Changing Rafael’s world

            Little Rafael Morales, age two, came to Michigan from the Dominican Republic for surgery on his enlarged tongue. Because of that condition it was difficult for him to eat, and of course it was unsightly as well.  Rafael underwent two surgeries at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.  The first one was very taxing.  Dr. Steve Kasten used lasers to shrink the extra tissue in his tongue, and Rafael spent two weeks in the hospital afterward.  For six weeks after that, his tongue continued to scab over, bleed, and scab over again.  As you can imagine, a loving host family was an important component of this scenario, and Rafael found one in Randy and Beth Koch and their family, of Grass Lake.  The Kochs insist that the painful healing process didn’t slow Rafael down at all in learning to speak English (with a particular emphasis on “Why?”).  Randy Koch formed a wonderful relationship with Rafael and wrote the following letter to our Dominican liaison, Vanessa Sanchez.

Hi Vanessa,   

I hope all is well with you and yours this day.

It is with great joy and sorrow that we will see Rafael off to the Dominican tomorrow.  In the past 13 years we have hosted seven HTC children.  We’ve watched children from many backgrounds settle into our household.  We always endeavor to love each child as though they are our own even though we understand they will only stay with us a short time. I suppose the brevity of our time together helps us to keep the perspective that we are caring for someone who will ultimately leave and be reunited with their family.  There’s always something that keeps us from being too attached to the children who stay with us; maybe it’s a way to protect ourselves from being hurt when we have to say goodbye.

So with this in mind, please let me tell you how much I have come to love Rafael.  He
has truly won our hearts over completely, and we have come to love him as our own. 

And so now with tears I send him back to you.  Please take very good care of him, for he is now part of my heart.  We’ve laughed and played together, read stories and wrestled.  He loves to fold his hands and make
sure that everyone prays before they eat their
dinner.  One of our favorite things to do was
read the “going to bed book.”

Would you send this letter on to Rafael’s
parents?  I would love to come and visit him,
and he is welcome to visit us at any time. 
Just let us know, and we will arrange it. 

Yours sincerely,
Randy Koch

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