Today I saw Martin who came into the hospital as an outpatient for a cough. Martin was our first child to ever be cured from Leukemia here. It was surreal to see him today as I just received news from a village that another one of our cancer kids passed away at home. We’ve lost 4 of 5 cancer kids over the last month which makes you wonder if the oncology program is something to continue. Who can’t help but think that?
|Amadou came to us because another hospital refused to treat him.|
He was best known for giving fist bumps to all the nurses.
We lost him at the end of week 4 of ALL treatment.
(Picture used with permission)
But right on cue, 6-year-old Martin walks in looking as normal as any other 6 year old boy—trying to pretend not to smile; too cool for his team of Pediatricians and nurses. He’s a big brother now, which is something much more wonderful to focus on then his monthly chemotherapy visits from a time passed.
I have no doubt that Satan himself spends time bringing up defeats in our minds and making them seem so much bigger than the triumphs that run parallel to them. Discouragement is not just a difficult emotion but instead a powerful weapon aimed at handicapping our hopes and crippling our callings.
As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “there is nothing new under the sun” and Satan’s method of discouragement is no exception. Thankfully, the Lord established a counter-measure for us, thousands of years ago, often referred to as alters, or stones of remembrance. In Genesis 28, Jacob took a stone to sleep on at which time the Lord gave him a vision and promise to give Him the land and bless the families of the Earth through his offspring. Jacob then took that stone and set it up as a pillar, marking the place of promise.
We also see this happen when Joshua leads the Israelites into the promise-land after the Lord parted the Jordan river for the 12 tribes to walk across safely. Each tribe took a stone out of the river and were instructed to put them together as a marker of remembrance “so that the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever!”
Something we (I) often don’t do well at the hospital is marking the successes, the healings, the discharges home. A story was told to me today of someone’s guard who was thanking us as a team for the presence of the hospital here and all it has done for the town. My friend responded with “actually, we are grateful to God for allowing us to be here and become a part of your community.” He responded, “yes, yes. Of course, we are thankful to God, but we must thank YOU as well. Often people don’t have money to pay ahead of treatment, which is how all other hospitals function. My son had a cough last year but we had no money since it was planting season. My mother-in-law told me to go to the Hospital of Hope because they will treat your son right away and allow you time to go find money. We went, and it turns out he has asthma. He got better, and now when he coughs he has a medicine and gets better. What would we have done if you weren’t there?”
I have no doubt that when that child came to the hospital, it was a “bread-and-butter” asthma episode that we didn’t take too much notice to—albuterol, steroids, maybe some oxygen and home! Nothing glamourous and nothing to post pictures of to show the miracles happening here….
….or is it? Is it part of the miracle happening here?
One of the other great lies of Satan is the idea of the ‘mundane’. One definition of mundane is “lacking interest or excitement” and the other is “of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one”. Is there any other greater lie that the people, the work, the lives around us (including our own) are of this earthly world rather than a heavenly one?! The Lord’s hand is at work in constant motion all around us—from the warm wind, to the muddy terrain, from the 80-year old patient to the premature infant, it is all a wonder of excitement and awe. We will only fully understand the depth of it all when we are face to face with our Creator one day. It is each of our callings, not to be doing medicine in Africa, but to see things as Christ sees them; to open our eyes and see the story unfolding before us day by day; to hear the stories of how the Lord is working and using others to bring healing to hurting people. Our calling is to be a part of it, to enter in, and refuse to believe there is anything mundane about it.
While walking around our hospital compound a few months ago with a friend, I stopped suddenly as I saw this bare bush on one of our corners and was way more excited than my bystander friend. “Look at those fractals!” I exclaimed, showing my true math-nerd heart. As to avoid sounding too nerdy, a fractal at its simplest is something in which each smaller part has the same characteristic as the larger whole in increasing detail. The bush I was staring at had branches and twigs and even thorns all branching out at perfect 30-degree angles. Each one perfectly separated and changing directions at the exact moment and the exact angle it was designed to be at. Fractals are found throughout nature (snowflakes, galaxy formation, pulmonary vessels and even some varieties of broccoli!). The question for each person is, is my life is reflecting one part of what whole?I often look at trees that have grown tall but done so despite years of wind and rain trying to blow them over. You can see the exact moments where they were designed to grow in one direction but had to turn and twist in order to fight against the elements, in order to stay where they were meant to be. The result isn’t a perfect fractal, but instead another work of art and beauty all-together. All of our lives are reflecting a part of a whole for the time we are given. None of our lives will look like perfect fractals either, but instead, as we fight the notions of discouragement and the mundane, we fight to stay in the fight, to stay a part of the whole, HIS whole, until we are made perfectly whole for all of eternity.
Two days after Martin left, I received a call from the clinic. “Kelly, I have a young girl in my room that has an abdominal mass. Another hospital thinks it’s a Wilms Tumor and sent them to Lomé. They won’t go to Lomé because it’s too far. Can we treat her here?”
And so, the program pushes onward.