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To Suffer Well

When Vanessa arrived at Rady Children's Hospital a year ago, doctors and nurses were amazed she hadn't already died. Her parents recall that her journey and survival from Oaxaca, Mexico to San Diego were indeed a miracle. 

A recent "Impacto" class on their Nehemiah hike.Cisco and Naomi Villaseñor are ambassadors for Rock Church in Oaxaca, Mexico and have been married for almost 10 years. About 5 years ago on a missions trip to Oaxaca, they felt a pull on their heart from the Holy Spirit, and they knew God was calling them to full-time missions. With two kids and one on the way, they moved their family to Oaxaca, trusting that God was going to provide for them what they needed. 

Cisco says, "I thought it was a step of faith to go on the mission field with two kids and being pregnant. And that was nothing. That looks easy compared to now. Literally, our life is day by day depending on God. Emotionally with Vanessa. Our calling in Oaxaca. Financially, we still are living off support."

Their 3rd child was born in Oaxaca, and a few years later, Naomi became pregnant again. Since they had delivered a baby in Oaxaca already, they were confident that she would continue her pregnancy there. Eventually, doctors became concerned with how some of the ultrasounds looked, and doctors closely monitored Naomi for the remainder of her pregnancy. When Vanessa was born, her motherly instincts told her something was wrong. 

After two months, they were finally able to get her birth certificate and passport to rush her back home to San Diego. Upon her check-in at Rady's she was 3lbs, and the doctors started treating her immediately. Tests continue to come back inconclusive, but her doctors have been led to believe Vanessa has Cofs Syndrome. Cerebro-oculo-facio-skeletal (COFS) syndrome is "a degenerative disorder that primarily involves the brain, eyes, and spinal cord.[1] Affected individuals have mild to severe intellectual disability, severely reduced muscle tone (hypotonia), impaired reflexes, vision impairment, and involuntary eye movements." Children with Cofs Syndrome are not expected to live past five years old and the fact that Vanessa had survived almost three months without treatment was a miracle in itself. 

I think when we are facing the biggest trial is when we have the greatest opportunity to glorify God.

Naomi recalls the experience and the major change that happened for their lifestyle. "Well, I’m a nurse now. It’s been really different. I haven’t been back to Oaxaca since May of last year. We just go on Vanessa’s timeline. It’s the joke at the hospital: Whatever Vanessa tells us. It’s hard being in and out of the hospital. It’s been sometimes every week in there. It’s hard with the other kids trying to figure out our time with them and with Vanessa and as a family together. It’s been hard emotionally. I feel like I’m stretched to the max. This last time has been harder than the other times because it’s an emotional roller coaster. One minute she’s ok and the next minute you don’t know if she’s going to make it. One of my biggest fears is losing a child. So I’m faced with it now. And I have to trust Him."

Today, the Villaseñor's daily life is in and out of Rady's and back and forth from Oaxaca. Naomi has remained in San Diego with her three youngest children. Her oldest daughter continues serving in Oaxaca and Cisco flys back and forth to support his family and run the school they started in Oaxaca. Despite the difficulties they are facing, they are confident that God is working and will never leave them. 

She says, "I know that God just loves her because he is giving her life. I just know that she’s for a purpose. It doesn’t matter she’s a baby and she can’t talk. She’s not telling anyone about God, but I just feel like her life as a whole is being used to encourage other people to keep walking with Him to keep being faithful not matter what your circumstances if they are hard or difficult." In agreement, Cisco adds, "When she was born in Mexico, we had her for two months without Rady’s, and she should’ve been dead. It’s a miracle she survived with her condition. If she was born here, she would’ve been in the NICU. That alone is a miracle. It tells me there is a purpose. God is using her one way or another."

Vanessa recently celebrated her 1st birthday, and her parents are doing their best to cherish every moment they have with her, knowing it could be their last. With a lot of hugs, kisses, and quality time, both parents feel like the lessons they have learned from this experience are to be intentional with every moment you have and although we all may say we trust God, these are the situations that really test our faith. 

Cisco shares, "I think when we are facing the biggest trial is when we have the greatest opportunity to glorify God. One goal for me and Naomi is to suffer well. Suffer well. That people see peace, that people still see joy, people see strength. And inspire. We went on the mission field to make a difference. Right now, God has us in a position to make the greatest difference ever. And it’s not so much what we’re doing; it’s what we’re going through." To Cisco, the way to best glorify God is by suffering well. "Not bitter. Not angry. Having no fear. Having faith in God. And not just talking about it, but demonstrating it."

The Villaseñor family is still living by faith in all aspects of their life. They continue to pray for miraculous healing for their daughter, and also continue to live fully on support from family, friends, and other supporters. But God has always provided for them. 

When it comes to their identity as parents, and in Christ, they both feel as though this experience has only solidified that fact that they belong to a Good Father. Naomi says, "When you are struggling through these different things you have all these questions. Did we do something wrong? Is there something you’re trying to show me? So ya, this makes you closer to God. I am a child of God. Just watching the miracles He’s doing and watching him work in our lives. So I see it makes me more certain that He’s my father and I’m his daughter. He’s caring for us."

Confidently, Cisco proclaims that "God’s comfort is enough."

Cisco and Naomi have a hard time putting into words what it's like not knowing how much time they have left with their little girl. Cisco describes their life as unstable. But he says, "The stable one is God. It’s hard to explain. Vanessa’s life – she could die right now, she could die at any moment. There is stability because of God." Similarly, despite being faced with her biggest fear, Naomi thinks of hope. "Just knowing that our hope is that no matter what happens to her, she’s going to be ok. She’s going to be with Jesus...Early on God was speaking to me about it. When she goes that it’s going to be peaceful and it’s going to be beautiful. Not something to be afraid of. He’s going to be in it, and there’s going to be peace because He’s there. And it’s going to be beautiful because she gets to be with Jesus."

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Watch this video below to view the full interview with Cisco and Naomi!

The Villaseñor family has four children, one of which lives full-time in Oaxaca as a missionary. The other three children live in San Diego with Naomi as she cares of Vanessa and her trips in and out of Rady's Children's Hospital. Cisco travels to and from Oaxaca, juggling the balance of caring for his family as well as the ministry they run in Mexico. Practically speaking, the family's financial needs have tripled over the last year. They are also in need of a permanent vehicle that would accommodate their whole family. If you'd like to learn more about the Global Outreach ministry, or if you'd like to support the Villaseñor Family through prayer or financial contributions, please email [email protected] or click here


For more information about what God is doing in Oaxaca, click here »