You were right Jerry

You’ll hold children that are dying……..he said to me and let the weight of it hang in the air for a minute before moving on.  C’mon I said to myself, don’t be so dramatic.  I’m just going there to help out with the computer systems.   My friend Jerry was trying to get through to me the gravity of what living at a missionary hospital would be like – he was trying to make sure that I understood what we (my family and I were getting ourselves into).   I’ve since told Jerry how right he was and I would have to say to him tonight, you were right again, Jerry. 

Many of you know that I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for about 10 years in Colorado and I absolutely loved the work.  Many times I’ve prayed that God would use the gifts and skills that I developed during that time here in this time at Hospital Loma de Luz.  Several times God has answered that prayer and in the last week, I’ve had the awful privilege of assisting (in a small way) with two children who have died here at the hospital. 

The first was a young boy who had been a drowning victim who came in last Thursday – the day before Good Friday.  It took way too long to get him to the hospital and there seemed no hope at all for him.  I was able to help with CPR as the doctors worked beyond diligently to revive him.  I was so impressed with their dedication to exhausting every possible alternative before declaring him deceased.  He was a three year old boy.  As a father, it is so easy (for me anyway) to see your own child laying there – and realize how lucky you are that a similar disaster hasn’t befallen you.  As we cleaned the child’s body up and prepared him for his mother to see him, I was struck by the profound sadness of the whole situation. We’ve since heard rumors of dereliction of parental duty involved in the accident that, if true, compound the tragedy so much more.  As his mother came in saw him, she (as is common for this area) screamed and cried in a way that is not normal for us as North Americans.  It is hard to describe the physical and emotional exhaustion from working in a situation like this for an extended period of time (over an hour).  I walked away from there feeling like I had nothing left.  I drove up the hill and stopped at my favorite spot overlooking the Caribbean and just cried and cried from sheer emotional exhaustion and the sadness of the loss of a child.  You were right Jerry.

Today (6 days later) – it happened again.  A lady came in to the hospital after 14 hours of hard labor up in the mountains and with a pregnancy that was already three weeks overdue.  The medical staff that attended her decided that we needed to get her to the nearest full service hospital as soon as possible for a cesarean section and I was asked if I could drive her into La Ceiba (about an hour and a quarter away) along with a nurse.  This is a fairly common task for me (usually in the middle of the night) and one that I am happy to be able to help with.  Well this lady was just too far along and as I got there and as we were preparing to load her up in my truck for a rush trip to town, she started pushing in earnest and the baby began to crown.  Well, needless to say we were stuck and immediately switched to delivery mode.  I’ve been able to help out with several deliveries now and so I put some gloves on and got ready to help.  Unfortunately, this baby had been in the birth canal under stress for way too long and was born not breathing. The doctors tried so hard for so long to revive the child.  Once again, I was just struck by their dedication to exhausting every possible alternative before giving up hope.  In each case, we prayed during the resuscitation efforts many many times and implored God to help and to return life to these children.  For the second time in less than a week, I assisted a nurse in cleaning up the child’s body so that their parents could hold them and say goodbye to them.  This time I was able to hand the newborn over to her mother and tell her with complete confidence that she was “with God” and “in His hands” now.

I wanted to share these events with you and let you know how thankful I am to have the opportunity to be involved here with the ongoing work of the hospital, even when it is events as sad as these were (are).   I know it sounds crazy, but these profound moments in my life make me so much more appreciative of the life and health that we enjoy and so aware of the difficulties of others, that I really am thankful for them.  I believe they make me a better Christian and a better missionary and that they help me to more useful here in this place.  Hope that makes sense.  Jerry, you were right.  More right than probably you or I could have known at the time……