Johnny’s Story

The Shoe Box Baby

Weighing only 2 pounds, Johnny was found in the trash by garbage men on the streets of Quito (the capital of Ecuador). He was brought to the office of Corina de Velasco, the wife of the President of Ecuador, by a trash truck driver. Henry Davis was in her office at the time. She said to Henry, “Could you possibly take him home to your house?” Dorothy was cooking dinner at the time for visitors from the U.S., but their meal had to wait while everyone got in the car and took Johnny to two different hospitals. Neither would receive him, saying, “He will just die here. If he has any chance at all, it will be in your home with North Americans.” Dorothy did not even know how to make formula, so she found some molasses in a neighborhood garage store, and mixed it into some milk. He took a swig and slept for five hours. The next day they found a doctor who said, “He is trying to die. Wake him up every half hour and force him to eat”. For lack of funds or anything better, Dorothy used a cardboard shoebox of Henry’s, filled it with cotton balls, placed a fluffy towel over them, and wrapped Johnny is a soft receiving blanket to carry him to church in.  The lid was perfect for keeping out the cold night air, but allowing him oxygen to breathe. Corina made him a birth certificate and we named him Juan Marco Paz Vera. (“John Mark Peace” in English). Dorothy cared for him until he was seven months old and in good health, and then he went to the orphanage to live. Johnny is a naturally gifted musician, playing the guitar and drums. He sings solos and composed a song for our 25th Anniversary of the Orphanage, “Jesus and the Missionary Saved My life.” Johnny is now married and has three beautiful daughters.

Rafico’s Story

 Rafico (Raphael Yamuca)

Rafico was a 7-year-old Otavalo Indian boy from the town of Otavalo, Ecuador, South America. One night, his parents, in a drunken stupor, tied him to the railroad tracks muttering that they had eight other children and didn’t need so many. Rafico managed to wiggle free from the ropes except for one leg, which he lost above the knee when the train came. Some neighbors saved his life. The wife of Ecuador’s President, Corina de Velasco Ibarra, became aware of his case and contacted Henry Davis, founder of the Happiness Foundation, seeing if it would be possible to take Rafico to the U.S. for treatment. Arrangements were made, and God led them to Dr. Westbrook in Visalia, California, who performed several successful surgeries. Eventually, the wonderful day came for Rafico to be fitted for his artificial leg. Somehow, no one knows how, the Associated Press picked up on these events, and his story was on the front page of many U.S. newspapers in cities such as New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles.

The Miami Herald, which is widely read in South America, is one of the newspapers that placed the article on its front page. The paper made its way to Brazil, up the Amazon River, and into  the hands of a 65-year-old man from Oklahoma who worked for Texaco and was helping build an oil pipeline through the Amazon jungle. The Lord touched his heart as he read the story about Rafico, that he wrote home to his wife and told her about it.

Six months later, Texaco transferred this man and his crew over to Ecuador (as they had discovered oil there), with the task of building a pipeline up over the Andes Mountains and out to the Ecuadorian coast for exportation. That pipeline “just happened” to cross the Happiness Foundation upper property line. They asked if they could use the Foundation’s access road to get up to the top of the property to work on the pipeline. Day after day, the trucks and equipment passed by. One day, the man from Oklahoma asked Henry if this was an orphanage. When Henry answered “yes,” the man began telling Henry about an article he read in the Miami Herald about a boy named Rafico. Henry just smiled and asked, “Would you like to meet that boy?” The man couldn’t believe it, and began weeping as he met Rafico.

This man was so blessed that he and his crew used their large earth moving equipment to transform the steep slope and ravines of the campus by grading a soccer field (World Championship size), a 50,000-gallon water reservoir, a site for a church, and a basketball court…all at no charge.

Because of the need for more trips to the U.S. as Rafico’s leg grew, John and Jerry Rohrig (Henry’s aunt and uncle) cared for him for the time necessary for his growth to be completed. He graduated from high school in the U.S. and returned to Ecuador speaking English. He then worked with a single missionary lady, accompanying medical groups to poor areas of Ecuador and translating for them. On one of these trips, an optometrist took an interest in him and sent him to a university. Today, Raphael is an optometrist in Quito. He is married and has a family.

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