“Sie, Sie!!!!” (Left, left!!!!”) The men screamed frantically, their cries echoing to the muddy mountain slope where we waited.
The pickup, with Paul at the wheel, swerved slightly to the left, skidded, then clung to the narrow log bridge as the men from Hoe Dua pushed to keep it from going over the edge. He made it across and I breathed again.
Going over that bridge is always nerve-wracking, but never so much as in rainy season. We waited while the truck climbed the hill, then loaded up the muddy kids and crept up along the slick, narrow road with steep drop-offs on either side. I couldn’t decide if going uphill or downhill was scarier!
But we all lived to tell about it. It was a good Sunday. We try to visit this remote village as often as we can to encourage the small band of Christians there. They have no pastor and no one to teach them, so they have a special place in our hearts.
That Sunday was especially blessed because our Pastor, Bro. Bill Lee from Central Baptist Church in Mississippi, his wife, Janice, and Bro. Ricky Cash, also from Mississippi, were with us. They came to check on the work, encourage the people (which certainly included us!) and to “do medicine.”
Janice is a nurse and Bro. Ricky is a pharmacist and owns a pharmacy in Grenada, MS. They have been doing trips like this one for years. Bro. Ricky has been to numerous third-world countries to give medical aid, as well as to our tribes in Thailand. What a blessing to have them with us!
I had a list of questions about a mile and a half long for them. What do you do for a baby with diarrhea? How do you tell if a skin rash is bacterial or fungal? What do you do when someone complains of feeling faint or dizzy? And so on.
And I watched them in action. I learned a lot, and I hope the people I care for will benefit for a long time from the sacrifice they made for this visit.
And it is a sacrifice. The trip alone is grueling – taking from 24 to 36 hours or so and totally disrupting sleep patterns as it crosses the International Date Line. Once they are here, they spend hours on bad roads to get to the primitive villages and the people they came to help. Bro. Ricky became very ill this trip, probably from a poorly cooked monkey he so valiantly ate in one of the villages in Laos.
And everywhere we went to do medicine, Bro. Bill spoke to the people, giving them encouragement and hope.
I’m sad to say I had to stay behind for most of those trips – including the trip to Laos, where I have never been. We don’t have anyone to stay with the children now. I had to stay home for all but the shortest trips to the nearby villages in order to be here when they got home from school. We all went on the Sunday trips, though, and enjoyed an outing to the skating rink in an upscale mall. Which is where I fell in a hole and nearly broke my leg.
Why was there a hole in the floor at the mall? I don’t know. Evidently, I was not supposed to be on that side of the rink., but I was walking around it, encouraging one of our newest kids, Jan, who had never skated before, as she crept along the edge, clinging to the low wall. I knew if I could get her around once or twice, she would have the courage to take off skating, just as the others did. I wasn’t watching my feet and fell into a hole up to my knee. It was bleeding and lumpy, and the consensus was that I ought to have it x-rayed.
At the hospital – the expensive, high-falutin’ one where the foreigners go – I limped in and found the ER empty. The only occupants were staff gathered around the tv watching volleyball. They leapt into action and three nurses and a doctor soon had my wound elaborately cleaned, x-rayed and bandaged. No break, I’m glad to say.
“Come back tomorrow and for the next three days to have the bandaged changed,” the nurse said.
I looked at my scraped leg. That’s it – no punctures, no gashes, no stitches necessary. I couldn’t believe I was supposed to come in at least three more times for a skinned and bruised shin. I declined and had to put up quite an argument. Finally, as I promised to come back if it showed the slightest sign of infection, they reluctantly let me go. I believe they were bored and desperate for a patient. Quite a difference from my experience with ERs in the US.
I would have been sorry to have wasted the time on a leg that was only injured in a minor way, but I did have an opportunity to talk to one of the nurses about the Lord. It was such a privilege, because most of the time I long to share the hope we have in Christ – but don’t have the words to do it. This guy, like most at the hospital, spoke excellent English. What a blessing to be able to actually communicate!
And, by the way, the bill at this “expensive” hospital was about $60 US dollars, which included x-rays and a tetanus shot as well as a very fancy bandage. Much cheaper than insurance!
The kids enjoyed the skating treat and reveled in the affection and attention from the Mississippi crew. They are always excited when guests come, especially these particular guests.
Bro. Bill, Janice, and Bro. Ricky are back home now, where they aren’t obliged to ride on roller-coaster roads or eat such delicacies as monkey or mystery meat – but, as always, their visit left a lasting impression. God is good!