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The Story of Roxanna

The Story of Roxanna

Not long ago, I was fortunate enough to hear a talk by Sister Lisa Valentini, who was speaking about the work of the Propagation of the Faith. She is a lively and entertaining speaker, relating with joy her experiences as a Catholic Sister. Although much of what she had to say was in fairly broad terms, she did tell a couple of very specific stories, one of which I'd like to pass on to you. As the story unfolds, I suspect that you will see God's hand in so many of the details.

As Sister Lisa tells it, she was working at a school in Peru. Not a school for the poor, this school included children of doctors, lawyers, and even the granddaughter of the President of Peru. Across town, and near the beach, was an orphanage. The town was large enough that it took about an hour to travel from the school to the orphanage by bus, although it was only ten to fifteen minutes by car and folks from Sister's school used to go on Saturdays and take the orphans to the beach.

On one of these beach outings, which happened to be during the Peruvian equivalent of our April school vacation week, Sister looked around and realized that Roxanna wasn't there. Roxanna is one of the orphans, she loves to go to the beach, and Sister was told that Roxanna wasn't feeling well enough to be with the group that day. Too bad, but maybe next Saturday she'd be better. Later that day, after the swimming, one of the orphanage workers asked Sister to come back the next day. Caterina, another of the kids, was having a birthday party, and isn't that so much more fun with music? And the worker knew that Sister plays the guitar. Sister agreed to come back, pending the approval of her Superior.

Next day, Sunday, with her superior's permission, Sister went to the party. Sort of out of the blue, her Superior offered her the use of the school car. After all, the trip is just so long by bus, and it's so much quicker by car. Gratefully, Sister left in the car.

The kids were all laughing and singing and playing, enjoying the party . Time for Caterina to cut the cake, and Sister Lisa looked around and realized that Roxanna wasn't there. Sister Lisa was concerned, and she asked one of the orphanage workers about Roxanna. When she was told that Roxanna was sick in bed, she stepped out of the party room, and went up to the dormitory to find the child. The dormitory was a long room lined with bunkbeds. Sister Lisa walked the length of the room, calling for Roxanna. Eventually, she found the little girl in a top bunk, way at the back of the room. Roxanna was nonresponsive and she had a high fever.

Sister returned to the party and asked someone what the doctor had given Roxanna, and expressed concern because that, whatever it was, it may be too strong for the child. That's when she was told that Roxanna hadn't been seen by a doctor. She had had no medication. There is no doctor in the town or even nearby. The orphanage has a doctor who comes on Wednesdays, and he would evaluate Roxanna when he came next week.

Sister knew this child was very, very sick. Moving quickly, she drove back to her office and pulled out her rolodex of prominent families. She called every pediatrician she could find in her student/parent file. But it was school vacation week, and one was in Disneyworld, another in the Caribbean. At each phone number she called, she found only servants at home. Finally, she gave up on pediatricians, and just hoped that she could find a doctor to examine the child.

Finally, she reached a gynecologist and explained the situation. He told her to take the child and meet him immediately at a local clinic. She drove back to the orphanage, picked up Roxanna, then drove to the clinic as fast as she could. There she handed the child directly to the doctor in the lobby of the clinic. The doctor took the little girl in his arms, and disappeared with her into a treatment room. Sister took out her rosary, and began to pray. She knew already that this was a very serious situation.

Many hours went by, and then sometime in the middle of the night, the doctor came out and told Sister that Roxanne had finally stabilized. Two hours later, there would have been nothing they could do for her. The little girl would have died.

Now personally, I hope Roxanna grows up to become the President of Peru. But whether she does or not, it's clear that it was very important to God that Roxanna survive. And what's also clear is that He entrusted that outcome to human beings. To save the life of that one little child, many different things had to fall into place. Each person in the chain had a specific role to play, and everyone had to say yes to that role.

  1. Sister Lisa had to play the guitar, and she had to make that known.
  2. The director of the orphanage had to want the kids to have music, and had to ask Sister to play at the party.
  3. Sister's superior had to let her go to the party, and also had to offer her the car. With the car, she could go from the party to her office, and then back to the orphanage again to pick up the sick child, and then to the hospital.
  4. Sister had to notice that Roxanne wasn't at the party. She had to be concerned enough to ask, and to go look for the child.
  1. The director of the orphanage had to trust Sister's judgment because a doctor would be there in three days.
  2. The gynecologist had to be available and willing to take a look at the child.

So really, what did God do?

  1. He put the right people in the right place to save this child.
  2. He whispered to the party planner to invite Sister to the party.
  3. He prompted Sister to agree to play her guitar at the party.
  4. He inspired Sister's superior to offer the use of the car that day.
  5. His Spirit alerted Sister that the child isn't where a little girl ought to be, at a birthday party.
  6. He nudged the doctor to agree to interrupt his Sunday afternoon to take a look at the child.

God could have waved his little finger, and performed a miracle, and that child could have been healed. He didn't. Anyone in the human chain could have said no at any time to the suggestions that God made to them. Not one of them did. Because of the collaboration between God and all those people, that little girl is alive today. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? How might each of us be asked to collaborate with God on something that's important to Him?

Linda Riley


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