Jenifer de la Rosa was only a week old when a volcano erupted near her home. A Red Cross worker rescued her. Then a Spanish couple adopted her. She spent years searching for living relatives. Finally, de la Rosa got word: She had a sister.
For years, scientists warned residents of Armero, Colombia, about the nearby Nevado del Ruiz volcano. City leaders, however, had no emergency disaster plan. When the volcano erupted in 1985, part of its snowcap melted, creating a 150-foot-high wall of mud. Sludge swept down the Lagunilla River and slammed into the town. Mud covered entire homes.
After the eruption, about 23,000 of Armero’s estimated 28,000 residents had died or were missing. Families scattered—most without identification. Some children, like one-week-old Jenifer, were too young even to say their names.
After six months, officials labeled children without families “abandoned.” The sad truth was that many parents who survived were still in hospitals—unable to search for their children. People around the world eagerly adopted these homeless youngsters.
Francisco González lost his father and brother in the volcano tragedy. His foundation, Armando Armero, gathers information from people still looking for lost children.
“We know many children came out alive,” says González. “They were put up for legal adoptions and,” he adds, “informal ones.”
Seven years ago, González approached Emilio Yunis, a Colombian pioneer in genetic studies. He hoped Yunis could help find missing relatives. Emilio’s son Juan collected profiles from people linked to the Armero tragedy.
De la Rosa knew she was adopted. Her adoptive parents shared what they knew about her story, including her birth mother’s name.
De la Rosa had searched for her family since her teen years. Last year, with González’s help, she met Ángela Rendón, a street food vendor. Rendón was searching for a woman with the same name as de la Rosa’s mother. That led to the question: Could we be related?
Like de la Rosa, Rendón wondered whether she had living relatives. Neither woman had found a name match in any records. Both submitted DNA to Yunis for testing.
Rendón hoped the two would be a family match. De la Rosa was doubtful. “Only God and science know,” Rendón declared.
God does know, and He cares.
The DNA tests proved that the two are sisters! “This could only happen in a movie,” de la Rosa says with astonishment. In a movie? Yes, but not only. It also happens under the sovereign guidance of the same God who restored Joseph to his father Jacob in Egypt. (See Genesis 46.)