Jasmine’s story: How Karina got her name

Hello again!

Karina eating papaya in her high chairDid we promise to follow our last totally “baby-centered” update with a slightly more ministry-focused one?

Well, true to our word, here it is (…and with it of course out apologies for failing to send the next newsletter “soon…”) 🙂

So resisting the endless temptation to talk on and on about the “boring” details of our daughter (–now a year old…!), we give you the following story…

Below is an update which features something that actually happened in ministry but which certainly does not leave Karina out…  Ironically enough, it is the final continuation of the story on how she came on to the scene of our lives.

Adventures in Family Building: The Finale

“Babies are always a Blessing…”

“Jasmine, we’re not sure if we can actually go through with this.” …We were totally intimidated by the possibility of adopting a baby.

“Come on,” Jasmine replied.  “I believe in you guys.  And besides… I know from experience that babies are always God’s way of blessing us.”

… It was true.  If anyone knew about babies being God’s way of sending blessing, it was Jasmine.

We had first met her begging for help in order to feed her family.

Pregnant with her fifth child, and in danger of losing her life due to the soaring blood pressure of her high-risk condition, Jasmine had approached us on many occasions, often trying to sell us some of her possessions, just to get dinner for her children.  Her husband, Hugo, was a drug addict who stumbled periodically in and out of our church building – drunk, stoned, beaten up every weekend, and totally unable to care for his family.

Under the pressure of this situation, Jasmine recalls that when she found out she was pregnant for the fifth time, she could not help but feel that she didn’t want the baby.  Already there were days when she only had enough food for the youngest of her children to eat.  Patiently, she had trained the older ones — and herself — to go without…  How could God possibly sustain her family with yet another mouth to feed?

A long-time friend of our pastor, this young woman confessed her doubts about her unexpected pregnancy to him. “Don’t ever doubt what God has for you,” he answered.  “God has a plan for this baby… and His plan is always to bless you.”

So, gathering her courage, Jasmine pushed through the final, most difficult months of carrying the child.

YurletteThen came the day…

A beautiful baby girl — named “Yurlette” — was born.

There was only one catch.

On top of everything else, and in spite of Jasmine’s efforts to take care of herself as much possible during the pregnancy, we are sad to say that to everyone’s surprise, “Yurlette” was born with spina bifida.

…Jasmine was devastated.  And though of course she felt the strong pull of love that any mother would feel towards a tiny helpless newborn, she couldn’t help but cringe at the idea of caring for a special needs child with no money and on top of everything else that was going on in her marriage.  Feeling shocked and helpless, she remembered our pastor’s words.

Was spina bifida supposed to be a blessing?

Together, Jasmine and Hugo struggled to raise money to take Yurlette to the city of Durango, where surgeons implanted a valve next to the baby’s skull in order to drain the extra fluids off of her brain.  Immediately, the family was told that Yurlette would never walk, that she would be in diapers her whole life, and that she probably would not live past the age of twelve.

…The weight of the situation drove Jasmine to her knees.  If there had been anything left of her own strength to take care of her family, it was now gone.  Before only a nominal member of our congregation, she started attending services like never before.  It was clear that she would need God’s guidance, and miracles, just to get through each day.

Seeing that her need was stronger than ever, the members of our church began to rally around Jasmine.  We in particular began to reach out to her, bringing groceries to her doorstep as often as she needed them.  And, this time with God’s help, Jasmine forged ahead.  Now a full-fledged member of our church, she somehow found the strength, not only to fight for Yurlette and her other children, but also to minister to others.

Even others like us.

…This brings us to the story of the adoption.  Adopted herself, Jasmine had always had a heart for children in need of a home.  She had a friend for whom she had helped to find homes for several children due to lifestyle that prevented the young lady from being a good mother. Knowing that her friend was pregnant again and interested in giving up the baby, Jasmine humbly approached us and talked us into considering the sudden and unexpected possibility of being parents.

And as we’ve shared before, we felt scared…  but yet fascinated.

So, with Jasmine’s encouragement, we opened ourselves up to adopting, trusting her testimony and taking her at her word that babies were always a blessing.

Karina playing on bedBut as you might remember from our last adventure… the adoption fell through at the last minute.  At that, we got mad and started trying against all odds to have a baby…  And a few weeks later we learned that we were suddenly expecting a “blessing” of our own!  🙂

So, to make a long story short, now we are the ones who are discovering and learning about all of the miracles and surprises a baby can bring…

Yurlette valiantly working to take steps

… We are also pleased to tell you that Yurlette (now age two) is starting to take her first steps towards walking, fighting hard to prove the doctors wrong about her.
Hugo and Yurlette…And finally, we should of course tell you that Jasmine’s husband Hugo has also started coming to church!  He has been almost free of drugs and alcohol for the last several months — and working to support his family!  Touched by the needs of Yurlette and the ways in which our congregation was helping to care for her, Hugo has also been drawn in by the love of God.

So, in conclusion, we have to admit that Jasmine was right about babies being God’s vehicle for sending blessing.

Indeed, none of this story — or any of the changes in Hugo or Jasmine — would have been possible if it had not been for benefits that God had orchestrated through the life of one tiny, yet very special child…  born with spina bifida.


As for us, of course, the impact that Yurlette and Jasmine have had on our lives goes with out saying…

Karina sleeping


…Certainly, the Lord works in mysterious ways.


And again, we we will probably always wonder whether this all happened just because God had enough of a sense of humor to humble us into admitting that taking care of a baby is actually much harder than ministering to gang members.


But in our own way, we are learning — though perhaps not quite as profoundly as Jasmine — that babies are always a blessing.

Jasmine with Karina (and Yurlette in the background!)
Jasmine Lissette and Karina Lissette:
Jasmine with Karina at 2 weeks old (…Yurlette in the background!)
After a lot of deliberation, we thought it was quite appropriate for Karina to be named after Jasmine, especially in light of the fact that the name “Lissette” means “follower of God.”
The name “Karina” means “beloved,” and the name Jasmine has many translations, but the one that we like best is “gift from God.”


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