Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Jonathan’s Story: Love, Dedication and Total Devotion

By Special Guest Blogger: Jacquelin Sandoval


As the doctors raced between rooms clearing patients for tomorrow’s surgeries, I met a sweet boy named Jonathan. He was a quiet and mild manner 4 year old boy from the rural side of Guatemala. His happiness could simply brighten a room and make your heart melt. As the doctors cleared him for surgery I knew it was my time to sprint into action and learn more about this little boy.

There are days that I’m a bit presumptuous and today was no exception, I “assumed” that the two adults with Jonathan were his parents. And I quickly ate some humble pie in Guatemala. Our little tiger had not arrived with his mother and father; he arrived with his 31 year old sister, Sandra and 56 year old father, Mr. Cap. They left their home approximately at 4 am and took a 3 hour bus ride into town to make their appointment on time this morning.


Jonathan’s dad Mr. Cap (yes, that’s a real name), immediately opened up and explained why Jonathan’s mom wasn’t there. As Mr. Cap started talking, my blood rushed to my head and eyes filled up with tears. I held on to my emotions tightly and focused on listening attentively. He said, “Jonathan’s mom can’t be with us because she is home and can’t move.”

As the story goes, Jonathan is the youngest of ten children. When his mother was pregnant with him, she had high blood pressure. During his delivery, they informed her that her son had a cleft palate deformity. She left the hospital and was devastated and immediately, looked for help with local doctors. She met with 2 doctors when Jonathan was 5 weeks old and all turned her away because Jonathan’s case was too difficult.


Six months after her last visit with a local pediatric specialist while feeding Jonathan, she had a stroke. The stroke caused Mrs. Cap to lose 50% of her mobility. The 9 Cap children stepped into help their mother but Sandra took a lead role. Sandra left her job as a seamstress in a factory and became her mother and Jonathan’s full time caregiver. Unfortunately for Jonathan, the quest for finding help was put on hold for over a year. As Mrs. Cap regained minimal abilities to speak, she urged Sandra and her father to find help for Jonathan. Sandra and Mr. Cap immediately looked for help – connected with 3 other doctors and all turned them away. Sandra as Jonathan’s big sister felt the responsibility and obligation to keep looking for possible options.

As Sandra shared with me, I could see Mr. Cap get lost in thought and an immediate sadness overcame him.

Mr. Cap looked down at the ground and then looked at my eyes and said, “…you know Ms., the hardest thing is to feel you can’t help your child and to have your wife attached to bed 24 hours a day.” I looked at him and nodded my head in acknowledgment, as my heart poured into my stomach. Just as my tears were ready to make an appearance, our little tiger Jonathan looked up at me and smiled with such innocence. Sandra jumped in and shared how blessed and thankful they feel because tomorrow will be Jonathan’s 4th surgery. A little over 2 ½ years ago, Jonathan’s sister saw an ad and heard on the radio about Austin Smiles. She told her dad and the next day, they made the 3 hour journey to the city…and that was the first time Jonathan received a “yes”.

Jonathan didn’t only receive a surgical yes…he received a yes at life. Mr. Cap shared that just when he was losing hope for finding Jonathan help, a light shined and American doctors came to help. He said, “I have hope in the future for all my children. I have hope, Jonathan will one day be a good man.”

Tomorrow will be our little tiger’s 4th surgery… I too am excited and happy for him.

Today, the Cap family reminded me what family is all about…love, dedication, and total devotion for each other.

Say a prayer tonight for our little tiger Jonathan…and stay tuned!

Update on 11/10/2014 – Special thank you to Dr. Narsete for a successful surgery:


1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

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