We hope that you and your family are doing well. We are writing to share about a new season for our family- a transition away from the mission field in Mexico. In early June, God began speaking to Willy and I about completing our term as missionary doctors at the end of 2021 so that we could focus more on our growing family. The thought of leaving was very emotional for us. We had repeatedly told each other how we felt the hospital ministry was thriving more than ever before. We both found great meaning and joy in mentoring the medical staff and caring for our patients. There was no “crisis” or conflict that had led us to that decision, and we felt the care and support of our administration.
We decided to trust God with the next chapter of our family’s story. On Friday June 18th, we shared the news of our intended transition with the hospital community. Additionally, we expressed our desire to return to Mexico for educational trips beginning in the summer of 2022, offering courses in advanced life support, malnutrition management and ultrasound.
Three days later, Willy and I were standing at the ticketing counter at the DFW airport juggling passports, two toddlers and a pile of luggage. We were getting ready to board a plane to Mexico after a brief trip to the U.S. which included a prenatal visit for me. My phone rang. It was my OB in Florida calling to have me seen urgently in their office. “You have a condition called vasa previa. You and your baby could bleed to death. You can’t stay in Mexico.” Her voice was calm but insistent. A routine ultrasound that morning had revealed a rare and potentially life-threatening placental abnormality. “Of course,” I stammered, promising to appear in Orlando later that week. But inwardly, I felt numb. Our lives as missionaries in Mexico had just changed in an instant.
A quick Google search filled me in on the unexpected diagnosis that I had never heard of before. Vasa previa (different from placenta previa) is a rare condition affecting approximately 1 in 5,000 pregnancies. In vasa previa, the fetal umbilical cord blood vessels run unprotected across the internal opening of the cervix. If the condition is not diagnosed in advance, the blood vessels can rupture during labor, causing massive blood loss for both mother and baby. Before the advent of ultrasound screening, the majority of cases resulted in stillbirth. Women are often hospitalized a few weeks before delivery in a room next to the operating room should sudden bleeding occur. A c-section is then performed at 35-36 weeks, with a possible NICU stay for the baby.
In spite of the difficult news, Willy and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to God. My diagnosis had been an incidental finding, really an afterthought from the sonographer who checked me. If bleeding had occurred at our rural mission hospital, it could have been catastrophic as we lack OB and anesthesia care. Willy and I were certain that God was protecting and guiding us, even if it wasn’t the path that we had anticipated.
Our grand plans for a smooth, 3-month transition out of Mexico were suddenly smashed into a 24-hour period (welcome to missionary life!) After receiving the news, we boarded the flight to Mexico. I stayed in a hotel in the capital city near a hospital and said goodbye to friends over video call. Willy and the girls traveled to the mission hospital to say goodbye to the staff and pick up a few items like my engagement ring, Bible and our important documents. It reminded me of the question: “If your house is on fire, what valuables would you run in to grab?” That evening, Lucy was invited to a pajama party with her friend Emma and Caroline visited her chickens with Grandpa for the last time.
Thank God, our family made it safely to Florida and we are staying at my parent’s home. We plan to relocate here to live near family but hope to visit many of you in the future! We can now see how God was preparing our hearts for this move even before my diagnosis. On Tuesday, I visited with a doctor specializing in the management of vasa previa. With close monitoring, baby Emily is expected to make a healthy appearance at 36 weeks via C-section (in early September.) We are thankful for the closure (though brief) that we had with our hospital family in Mexico and will continue to support them remotely. Our sending organization Christian Health Service Corps has been an incredible support to us during this transition. We appreciate your prayers as we search for a job for Willy, a school for Lucy and a church community to invest in.
Some of you have contacted us asking if there’s anything we need for the baby. The answer is yes! The majority of our belongings were left behind in Mexico and won’t be picked up until October or November. We’ve created the following Amazon wish list with baby items if you’d like to check it out. Thanks! https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/B5PQS3OG9JM7?ref_=wl_share
Celebrating God’s Faithfulness
We thank God for everything He did in Mexico over the past 3 years, and for your partnership which brought hope and healing to many Tarahumara people in need.
- A special shout out to our wonderful friends at the Samaritan’s Purse Post-Residency Program who went above and beyond to support us during our first 2 years in Mexico. Their generosity helped us renovate our duplex near the hospital that will now serve as a beautiful home for another missionary family.
- In November 2018, many of you gave to help launch the malnutrition backpack project. The project is still going strong and has blessed many Tarahumara children with severe malnutrition. The Tarahumara Fabric Project that followed has given countless women the opportunity to sew and provide for their families while in the hospital. Thank you!
- A major focus during our term was the development of a pediatric malnutrition treatment program for critically ill children. We greatly appreciated those of you who donated formula, vitamins and money to feed these patients. Many lives were saved because of your generosity.
- During the COVID outbreak of October 2020, we mourned the loss of our dear colleague Dr. Pedro. His legacy of service inspired us to start the New Beginnings Project which provides essential newborn supplies and health education to Tarahumara mothers.
- We would run out of words describing the ways that your giving has made an impact through free surgeries, pediatric care and helping to support the distribution of MP3 players with the Gospel message in Tarahumara (to date, over 8,000 MP3 players have been shared in more than 200 communities!)
- Perhaps the biggest blessing for our family was witnessing the growth of the Mexican staff we had the privilege to train and work alongside. We are confident that God will use them in incredible ways as they continue to take the hospital forward.
The Mission Continues
Because of your generous giving through the years, Christian Health Service Corps (CHSC) is channeling funds to sustain programs like the New Beginnings Project and the hospital malnutrition program for years to come. Your donations will also purchase greatly needed medical equipment and help pay the salary of the local staff. Thank you!
CHSC has also made a way for you to continue to make an impact as Hospital Misión Tarahumara grows to reach even more Tarahumara families in need. If you would like to invest in special projects such as village medical work and the prevention of childhood malnutrition, click here: http://igfn.us/f/1rgwxt
- To support other CHSC missionaries serving the Tarahumara in Mexico you can go online to: https://www.healthservicecorps.org/missionaries/latin-america-missionaries/
- To stop your scheduled giving through CHSC, please email Mary Tschoepe at email@example.com
A Special Thank You From Our Family
It has given our family so much joy to share in this journey with you for the past three years. Your friendship, prayers and financial support have meant the world to us. We want to stay in touch and will keep you informed of our plans for short term medical mission trips to Mexico. For future updates, follow us on Facebook at Bustinzas Beyond Borders or visit our blog at www.bustinzasbeyondborders.com.
The Bustinza Family
Willy, Jessee, Lucy, Caroline and Emily Joy