A chance encounter between a 21-year-old woman and a young boy turned into an emotional reunion between the woman and her father, who abandoned her at birth.
Ileana Quintanilla was raised by her grandparents in Nicaragua after her mother, Doña Patricia, gave birth to her at the tender age of 16. Ileana’s father took off shortly after she came into this world but her grandparents raised her with a lot of love despite financial limitations. She would often ask her mother and her grandparents questions about her father but they would try to avoid the discussion. The only information she had about her father, was his name, Ernesto, and that he lived in a community called La Tejana.
Her faith and upbringing led her to join Food for the Hungry Nicaragua as a volunteer and soon became a staff member representing the Christian non-profit.
Ileana not only traveled to various rural communities affected by poverty and helped children but also spread awareness about health and shared her Christian values while working with the relief organization.
During a Bible study for staff members, the topic of forgiveness came up. “I thought that there is someone that I need to forgive in my heart — my father,” she told Fox News. From that day forward, Ileana always dreamed about meeting her father and forgiving him for abandoning her as a child.
Then came the day when she was helping children at the Tejana School write to their sponsors when a young boy who shared the same last name as he came up to her. When the boy told her his father’s name, she knew she had just met her brother.
So she wrote her name on his arm and told the boy to show it to his father.
In the next half an hour, a man showed up on a bicycle looking for somebody. She walked up to him and asked him who he was looking for. “My daughter,” he replied, and at that moment, she realized that her dream had just come true. “I am your daughter,” she said.
Reunited after two decades, father and daughter hugged each other tight with tears in their eyes.
“In that moment, I knew deep in my heart that I forgave my father but didn’t want to tell him. I knew in my heart that something new was going to happen,” she said. “Everything happens with a plan and a purpose. And each one of us has a story, a story written by God.”
Ileana is still in touch with her father, her stepmom as well as her step brothers and sisters, and continues to work for Food for the Hungry as a staff member.