We were having an early Christmas dinner and when we went to refill the Fondue burner, it exploded. While my sisters ran upstairs to hide and my dad threw my mom on the floor and rolled her around, I ran back and forth to the kitchen 2 times with water in a faded green tupperware container. When the fire was out, my mom held up her arms and her skin was hanging off. She asked for a mirror and ibuprofen. We had no idea what we were doing, so we ran to get our beach towels, soaked them in water and covered her skin in them. After calling one of my parents friends, Greg Bryce, he arrived and we helped my mom walk, yes walk, out to our land cruiser and drive her to the nearest hospital.
My dad left me and my sisters behind in Bolivia. I remember going to the airport to say goodbye. She was in the ambulance and we were peeking in the window to look at her and talk to her. I didn't think that I would even see her again. A week later my dad returned to Bolivia with plans to take me and my sisters back to the USA with him. We had trouble getting out of the country because my mom wasn't there to sign paperwork. I remember my dad had brought back gifts from North Metro Church...a purple hairdryer and a makeup case. After he told us to pack 2 weeks worth of stuff for our trip, I took my new hairdryer and makeup, some clothes and shoes and packed them into my pink monogramed duffle.
Once we arrived in the USA, we were picked up in Miami by my Uncle Russell and we went home to our 800 sq ft house. My 3 sisters and I shared a tiny room with 2 bunks. When we went into our room to dump our bags, we found that people had left gifts on our beds. Sweet Pea Body Spray from Bath and Body Works was one of my gifts and Cucumber Melon Body Spray was one of my sisters gifts...to this day, if I smell those scents, I am immediately brought back to that bedroom. People had furnished our entire house, decorated it for Christmas, filled up the kitchen with food and so much more.
My mom ended up surviving, so we stayed in the USA for 5 months, enrolling in private school during that time and waiting until she could travel again. I went one time to Georgia to visit my mom in the hospital with my mimi. My mom had something that looked like seaweed stapled all over her skin. I got so sick, I had to sit down and put my head between my legs so that I wouldn't pass out.
A few weeks into our time in the USA, I remember Margaret and Sarah Charles picking us up and taking us shopping at the mall. I still remember getting into her car, sitting down, leaning my head back on the seat and feeling so relieved that someone (an adult) was taking care of us. I felt like I could relax a little and that someone else was in charge. Margaret bought me a pair of Express Jeans a red T-shirt from American Eagle. I will never forget it. Things were so hectic and I was the oldest, so I felt very responsible to "mother" my little sisters...do their hair, get them dressed for school, make sure they are ok, etc. But, I was still only 16 myself and, at that time, I wanted to be babied a little bit too!
After 5 months, my mom was finally able to return to Bolivia. When we got back, we still hadn't celebrated Christmas, so we got to open all our gifts and celebrate Christmas in June! For 2 years after her accident, we helped my mom with taking off her compression suit, bathing, applying creams, putting a clean compression suit on, taking her meds and much more!
Because she was burned, she began to visit the burn clinic in Cochabamba, Bolivia and from that she ended up founding her own non-profit, Burn Care International. She saw that, just like her, burn victims in Bolivia were not getting good care. Today, she not only has her own office in the Burn Clinic in Bolivia, but she travels around the world and helps burn victims in developing countries.
Every time I think about my mom's accident, I am reminded of this verse:
I am so thankful to each and every friend and family member who helped us and cared for our family...I know that we are truly loved by many!
And I am so thankful that my mom not only survived, but now she is changing lives all around the world!
Please take a moment to visit her website and consider making a donation so that she can continue to help burn victims around the world!
Burn Care International