I'm not one who prefers to glorify missionary life. If anything, being over here has reinforced that I'm pretty much doing most of the same things--taking care of the kids, doing dishes, wiping up spills, doing dishes, buying groceries, doing dishes--just far away from my family and some other things that made that life more comfortable. (Read: dishwasher.) But I would be remiss if I didn't say that we didn't see God working in truly beautiful ways, too. We've seen it wherever we've been. But it does take on new forms here.
Take yesterday, for example. Oliver, our house help (a female), asked me if I knew anything about treating tuberculosis. Uh, no, that's a good jump from my life experience. But I can Google! And if that doesn't work, I have a brother-in-law who's a doctor!
Oliver explained that a friend of hers has a sister with TB. The sister was told by a doctor that she would need a series of 60, count 'em 60, injections to treat her disease. This would obviously come at a significant expense to an impoverished family. When the girl showed no improvement after 45 injections--which would mean that tuberculosis is continuing, likened to coughing with razor blades in your lungs--the doctor gave up and told her he wouldn't do anymore. He was afraid of catching the disease.
Compare this with a simple Web search, where you can find that the World Health Organization, or WHO, has a 95% effective treatmeant plan called DOTS (Direct Observation Treatment, short-course). It costs $16-35--still pricey for an impoverished family, but usually not inaccessible--and it requires swallowing three tablets a week. It only took a telephone call to find a hospital in the girl's area that carried the DOTS treatment. Oliver's friend was, she reported, tremendously relieved, and couldn't believe that Oliver had cared that much about his family.
I marveled that God would be able to use something as simple as an internet search to make a difference like that. It also meant that without simple resources like a search that any American might do upon a diagnosis, such circumstances would cost a girl her life. Please pray that this treatment is actually effective, and that it allows this girl, Oliver's friend, and their family to witness and accept the power of the Gospel and God's hand in their lives.
John and a coworker had a similar situation a couple of weeks ago. Checking out the work of a potential construction team, they walked into a library that held 80 students, sitting there watching a movie. But looking above, they discovered that the trusswork was actually completed in such a way that the roof could feasibly collapse at any time. John and his coworker were able to discuss this with someone who could let the schoolboard know--and hopefully prevent a disaster.
Watching God work in ways that are more life-and-death is more humbling than a blog post can communicate. It reveals life for the tenuous gift it is, and God for the powerful master Builder and Healer that He is. I wanted to tell you about it not so that you get some glorified idea of missionary life, but rather so you could give credit where credit is due, and hopefully pray along with us. After all, are not each of us here for such a time as this?!
Author's note: See the follow-up to this post here!