Great Plains laity/church on a mission to help “Little Annie”


Children are supposed to spend their days learning and playing, not fighting for survival. Kids battling serious illnesses at least usually have their parents to turn to for support.

“Little Annie” has no parents for support. In fact, she’s a child in a Bolivian orphanage who needs financial assistance to have what could be a life-saving surgery.

Jenice Epp, a member of McCool Junction United Methodist Church in Nebraska, is raising money so Little Annie (not the child’s real name) can have brain surgery.

Little Annie is 6 years old and lives in the only orphanage in Bolivia that accepts children with special needs. After Annie was born, the plates in her skull never fully grew together, the “soft spot” remained and allowed part of her brain to grow outside of her skull.

Epp has traveled to Bolivia 10 times and hopes to continue going twice a year for the rest of her life. Her time spent in Bolivia has created a tight bond with the people of the country, and especially the children in the orphanage.

“I have 61 grandchildren,” Epp said.

McCool Junction UMC youth group donated $650 to help Little Annie.
Epp has traveled to several churches, youth groups and United Methodist Women meetings in the Great Plains Conference to share Little Annie’s story, hoping to raise funds and encourage prayers for Annie to travel to Omaha for surgery.

Even after a 10 percent discount, the surgery, to be conducted at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, will cost about $135,000. Almost $20,000 has already been donated.

As she was sharing Annie’s story to the McCool Junction UMC youth group, Epp mentioned that “if everyone I talked to donated $10, we’d have enough.” Kids in the youth group decided they could donate $10 and with matches from their two leaders, the group donated $650 to the cause.

Epp said she is ready to borrow money on her house or sell it to raise the funds. But even if the funds are raised, the possibility remains that Annie would not be able to travel to Omaha to have the surgery.

In addition to legalities to travel to the United States, Bolivia has strict travel laws for minors. Epp and the orphanage need to prove that Little Annie will return to Bolivia. If she is not returned, Epp will never be allowed to return, and the directors of the orphanage will be placed in prison. Also, Little Annie’s birth certificate must be signed. That may sound simple in America, but in Bolivia, many of the children in the orphanage are born on the streets and do not have birth certificates.

Epp recently received word that directors of the orphanage have received a court order for her birth certificate, and they expect Annie will be transported to the United States in about two months for her surgery.

So far, $18,666.20 has been raised for Little Annie. If you would like to make a tax-free donation, put “Little Annie” in the memo line of your check and mail it to:

McCool Junction UMC
PO Box 86
McCool Junction NE 68401
“What we want most is prayers,” said Epp. She knows prayers can make all the difference.
“God is good and will provide,” said Epp on her blog. “I don’t know how or when, although I have tried to share some advice with Him. That doesn’t work very well … .”
Epp would love to visit your church, youth group or UMW meeting and share more information about Little Annie. If you would like to schedule a time, contact the church at or call 402-724-2297. You also can follow along with Epp on her blog at
Due to rules put in place by the Bolivian government, no photos of Little Annie or the orphanage may be shared online.
Contact Rachel Moser, communications coordinator, at

Related Videos