Luz Karina Sánchez of Yaguarón, Paraguay


Luz Karina Sánchez of Yaguarón, Paraguay

Luz Karina Sánchez—a seven-year-old girl in Yaguarón, Paraguay—draws, feeds chickens, and shoots marbles. And she does all these things in a special way—with her feet!

Karina was born without arms, but that doesn’t stop her from writing, drawing, turning pages in a book, combing her hair, dressing herself, and eating with a fork. She is an independent and determined girl who figures out how to do with her feet what some people can barely do with their hands. Federico and Isabel Sánchez, Karina’s parents, say she figures out how to do things by herself so she can do everything for herself—without help.

Karina’s first name is Luz, which means “light” in her native Spanish. After she was born, her mother felt a special peace and comfort fill her like a light—so she named the baby Luz, after that special feeling. Luz Karina continues to be a light and an example to her mother, the rest of her family, and her friends through her determination, testimony, and love.

The youngest of 12 children, Karina likes being part of a big family. Since most of her brothers and sisters are much older than she is, Karina is especially close to her brother Germán, who is 12 years old. Germán says of Karina, “I like her because she is happy and fun.”

Germán always looks out for her. But Karina herself looks out for and takes special care of her two-year-old niece Ruth. She loves Ruth and lets her cling to her sweater sleeve when they are together. Karina walks slowly so Ruth can keep up with her, and she tries to make sure others notice and pay attention to Ruth.

Karina’s family joined the Church about one year ago. Since then they have attended the Yaguarón Branch in the Paraguarí Paraguay District. The family lives out in the country about five kilometers from town. So to get to church each week, they walk about one kilometer and then take a bus. Karina likes Primary, especially the singing. About 10 children attend Primary in the Yaguarón Branch.

Karina and Germán are the only two Latter-day Saints at their school. Karina is in the first grade, and her mother is very proud of her schoolwork. Drawing is Karina’s favorite subject at school. She likes to draw pictures of flowers, especially poinsettias, a popular flower in Paraguay. She also draws pictures of herself and her family. She always draws herself with arms.

Karina’s leg and body muscles are very strong, and she is a good helper and a hard worker on her family’s small farm. The farm has a big tom turkey, chickens, and a dog with lots of puppies. Karina loves animals. One of her chores is to feed the chickens. And she has figured out her own method of getting this chore done. She picks up the bag of corn with her foot and places it under her chin to carry it while she walks. Then she sits on a chair, opens the bag of corn with one foot, puts the other foot in the sack for a footful of corn, and throws the corn out for the chickens to eat. Karina also loves to hold the chickens. She carefully catches a baby chick with her feet and holds the soft, fluffy bird under her chin.

Karina also loves to play marbles, and she is very good at it. She frequently beats other children in a game—and she even beats some of the missionaries who play with her. She controls a marble with her foot and releases it from her toes with a kick. She can propel her marble with her foot more accurately than many others can with their hands.

Karina is also good at shooting a slingshot. She slips loops in two rubber bands over two of her toes, places a coquito—a tiny coconut—in the sling with the other foot, stretches the bands back, and shoots.

Elder Richard Lyman, a missionary serving in her branch, gave Karina a harmonica. She was timid and unsure at first. But in just a few minutes, she was using her feet to hold the harmonica and make music.

Soon Karina will be eight, and she is looking forward to her birthday. She hopes to have a big chocolate cake with white frosting. But she is even more excited that she will be baptized. Her parents and the missionaries are teaching her about baptism and the covenants she will make, and her father is preparing to baptize her. She is eager to become a member of the Church. She loves the gospel and loves to share it.

Luz Karina lives up to her name. She truly is a light to those who know her.

[photos] Photography by Richard and Mary Ann Whetten Lyman

[photos] Far left: Karina loves to draw, especially pictures of flowers. Above, left: Karina cradles a chick under her chin. Above, right: Germán, Ruth, and Karina. Right: Karina demonstrates her skill with a slingshot.

[photos] Left: Ruth and Karina (front) with members of their family. From left: Germán, Juan, Ros (Ruth’s mother), Eugenio, Isabel (Karina’s mother), Mariela Isabel, and Federico (Karina’s father). Below: Karina and Elder Lyman playing their harmonicas.

Mary Ann Whetten Lyman served a full-time mission with her husband, Richard, in the Paraguay Asunción Mission.