When the steroids she takes for asthma made her body swell.
When her eardrums burst, leaving her legally deaf.
When a doctor told her that he doubted Medicare would cover the surgery she needed to hear again.
When David's own health problems forced him to stop working.
When they burned through their savings, searching for a place to live.
When she found a photo of her estranged daughter and cried.
When neighbors heard her speaking Spanish and glared.
Faith and family values, she says, have given her strength.
"You're going through the same problems the world goes through," Howell tells the congregation.
Maria says, "Amen."
Home from church, David kicks back on their light mauve, leather living room couch and turns on a big-screen TV purchased during better times.
On the screen, a local newscast shows U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, shouting into microphones at an Orlando campaign stop. She describes Florida as the election's "biggest battleground state."
Political ads and campaign coverage begin early here -- and, it seems, never stop.
Wasserman Schultz belts out a warning for older residents:
"Our seniors deserve the chance to hear from Congressman (Paul) Ryan and Mitt Romney on why they want to shred the health care safety net that is Medicare and pull it out from under our seniors."
A few minutes later, sitting at the small kitchen table she just bought from a thrift store, Maria admits that Romney's vice presidential pick has her worried.
She was hoping he'd select Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican senator who grew up in Miami, the child of Cuban immigrants.
She doesn't understand why Romney went with Ryan. The night before, she did a Google search to learn more about the Wisconsin congressman. On Wikipedia, she read about his proposals to privatize parts of Medicare as part of his 2011 "path to prosperity" budget.
Ryan has said his approach aims to help the nation's finances while preserving benefits for seniors, but Maria isn't convinced.
She and David are already struggling to get by on $19,000 a year, she says. Warnings that Ryan would gut Medicare weigh heavily on her mind.
"Romney just went --- boom -- down on my list," she says.
But she's anything but excited about the alternative.
Maria voted for Obama in 2008. Her heart was with Hillary Clinton. From her home, she made calls trying to sway primary voters to support the former first lady's candidacy.
"Then I got a little bit passionate," she says, "because I wanted a woman to win."
She's still such a strong supporter of Clinton she keeps a "Hillary for President" bumper sticker on the back of the couple's silver minivan, below a sticker for a Christian radio station, a Jesus fish and a baby waving a Puerto Rican flag.