“I was born with spina bifida. My parents did not know I was a girl or that my spinal cord didn’t develop properly. Surprise. God put me in a position where I needed to have a C-section. I was delivered and needed a doctor fast. The doctor I needed wasn’t on call that day but stopped by the hospital to drop off a piece of paper. An hour later, he performed my first operation. I am paralyzed from the knees down and have had more than 10 surgeries on my legs. I have motor skill issues and problems with balance. They thought I would never walk, but they were wrong. I just get tired from walking long distances.
The doctor who performed my surgeries in Puerto Rico didn’t take our insurance so my parents had to pay cash. The surgeries cost a lot of money. If they were missing $300 or $700, someone would show up with the money they owed them or the Lord told them to give us money. It was always the right amount. The doctor told my parents to move to the U.S. for my medical care or they were going to go bankrupt. I was two-and-a-half when we moved to Connecticut. We moved back to Puerto Rico and went to several schools to find the right one. In middle school, I was invisible to the other students and became angry with God. Why did you create me like this? How did you allow this? My self-esteem hit rock bottom and I became depressed. I slept all day because my dreams were better than my reality. I went with my sister to a youth retreat and got right with God. My parents sent me to a school with people with disabilities who were worse off than me and I helped them.
I am thankful that God gave me parents who raised me that I can do anything. I can cook and clean and could live on my own if I wanted to. I always wanted to dance, so I started worship dancing. I started hearing about missionaries and people taking Christ around the world, but I didn’t think I could do that. God told me, ‘who said you can’t?’ I got a job offer to work with Praying Pelican Missions and have been working with them for seven years. I am being called to Jamaica to work at an orphanage that only has special needs kids.
The weeks after Hurricane Maria were so hard on my father to get food and gas and things we needed. He lost a lot of weight. Our news was giving us bits and pieces, but it was my brother living in Connecticut who told us how bad it was. We lived with him for a few months and people were good to us while we were displaced. There are still homes in Puerto Rico that need to be rebuilt. Contractors steal money and make the problem worse. Mission groups are coming in and helping repair and rebuild houses in ways FEMA and our government can’t. A mission group repaired my grandmother’s home and helped her move back in. We have gotten to know our neighbors by taking care of each other. Maria opened the eyes of the world to our small island.”