A few years ago our family lead an outreach to Liberia, Africa with Youth with a Mission. We then only had two kiddos, both under the age of two.
Perhaps many people would think of it as irresponsible of us to pack up our little family and lead a team of young adults to a developing country. We, however, were very confident that God was calling us there, and felt a complete peace to go. Of course we thought, “what if one of our kids would die? Or get totally sick?” But, we held firm to God and went despite the thoughts.
A few weeks into our outreach, things were generally going well. Of course, everyone in our team, one after the other got sick in some way. There was no running water, it’s way hotter than Europe, there were evil little mosquitoes everywhere, but we could handle it.
At one point I had a nasty pink eye infection from the dust that I went practically blind for a week and couldn’t take care of my babies… Thankfully some of the very precious local women who lived around us helped me so much. I ended up teaching at a women’s conference at the end of that week – with sunglasses so that my weepy, nasty, pink eye wouldn’t be so distracting.
Our nine month old at the time was teething. He had a fever on and off for about five days. I really thought it was just the teething, so I decided not to be overly concerned. I’m a firm believer that a bit of fever is good!
Finally, after the fifth day, we notice the baby was quite listless, and quiet, and his breathing was particularly heavy.
With the help from our hosts, we found a clinic in the area that was open. It was the afternoon and where we were in Monrovia, we didn’t have easy access to transportation. We arrived at the local clinic and they were first of all angry at us for arriving at the “wrong time”, apparently one is supposed to arrive in the morning. We paid extra for that.
They finally took us in to test the baby’s blood, while the nurse yelled at the baby to stop crying or she’ll “give him something to cry about”.
We waited and waited and waited… feeling very helpless, and completely foreign in this system. Praying for God to come and heal and deal with the chaos and confusion..
Maybe a doctor came, but I’m not sure he was a doctor since Liberia suffers under extreme lack of them. He and the nurses started giving the baby medicine, but not telling us what the problem was. I asked what they were doing, and what he had. They responded, “He has malaria of course!”. By then, my husband and I were panicking, but they seemed completely calm.
“Everyone gets malaria, no big deal, just medicine, then it’s all good.” they said.
I kept thinking, “Oh God, what would everyone back home be thinking?”
We went back home, and prayed with our team for our sweet boy’s healing. The poor baby still struggled with breathing, still had a fever, and we went to bed.
My husband and I both woke at about 3am to one loud shriek of the baby.
He then fell silent and was breathing even more shallow, and labored. He felt cold and clammy. We both felt like death was near, and tried to figure out what to do. We could not call an ambulance, that didn’t exist. We couldn’t go hail a car, this was Monrovia at night – and we had no clue what we were doing. We didn’t have any emergency numbers or a vehicle. All we could do was pray.
So we prayed and prayed and asked God what we should do.
Then, there was a peace. It’s hard to explain, and it may sound horrible, but we felt like it would be ok to wait until the morning and we all fell back asleep, not knowing what would await us in the morning.
The next morning, baby was still alive, and we could find phone numbers and people to bring us to a different clinic. We found a German/Liberian one, and a local pastor drove us there (the only person we knew who had a vehicle).
At the hospital, they were outraged that the other clinic did not hospitalize the baby right away. They took his blood again and tested him.
I waited in a little recovery room filled with six other beds. The hospital beds were dirty, there were flies flying all around the window, and cobwebs everywhere. I just sat and reflected on God. Where was he in all of this? What are we doing here with this team? Are we crazy? Did God really say, “Go”? Was it really worth it to be obedient and risk our baby’s life?
These questions buzzed in and out of my head, along with the flies. I felt like a horrible missionary… doubting God, doubting people, hating my situation. It was a dark moment in my faith.
I had no internet anywhere, but I had my tablet with me. My Bible was on it and I decided to open it up. Just then, despite no internet, a message from one of my friend’s back in Germany loaded. Which was a miracle by itself.
Here is an excerpt:
“Girl now more than ever set your eyes on Jesus, I can only imagine that you want to call the whole world for a solution, I understand I would do the same; but what I feel in my heart right now very strong is TRUST THE LORD, please feel free to call around and find solutions and answers but SET YOUR EYES ON JESUS, hold on to the conviction you had to go there and be there now and you trusted God will carry you through, HE IS CARRYING YOU THROUGH even now!!. We will be praying for you. As right now I honestly don’t know what to tell you what you could do about it. “
This was such a miraculous encouragement for me. Still hearing from community even though there was no internet available to access my messages!
Finally, after hours and hours of waiting the results came back.
No malaria. We were convinced he was miraculously healed from it. How did he go from positive the day before to absolutely nothing?
But he did have some sort of other blood/lung infection, possibly from the same dust that gave me my pink eye infection. He got the appropriate medication, and got better very very quickly.
This moment is but one cornerstone of my faith.
Despite lack of faith, know-how, and abilities, it was and is always God who is our “strong tower”.
Even when you feel like a failure of a Christian – or in my particular case, a failure of a missionary.
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