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Adventist Mission


Hole in the Heart

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, May 23.

By Andrew McChesney


era was born in Uzbekistan with a hole in her heart. When she was 4, the doctor said she needed to undergo an operation to repair the hole, or she would die.

But a heart operation cost a lot of money. Lera’s parents didn’t have that kind of money. They didn’t know what to do. Lera’s grandmother, who lived with them, also didn’t have that kind of money. But she knew what to do. She prayed. “Dear God,” she prayed, “please let my little Lera live.”

Then another doctor heard about Lera’s heart. She was a Christian. She knew that Lera’s family couldn’t afford the operation. She did some research and learned that some kind people were paying for eight children from Uzbekistan to get free heart operations in South Korea every year. She prayed for Lera to be accepted into the program.

After the prayer, Mother came to Lera.

“You will go to South Korea,” she said. “They will feed you ice cream there. Would you like to go?”

Lera liked ice cream. “Yes, I’ll go,” she said.

Grandmother wanted to go, too. She had enough money to buy her own airplane ticket. But the kind people in South Korea said she couldn’t go. “Only the child,” they said.

Lera boarded an airplane with seven other children and flew to South Korea. It was scary seeing new doctors in South Korea. The doctors seemed a little scared to see Lera. She was the smallest and the youngest of all the children. They were surprised that she had been chosen for the operation.

“She is so small,” one doctor said.

“How did they allow her to come here?” said another.

But they promised to do their best to help.

Two days after Lera arrived, she met a kind woman doctor who asked, “What do you like most of all to eat?”

That was an easy question.

“Ice cream!” Lera exclaimed.

The doctor took the little girl to the store, and Lera chose green pistachio ice cream to eat. The doctor also bought ice cream for all the other children.

Lera was the last of the eight children to undergo a heart operation. When the doctors finished, they declared the operation a success. They had repaired the hole.

Two weeks later, Lera flew home. She took with her a suitcase packed with pencils, notebooks, and albums with photos of her time in South Korea. It was a gift from the doctors.

Back in Uzbekistan, Lera recovered quickly. She didn’t get sick or have any other complications. She was a healthy little girl.

Father was happy. Mother was happy. But Grandmother perhaps was the most happy.

Every evening, Grandma called her to come and pray together before bedtime.

The old woman and the little girl knelt down by the bed. Grandmother prayed first. “Thank You for being near to my granddaughter and helping her go to South Korea,” she said. “Thank You for giving her life.”

Then Lera prayed, “God, thank You for everything. Amen.”

Today, Lera is a strong, healthy girl. She is a Pathfinder who sings special music and plays the violin in church. The only reminder of the hole in her heart is a scar on her chest from the operation.

“The scar reminds me that God saved my life,” she said. “If I hadn’t had the operation, I would have died. God blessed me.”

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open the first Seventh-day Adventist elementary school in Uzbekistan, where Lera lives. Thank you for planning a generous offering on June 29.