Monday, December 26, 2011

Almost Losing Our Son, and a Favor Returned

The amber syrup slid down my throat, reviving me after a hike through a quaint Borneo village two year ago. Life felt sweet and it was hard to believe any different at that moment.

The villagers of Data Dian harvest honey—the best I’ve ever tasted—and we were eating it slathered on pieces of bread in the village pastor’s house.

But life was different…and hard…and unfair. As we ate, Pastor Hendri and his wife told us about the little girl who had just drowned. That week, this village hosted a celebration of the Indonesian independence day, holding soccer tournaments, dance competitions and feasts for the holiday.

The day before our family arrived in an MAF airplane to enjoy the festivities, a girl from a neighboring village had been swimming in the river when she disappeared. The village men—including Pastor Hendri—searched for hours, dredging the river with strips of bamboo covered in thorns, until they found her lifeless body.

Our visit turned from one of enjoyment to one where we hoped to provide comfort for our friend and his wife. But then, it turned into something even worse…this time with our own son as the victim.

Evan was just over 1 year old at the time. Within an hour of finishing the late afternoon hike, he began to experience diarrhea. It came fast and often and quick, filling diaper after diaper every five minutes. Then as the jungle night swallowed the orange sun, Evan also began vomiting…just as often…for hours. And our hopes sank into darkness.

For about five hours, we cleaned up diarrhea and vomit, almost constantly, while Evan grew weaker, refusing any drink. He was losing fluids quickly in a place with no hospital, with no way out that night since Brad couldn’t fly the airplane off the dirt strip after dark.

Pastor Hendri and his wife sat beside us, cleaning with us, with the water dragged in buckets from the river. They brought the village doctor—a young Indonesian man who Brad had brought into the village the previous month. The doctor and the pastor’s family stayed up all night with us, praying for us, watching over Evan, cleaning, comforting.

(Above Picture--Pastor Hendri standing over Evan when we first arrived in Data Dian)

Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, the sickness eased and Evan, finally, drank. And I finally, breathed past the fear that I would lose my son.

We left at first light, flying out of the village that was still dealing with its own hurts, and now, with our big mess left behind in that pastor’s tiny house. Brad sees this pastor more often than I do since he flies in the region. But the couple of times I’ve seen him, the memory of his kindness toward us on that very dark night overwhelms me.

Yesterday, we saw him again. This time, Pastor Hendri was the victim. On Christmas Eve, he experienced a stroke while serving in his distant Borneo village. Another MAF pilot flew him on a medevac flight on Christmas morning into Tarakan. The flight cost pilot Tripp Flythe his Christmas morning with his family, one more cost in a season of hardships. But it probably saved Pastor Hendri’s life.

We visited him and his wife in the hospital. Disoriented, he could hardly talk or move. Brad stood over him and prayed and comforted, hoping for a happy ending.

What a privilege to serve and be served, to spend a life that costs so much but is invested in things that matter. To be part of a family of individuals and cultures that gives life to each other.

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