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The Kids - Elias

During a visit to the Janelle Doyle Baptist Children’s Home, an orphanage in Manaus, in December of 1998, while handing out Christmas gifts (toys, sandals, and hats), we noticed one of the little boys had severe scars from burns on his left arm. Then, while trying on shoes, we noticed that his right foot was severely scarred and that the scar tissue went all the way up the back of his right leg. When we asked the director of the orphanage about him, we found out that his name was Elias, he was 5 years old, and he and his brothers were in the orphanage temporarily. His mother is a single mom, works, and takes care of the family on very little income.

When Elias was two years old, the house caught on fire. The mom was away from the house getting water, and his brother and sister, a year or two older than Elias, ran out of the house leaving him in a hammock, asleep. No one is sure how he got out, but it appears that he was only able to flee the burning house after his hammock burned out from underneath him. He was given minimal treatment initially for burns on his legs, back, and arms. By the time we saw him, almost four years later, he was left with leathery, disfiguring scar tissue and a few still–open sores. He needed treatment for the banding caused by the burns. He was not able to straighten his left arm or raise it above his shoulder, and it was very difficult for him to straighten his legs.

In May of 1999, John Mark accompanied Elias, and his mother, Raimunda, to Springfield, Missouri, where Dr. Good had arranged treatment by Dr. Ford,pediatric surgeon, and Dr. Mystrick, plastic surgeon, for Elias’ burns. His treatment was extensive and included a colostomy, surgical removal of the banding from his arms and legs, amputation of some toes, approximately 450 stitches at one time, z-plasty, and some skin grafting of the more damaged areas,

It was a lengthy and painful process, but the physicians, nurses, hospital staff, therapists – all involved, were patient, kind, and extremely generous. When not in the hospital, Elias and his mother were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House of the Ozarks in Springfield. Dr. Good, his family and many volunteers from First Baptist, Springfield, were very involved and extremely helpful. Retired missionaries, Bill and Carol Levergood, also provided invaluable help as translators. The “Miles for Kids in Need” program of American Airlines was also able to help with domestic air passage for the two. It was truly a team effort, blessed by God. 

Two months later, Elias and Raimunda returned to Manaus and to their family. The scarred skin that was taut and binding had been loosed, at least for now. Elias still has scar tissue, and he may need more surgery in the future as he grows, but for now, his life is a little simpler and he has wonderful memories of all those people that care.