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The First of a Thousand Steps

We waited in the Doctor's office after a beautiful summer rain had cooled down our 100 degree temps. The Dr. (let's call him Dr. Depressing) was 30 minutes late. While we were waiting we prayed for God's work in Jorge's life and trusted in God's work in this young man. Apparently, Dr. Depressing had had a long week, because he didn't seem to remember us from our first consultation two days ago. He did an Audiogram and a Tympanogram. I waited outside with my pile of books to entertain Timmy during the exam.

He called me in after the testing to tell me gravely that Jorge had not responded positively. He did not hear even the loudest frequency and that he was afraid there was not much hope for him. I started launching my questions:
Would he benefit from a hearing aid?
What about cochlear implants?
Was there a specialized teacher that could help Jorge learn to read and write?

Dr. Depressing looked at me without smiling. In fact, he didn't show any kind of human warmth during our entire visit. He told me that cochlear implants aren't available in Paraguay and he said that he didn't think a hearing device would help, but he gave me the number of an audiologist just to get me off his back.

I called the audiologist before leaving his office and his secretary told me that he doesn't work on Friday afternoons. I sighed (a little loudly) and began to tell our story. She asked me to hold and came back on the phone to say, "Since you came from far away, the doctor will see you!"

We headed straight to his office. My first impression of him was he was an exact replica of "Doc" from Back to the Future. Dressed complete with the long white lab coat, the long white hair and endless energy. He was indeed Dr. Energy!

He immediately hooked Jorge up to a very sophisticated machine. He told me that Jorge had one frequency (I'm translating from Spanish, so I'm not quite sure of the technical term) in his left ear and two in his right. He tried the left ear first and when he spoke, we looked at Jorge to see his response. Nothing. He clapped, nothing. He hit the wall, nothing. Jorge was waiting expectantly, but with each head shake "no" his chin grew longer and his eyes lost their glow. His mom excused herself to go outside and cry. All her hopes, prayers and dreams for her son had been shattered. I went out to hug her and she cried on my shoulder. There were no words to share our disappointment and utter despair. I left her alone outside to grieve and I snuck back inside like a fly on the wall hoping upon a prayer that God would do a miracle in his other ear.

The doctor switched the apparatus to the right ear and he spoke. Nothing. Then he clapped and to our total surprise, Jorge's head jerked. Dr. Energy clapped again and Jorge smiled the biggest grin I've seen on this child. He shook his head "yes" and showed with his thumb and index finger that he heard a little bit. I called for his mom to come quickly. She ran inside to see her son's face light up the room! Jorge motioned for Dr. Energy to make more noises. Dr. Energy said, "Ho Laaaa" "Ho Laaaa" and Jorge gleamed. He motioned for Jorge to repeat the words and unbelievably, Jorge said, "Ho Laaaa" back. Then Dr. Energy mouthed with exaggerated movement, "Ma maaa" and Jorge repeated him like a little parrot. This time, Jorge's mom cried tears of joy, not tears of sorrow. She had not heard her son call her by name since he was a baby, before the meningitis.

Now Jorge wanted to hear his parents talk. He pointed to his dad and when he spoke, Jorge hugged him. When his mother spoke, he stroked her face. They all embraced and hot tears starting rolling down my face. I didn't feel I had the right to be an outsider looking in on this precious family moment, but I was so incredibly thankful at that moment for the miracle of modern technology and that God heard our prayers.

Dr. Energy started pacing around the room like a restless tiger. He was delighted with the results and continued to make different sounds, explaining that Jorge had lost the ability to recognize an object with its particular sound, but would quickly recuperate the most powerful hearing aid he carries, Siemens Infinity Super Power. While Jorge has severe hearing loss, he will be able to pick up tones and will possibly be able to speak again with training. Jorge started making all different kinds of noises; he was banging the table and hitting the floor. When his parents scolded him, Dr. Energy said, "Let him experiment with his new ears!"

As we were heading out the door, Jorge almost didn't get into the car. He told his mom that he wanted to take the hearing aid home. She explained that we have to buy it first. He asked if he could spend the night at Dr. Energy's clinic. Dr. Energy was so gracious, he didn't even charge us for his time or the tests. I hated to leave, knowing how much that hearing aid will change everything about his existence.

Yesterday was the type of day that I wish I had every day. It felt like Jorge was given new life. It's the bringing sight to the blind and sound to the deaf that is part of the holistic ministry we seek.

The hearing aid will cost $800 including a fitting and two-three check ups. This is the first of a thousand steps for Jorge. We desperately want Jorge to have new ears. If you know of a foundation that could help Jorge, please let me know! If you or your church wants to help us buy the hearing aid, click on the green donate button on the right hand side of our webpage and designate "Paraguay Jorge".


  1. How great to find your blog! We live and work in Escobar, Departamento de Paraguarí, where we coach missionary learners of Guarani.

  2. Oh, wow! What a story! I can't imagine how that mother ran the gamut of feelings in just a few minutes, from hopelessness all the way to joy over her son hearing her voice. Thank you so much for sharing this story, and please keep us posted.


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