'Simple hospitality:' Family takes in orphaned girl

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Angela and Jim Beise sit outside their Cape Girardeau home Tuesday with their children Rachel and Michael and their dog Marley. The family took in Marida Faller when her mother died. Faller is in the hospital recuperating from surgery to treat her scoliosis. (Laura Simon)

When Jim and Angela Beise made the decision to take a 17-year-old orphaned girl into their home during the summer of 2009, they didn't think it was such a big deal.

After all, two of their children had already left home. Even though they still had teenagers Rachel and Michael at home, they had a big house and they had room at the dinner table.

"It wasn't like a huge thing," Jim Beise said. "Just some simple hospitality and generosity."

The girl, Marida Faller, had recently lost her mother. She never knew her father, and she had no other family.

Being alone at 17 wasn't the only challenge Marida faced. She lived with severe scoliosis, causing her spine to curve and resulting in pain and shortness of breath. And she still had her senior year at Central High School to go before graduating.

The Beises, who both are ministers at La Croix Church, had only been in Cape Girardeau for two months when Angela was asked by the church to go visit a young girl at Saint Francis Medical Center.

"Her mother was in a coma and was not going to live, and they saw that Marida was all alone," Angela Beise said.

Angela stayed with Marida, who had been her mother Lorraine's primary caregiver during her battle with cancer, for a while that day. She returned the day Lorraine was taken off life support and died, and was there for the funeral as well.

Getting to know Marida wasn't easy, Angela said.

"She was keeping everyone at a distance because she was guarded and scared," she said.

In the coming weeks, Angela helped Marida with things that a mother would normally do for a daughter, such as laundry and driving lessons.

But it was only when Marida herself became a hospital patient that the relationship between Marida and the Beises went to the next level.

Marida had been in an automobile accident as a passenger and called Angela from the emergency room, sounding quite upset.

"When I walked in the room her blood pressure went down, and things got calm," Angela said. "I realized that we had a real special relationship. I brought her home with me that night, and basically she never left after that."

Angela called Jim, who was away on a mission trip, to tell him that Marida was moving into the Beise home.

The Beises, aware of Marida's situation, felt a responsibility to help her.

"She was going into her senior year of high school, and she had nobody," Jim said. "She was going to live in her little apartment by herself. She wasn't a minor anymore. ... It was good for her to be in a family."

Two years later, Marida has graduated from Central High School with honors and has been accepted for an accelerated medical school program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The program combines undergraduate school with medical school courses and allows students to finish medical school in six years.

Marida is in the process of getting relief from the symptoms of scoliosis. On March 21, she underwent an eight-hour surgical procedure at St. Louis Children's Hospital to straighten her spine and insert screws. A follow-up operation in two weeks will see the surgeons install rods that will help support Marida's spine. She is still in the hospital recuperating from the first surgery.

"Her back's going to be straight, she's going to be four inches taller, and she's going to be in med school," Angela said. "She just never dreamed that things would turn around like that."

Certainly Marida has benefited from the hospitality of the Beise family, but Jim insists that his family has been blessed also.

"We're definitely richer for having her," he said.

In hindsight, what seemed to be a small gesture of help from the Beises turned out to be much more, Jim said.

"A little openness, a little hospitality, some space and some love, and wow, I mean, all kinds of incredible things can happen," he said.

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