The joy of a new mother’s heart quickly vanished from Tha Chin Sung the moment her eyes fell upon her newborn baby’s twisted mouth. Tha Chin instinctively cried out to God—she needed a miracle.
How precious is a baby’s smile? We often take the ability to smile for granted—or even the ability to perform such routine tasks as eating and drinking. But Tha Chin no longer takes those things for granted—not since her daughter, whom she named Tha Hlei Par, was born with a cleft lip and palate.
This birth defect prevented Tha Hlei from closing her little mouth completely, making it impossible for her to consume enough nutrition to meet her body’s growing needs. Tha Chin knew her daughter’s chances of survival were slim.
Although cleft palate repair surgery is fairly routine in many parts of the world, the nearest qualified surgeons that could help Tha Hlei were in Myanmar’s capital city of Yangon, a 900-mile journey—and several arduous days of travel—from their remote home. Stacking the odds against Tha Hlei receiving help even further the family was very poor—her father, the only source of income for their family of five, was a farm laborer who only made a dollar or two a day, when he had work.
Over the next few months, Tha Hlei be-gan losing weight as expected; her death was only a matter of time. Tha Chin refused to give up hope, however, and continued to pray. It was then that God’s plan became evident.
Tha Hlei’s critical situation came to the attention of a trusted Heaven’s Family partner in the region who relayed the need to the director of the Micro-Loan Ministry, with whom he’d been working at the time; he then passed it on to us at the Critical Medical Needs Ministry. We began praying and seeking ways we could help Tha Hlei. Soon we learned that New Look and New Life, a ministry based in Yangon, could perform the lifesaving corrective surgery this precious little girl needed. It was exciting to see how God was lining up a miracle for this sweet little girl!
They agreed to provide the two surgeries required free of charge if Heaven’s Family could provide roundtrip transportation, lodging and meals for Tha Hlei and her mother twice—the two surgeries, repairing the lip and palate separately, had to be done six months apart.
In late December, Tha Chin and her daughter made their first trip to Yangon. Winding, unpaved roads cut into steep mountain slopes can take days to navigate in the dry season, and hardly passable if there is rain. Nevertheless, the two bravely traveled from Tlang Pi, their tiny home village in Chin State, to the cacophony of the capital city.
We are thrilled to report that Tha Hlei’s first surgery, closing her cleft lip, went perfectly. An anxious Tha Chin rejoiced at seeing her daughter’s repaired smile for the first time. “God has really responded to my long prayer,” were her grateful words to us. After her initial recovery, Tha Hlei and her mother returned home. Her second surgery is scheduled for next month and is already fully funded, by the grace of God.
Tha Chin placed her daughter’s life into Jesus’ hands and received the miracle she hoped for. Tha Hlei’s precious “smile un-der construction” is proof of that.