile. Her life began precariously. Prisha’s mother was severely abused by her father, even during her pregnancy. When Prisha was born with a cleft lip and palate, her father’s anger was so great, that her mother feared for Prisha’s safety and fled with her to her parents’ village.

When Prisha was two years old, her father asked her mother for forgiveness. With the promise of change and a new life, they returned home. Yet nothing had changed.

One day, Prisha’s mother returned home from work and her two-year-old was nowhere to be found. Searching frantically, her attempts to find her daughter enraged her husband. Terrified for her baby girl, yet unable to find Prisha, she was hopeless, and once again took refuge with her parents. She soon learned that Prisha’s father had sold the toddler to a gang in Delhi for $60, where she was put on the streets to beg. Her mother rushed to Delhi and through nothing short of a miracle, she found Prisha. She managed to purchase her sweet girl back from the gang for $30. With Prisha tucked safely in her arms, her mother took refuge in her parents’ home.

That same year, Prisha’s grandfather found a flyer for the CICM-LEAP cleft pallet camp in Damoh. In February 2009, after a long journey, the family finally found hope when they met the LEAP team. LEAP surgeons determined that her health was too poor for surgery. She was given a plan to improve her health, and the following year, was strong enough for the first of two procedures on her cleft. The second surgery was performed two years later.

Prisha returned to school and now lives with her mother and her grandparents. Her father is not allowed to visit her, or to travel to the region. Through the grace of God, Prisha is safe and her life is finally normal.

[For her protection, 'Prisha' is a pseudonym, meaning beloved, God's gift. For the same reason, she is not in the above photograph]