Friday, April 13, 2012


I've been sitting here staring at a blank page, watching the cursor blink rhythmically for a while. I can't seem to find the right words to express what's going on in my head and in my heart. I've been wrestling with Him for a while, trying to understand what His plan and purpose is for Chantal. She's been here since the beginning of the outreach; a burn contracture patient from the last time we were in Togo. She's come back because her graft became infected and her whole shoulder is a big, open gaping wound. It's been a long 2 and half months for her; a journey of ups and downs. She's pulled through so many times, but this time it looks like she's not going to make it. We found out a couple days into her stay that she is HIV positive. We don't have supply of HIV meds on the ship, but in order to do another surgery to cover the wound we would have to treat her HIV. So we prayed, and God provided free HIV medication within days. One night after a dressing change under anesthesia she stopped breathing on me. God immediately told me to move her chin forward, and she took a huge gasp of air! I was so thankful that was not the end for her. The plastic surgeon arrived and was able to graft her arm with new beautiful skin. We moved her out of isolation, which is totally foreign in West Africa where community is everything, and into the ward with all the other patients. We saw her spirits lift to a level we had never seen before. She was getting depressed being in the isolation room all day, having minimal interaction with people, especially people of her own culture. Even despite me dancing to "Chop my money" like a fool, all we could get out of her was a smile! (If you haven't heard that song, you should look it up!) One day we started noticing a difference in Chantal; she was so joyful, and there was a life in her eyes that was not present previously. She would just break out into worship songs that would start the whole ward worshipping. She was smiling all the time, and interacting with all the patients. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Come to find out, the night before she prayed with one of the day workers to accept Jesus into her life! What a cause for celebration! As is often the case with Chantal her highs are followed by lows; her body is fighting a raging infection that waxes and wanes. Her heart rates shoots up, her respiratory rates sky rockets, and she begs to give up because of the pain. She gets tired of daily 2 hour long dressing changes, and physiotherapy. This is a cycle that we battle all the time with her. We start her on new antibiotics, and she starts feeling better, but because of the HIV and antibiotic resistance we lose the battle. This last time we moved her to ICU we had to make a decision about what we were doing for her and if she coded would we resuscitate. That was so hard for me; we have been fighting for so long to heal her, and then here we were giving up on her. When I met her the first time in February, I envisioned fixing her wound, bringing her back to full function with her arm and sending her back to Ghana fully healed and able to interact with society. But God reminded me that He is Good and has a plan for her that far surpasses what we could ever imagine. I was confronted with my faith and trust in God. I had to answer the question, what is more important: full physical healing, but spiritually dead OR eternal life with Jesus and not being physically healed? Life without Jesus is not life at all. I can boldly say that, knowing in my own life the difference Jesus has made, and seeing in Chantal's life the difference knowing Jesus has made. Although we have not healed her physically, I know without a doubt that we did more for her than any physical healing could ever do. I leave you with a thankful heart to God that He gave His son for me, and you, and Chantal, that we don't have live apart from Him, and that no matter the circumstances we can have joy in difficulty with the hope we have in Christ. Love you all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sitting at my computer with eyes dripping, so touched by your experience with Chantel and all that God is doing. Yes, life without Jesus is no life at all. We see people living that life all around us and they don't even know what they are missing. Praise God Chantel now knows and one day we will all praise Him together in perfect harmony and health. Love you, Janet