Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Dear Friends -

I would like to introduce you to someone very special to me.  Her name is Elvira (pronounced "L - veer - ah") and here is a picture of us together.

The Rush Family calls her Ellie.

I met Ellie when I went to Guatemala on a mission trip this past August with my oldest daughter Ryley. We stayed at Hope of Life, a mission that does many, many charitable things for the people of Zacapa, Guatemala.

On the campus of Hope of Life, there is a Baby Rescue Center.  This is a safe haven where babies who have been abandoned are brought to be nourished back to health. Sometimes, the babies are brought to the Rescue Center by a mother who can no longer care for her child but more commonly, these babies have been left to die.

I spent much of my time in the Baby Rescue Center - snuggling, holding, tickling, and feeding these precious little ones.

On my second day in the Center, I found her.

A skinny little baby with huge eyes had just arrived, rescued from a dumpster the night before.  I took one look at her sitting in a crib and scooped her up in my arms.  She literally wrapped herself around my neck, her tiny feet by one of my ears and her sweet face by my other.  I whispered in her ear and called her my little "monkey baby" because even though I was cradling her in my arms, I could've let go and she would've held on to me.  She couldn't have weighed much more than the bulky scarf my daughter Reagan knitted me last Christmas.

While it was hot and many of the babies (and myself) were sweaty, my Ellie was drenched and she had a very slight, almost greenish-yellow tint to her skin.  Milk was brought to me and I began to feed Ellie.  Watching her struggle to drink her bottle, seeing beads of sweat form on her face, and feeling her skin get clammy, I was struck by the familiar scene.

Almost 4 years ago, I watched my own daughter struggle to feed in this exact same way.

And sitting in that Baby Rescue Center in Zacapa, Guatemala, holding sweet baby Ellie, my heart shattered.  Because I knew.

You see, my daughter Lily was born with a ventricular septal defect, or VSD.  She had a hole in her little strawberry sized heart, a hole about the size of a dime.  She would need surgery to repair it and time was of the essence.

One of the difficulties that babies with heart conditions have is gaining weight.  Drinking a bottle of milk is like sprinting a mile.  The calories in the milk ingested to help a baby grow and develop are burned off in the simple act of feeding.  These babies burn calories just by breathing.    The natural body processes that keep them alive are like a never ending workout.  Simply stated, being alive is physical exertion.

This is why babies with heart conditions are often sweaty.  And sweat even more when they are feeding.

The Rush family temporarily moved to Houston, TX so that our precious baby Lily could undergo open heart surgery at 4 months of age.  While Lily still has some issues, today her heart is perfect!  She will never need another heart surgery and only sees her cardiologist every two years.  For that, we give much thanks and praise to the Lord.

But what about Ellie?  Since she is a new arrival to the Rescue Center, she is still being checked out by the doctor.  I start asking lots of questions and discover that Ellie is around 2 years old and yes, she does need heart surgery.

From that moment on, I was a woman on a mission!

I spent as much time as I could with Ellie and anytime I wasn't with her, I was trying to solve the how, when, and where of her heart surgery.

I started asking about adoption, temporary medical visas; anything and everything I could possibly think of.  But those things take too long and Ellie doesn't have the luxury of unlimited time.  I called Ryan in a panic and he suggested getting Ellie's surgery done at the best hospital close to the Rescue Center.  I talked with Carlos, the owner of Hope of Life and we decided that the surgery would be done in Guatemala City.  Ellie would need a more thorough evaluation by a cardiologist to determine the extent of her surgery, how quickly it would need to be done, and how much the cost would be.

My trip was coming to a close and Ryley and I had to return home to Austin.  Leaving Ellie was very hard for me.  Carlos promised to let me know as soon as he had all the information.

Last week, I finally got that information.  Ellie's total cost for surgery will be $10,000 and needs to be done as soon as possible.  While that amount is miniscule compared to the cost of Lily's surgery, it is still an amount I cannot simply write a check for and solve the problem.

This is where you come in.

WorldHelp, a wonderful missions organization, is helping me coordinate this effort so that anyone who wants to can receive a tax deduction.  Also, they are able to get the funds to Hope of Life very quickly.  So you can give online at WorldHelp.net specifically for Ellie.  Here is the 
link to make it easy for you. 

If you prefer, you can send a check to me and I'll get it to them immediately.  My address is below.  

Time is of the essence, as you can imagine.  There's a part of me that believes God put me in Ellie's life - with all that we've had to go through with Lily - for such a time as this.  The Rush family is scrambling right now to find ways to give as much as we possibly can, and we are praying that some friends will consider doing the same.  Please feel free to forward this email along to whoever you think might like to contribute.  

Those who know me well are aware that I've never sent out anything like this before.  I just feel such a special connection to Ellie and our family is praying that we can make a difference in the life of this little girl.  If nothing else, I'm attaching another picture at the bottom of this message.  If you could print it out and keep it with you so that it reminds you to pray for her, we'd be very grateful.  And again, please spread the word to everyone you know!  Every little bit helps.  

Thank you so much for being a part of this miracle!

Lana Rush

1 comment:

  1. God bless you and this precious baby! Thank you for being the hands & feet of Jesus.


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