Even if Josaphat could not jump up to greet me, his whole beaming countenance soared to great heights. It was a meeting I never anticipated having with that little boy and that even now when I think back to him my heart is filled with such thankfulness …
Twelve months ago, when Josaphat was 17, he had his first attack of epilepsy while he was out working in the forest sawing boards. The second time epilepsy struck him he fell into a cooking fire, passed out, and lay for what people think must have been nearly two hours as the fire burned both of his calves all the way to the bone. His co-workers found him and they took him to the government hospital and called for his mother. That dear woman, a widow and quite sick herself, sat at his side at the hospital for two months, watching her only son disappear before her eyes.
At the hospital it was her responsibility to find food for him and so after two months, her son emaciated, his wounds infected and infested with insects, she asked them to discharge her son so she could bring him home. After she got back here to the village, she came to me to tell me all that had happened and to ask if there was anything we could do. I gave her what I had on hand for her to make the trip, and wrote a note and asked the sisters at the Kibao hospital knowing that I could trust them to lovingly care for Josaphat. They would give the best care they could, and they would do it with love. Poor Elda’s situation touched me to my core. My son Joshua is the same age as her son Josaphat and I wondered what I would possibly do if I were in her situation. A week later the sisters called me to say that, in truth, his case was way beyond what they could do, and that they wanted to recommend that I find a way to send him to Ipamba Hospital. And so for all of these months Josaphat has been there at the Ipamba Hospital, with his mother at his side, and I’ve followed the text messages his mom would send to me on a borrowed phone. For months we have been looking forward to October as the month that visiting doctors from Germany were to come and that they would be able to operate on Josaphat. My heart sunk with the news that when they came they didn’t, for some reason, end up doing his surgery and that the next chance wouldn’t be until next year. And so we decided that Elda should bring Josaphat home and I followed his long journey through the text messages his mom sent as they were traveling. The bus broke down. There were other problems along the way but they finally made it home to their village late Friday night, and I could hardly wait on Saturday to finally meet Josaphat in person.
After all these months, this boy was coming back alive! He should have died and we all knew it. And on Saturday there I was giving and receiving hugs from people I have never met before as his extended family and all of the neighbors were there to celebrate the return home of this young man. And Josaphat just smiled his huge smile saying, “Thank you for helping me.” He was beaming from ear to ear. He can’t walk, but Josaphat’s spirit isn’t in the least bit disabled. His joy is so contagious one can’t help but be blessed by his presence. No wonder the nurses at Ipamba and Kibao kept telling me that they loved him so.
Josaphat’s legs were covered with bandages so I really couldn’t assess the situation. But our dear friend Dr. Leena, the missionary doctor from Ilembula Hospital, was making the long trip to our part of the world and she said she would visit Josaphat’s home and look under the bandages at his legs. It almost makes me cry to write it, but after looking at his legs, she said that she will personally come on October 29th and take Josaphat in her car all the way to the hospital because there is going to be a doctor who is going to be able to do Josaphat’s skin grafts and his operation, not sometime next year, but right here and now in October. I almost want to shout from the mountain tops about how wonderful this is. I can hardly believe it! All I was praying for was that somehow we’d be able to get a wheelchair and a treatment plan and I’d be able to bring Josaphat to school with me. But God heard that dear widow’s prayer in such a wonderful way. Her only son, the one she counted as lost, is going to be restored to her in an incredible way. It is happening and all of us in this village are witnesses to it.
I have to write to share with all of you who pray. I’m so happy I could burst. I couldn’t have even dreamed of this. I prayed for what I thought was impossible and God decided to do far beyond the impossible that I was hoping for. And so I ask you as my friends, over the next couple of weeks, to please pray for Josaphat and for the doctor who will be there and for Dr. Leena and her wonderfully generous spirit as God uses her to help our dear Josaphat. How I rejoice today!
Lots of love,