Levi smiling and looking at the camera
Words & Pictures: Patience Salgado | Lens of Hope RVA


A tiny voice singing, clear and true, rose up through the baby monitor during nap time. He sang loudly and boldly, in that toddler emphatic way. His mom smiled, for she already knew the heart of her boy. 

“Way maker, Miracle worker,
Promise keeper,
Light in the darkness
My God, that is who You are.
That is who You are.” 

It has always been 5 year old Levi’s favorite, even as a toddler that was starting to string words together. It was his song. 

No one could have known how important those words would be some day and what level of meaning they would hold. Well, except for Levi, maybe somewhere down deep inside, he knew.  

It all started with Levi’s love of dinosaurs, the only problem was these were stomping in his head at night and waking him up he told his Papi. More and more dinosaurs over more and more nights, along with a wobbly walk and a shaky hand.

Jessica and Dusty just knew intuitively something was very wrong and sadly, they were right.

It was Medulloblastoma, with a tumor the size of Levi’s fist in the back of his brain. There was an immediate surgery that came with all kinds of risks, but the scariest being that a change in their dear boy’s personality was possible. Just the idea of losing any part of him would grip you, because you see, Levi is sweet, silly and has a way of disarming you with his charm. He’s joyful and present, playful and busy. He has a love that is effortless and readily available.

Levi hugging his mom
Words & Pictures: Patience Salgado | Lens of Hope RVA

Their family were no strangers to faith, they have built their entire life upon it.

As pastors and missionaries, Jessica and Dusty’s relationship was started by a shared calling to love and serve. There’s a safety and hope to lean into, knowing you are being held by a bigger and loving God. But this was new territory, a place they had never been with their child they loved more than anything.

Levi hugging his big sister
Words & Pictures: Patience Salgado | Lens of Hope RVA

It was watching their busy boy having to learn to walk again, caring for chemical burns from chemo, nights of praying food would stay down, holding your baby while morphine drips to ease his pain, and being honest about your own struggle and anger in all of this.

collage of photos showing Levi and his family in the hospital during his treatment

Because in those moments, you need a way maker, a miracle worker, a promise keeper, a light in the darkness…and yet even there, during the hardest time of their lives they found the same God, the one that they knew deep in their souls was with them, even in all of this.Their trust grew to the place of giving Levi to Him completely, come what may. He loved their boy just as fiercely, maybe even more. 

Levi and his family with his parents and sister

Just as that intuition of knowing something was wrong ran so deep in Jessica, she had an equal knowing that Levi would be healed. It isn’t even something you can explain, it’s beyond words, beyond our understanding. Yet somehow it made perfect sense in the faith they knew and clung to. Each chemo treatment became a battle won, every stem cell transplant a new hope, a little boy fighting the good fight with a song in his heart that was always his to lead the way.

Words & Pictures: Patience Salgado | LENS OF HOPE

Levi Headshot