Through the years, Ricardo and Gloria have served the Shipibo people in countless ways. They have developed an oral program that teaches the Shipibo the Bible in a way that is congruous to their own oral traditions. They have delivered hundreds of water filters deep in the jungle to provide the Shipibo people with clean drinking water. Gloria has taught dozens and dozens of Shipibo women how to sew, and when Ricardo and Gloria host short-term mission teams on board the Evangelista riverboat, Gloria runs everything behind the scenes - meal prep, cleaning, caring for the crew - she is an instrumental part of the ministry to the Shipibo people. Gloria loves to read and engage in spiritual conversation with those around her. She is an incredibly humble and beautiful woman whose main heartbeat is to serve others.
In the late summer of 2017, Gloria began experiencing severe headaches and blurry vision. A visit to the local doctor in Pucallpa resulted in an MRI that showed a dark spot in her brain. He recommended that she see a neurosurgeon in Lima.
Healthcare in Peru is divided into two sectors, public and private insurance. The public national insurance is similar to Medicaid here in the U.S. and protects the most vulnerable in Peru, people who do not have access to private insurance through employment. While it has done a decent job in providing people with access to healthcare, the biggest issue is the wait time to see a specialist.
Gloria made an appointment to see a neurosurgeon in Lima in the fall and at this point, her appointment has been pushed back to February 2018. Every week they wonder if it will be pushed back again, as Gloria's headaches continue to worsen.
Over Christmas, Ricardo and Gloria traveled to Florida to visit their daughter who is in school there. With the help of some faithful friends, Gloria was able to see a doctor and have another MRI that provided some answers.
She has something called a macroadenoma, which is a benign tumor composed of glandular tissue growth larger than 10 mm (those under 10 mm are called microadenomas). They usually form in the adrenal and pituitary glands, but they can also form in the colon, kidneys, and thyroid gland.
The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, the size of a pea, found at the base of the brain. As the “master gland” of the body, it produces many hormones that travel throughout the body, directing certain processes or stimulating other glands to produce other hormones.
The God-Sighting is that this is not cancer and there is a very positive chance of full recovery if the macroadenoma can be removed quickly before it begins pressing in on the optic nerve and destroys sight.
The bad news is that without expedient care, Gloria will lose her sight and could face a host of other issues if the tumor continues to grow.
Because Gloria has a valid and legal visa to travel to the United States, her friends here are doing whatever they can to try and open doors for her to have the surgery here. If she has to wait to have it in Lima, it will most likely be too late to save her sight.
The surgery and care that Gloria will need to remove this tumor here in the U.S. is going to cost upwards of $100,000. Even if they are able to have the surgery done in Lima, it will also cost a hefty sum.
Gloria and Ricardo have impacted thousands of lives through the years, many Shipibo lives and many American lives who have served alongside of them. I am asking for you all to now in turn impact their lives and give generously to allow Gloria to have this surgery to save her sight and restore her health and allow her to continue the ministry that she and Ricardo are so faithfully committed to.
- Jennifer Rehnberg
- Christina Shires
- Fonda Roberts
- Suzy Smith
- Connie Krezelok
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