Medical Support

My husband, Steve, I are needgreaters in Ecuador and have lived here for four years. We currently live in Amaluza, a tiny pueblo on the Peruvian border, and are part of a 12 publisher isolated Spanish group.  It has been a privilege to serve alongside young, strong Ecuadorian pioneers that serve Jehovah with vigor.

Unfortunately, my 20-year battle with Ulcerative Colitis has taken its toll on me for the last two years.  The doctors in the closest city, Loja, have been unsuccessful in treating me.  I could no longer leave the house, slept all day and night, and was fighting a loosing battle.

A couple of weeks ago, Steve made me a bed in the back of our 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser and hauled me off to Cuenca, where the good doctors are.  It took us two days to get there, but we made it.  The doctor gave me a colonoscopy, and too his horror discovered my ENTIRE colon was inflamed and bleeding.  Off to the hospital I was sent.

I am now recuperating "en casa" with local Witness friends.  We expect to be in Cuenca for at least a month before another colonoscopy is prescribed to determine my improvement.  So far, my progress has been very slow, but steady.  I take Prednisone, which swells me up, making it difficult and painful to walk.  The expensive thing is the Ulcerative Colitis medicine, Mesalazine, $16 a day.

We purchased  health insurance a year ago, but they have gotten into financial trouble.  Just as we needed to use it, they no longer have doctors they pay.  They claim they will reimburse us, at the out-of-network rate, but that just isn't happening.  Other Witness friends are out thousands of dollars waiting on reimbursement from this company.

Our income is based upon a simple Social Security check and what money I can make online (I assist people who sell on Amazon, Walmart, eBay, etc.).  Normally, this is sufficient for us to survive here month to month.  We live simply, like the Ecuadorians.  Unfortunately, my work has dropped off, and do to my illness, I found it difficult to drum up new clients.  

This emergent event has taken every penny we have and future SS funds as well.  I have to have money to keep taking the medicine.  The colonoscopy will cost another $400.  We have borrowed money so I could be released from the hospital.  We are in need and humbly are asking for help.  This is a difficult and embarrassing situation for us to be in.  It has also been spiritually discouraging, because I am unable to participate fully in the ministry that I so love.

We have also determined that we just live too far from civilization, given our age and health.  We have put all our belongings into storage and are seeking housing near the city of Manta on the coast.  We are looking there because the altitude of the Andes mountains has proved to be too much.  Steve is 61 years young, but climbing rocky paths has become dangerous.  The coast is a bit more level and a place that he can breathe easier. 

This move is also unexpected and expensive, but necessary to keep us healthy and safe.  We are looking forward to our new, 20 publisher congregation (if we can find housing in Santa Marianita) and getting back to preaching.  I have a long way to go for my health to improve, but we think we are making the right decision and that Jehovah will continue to bless our efforts here in Ecuador.  

If any of your are able to help us purchase medicine and pay for my treatment we would be so appreciative.  Five or ten dollars can go a long way in helping me get healthy and strong.  Jehovah loves a cheerful giver.  2 Cor 9:7.
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Heather Larissa Martin 
Avondale, AZ
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