A few months ago Jeff got a a call from W, another missionary in the country. He was wondering if we could help a friend of his, a 21 year old young man who had had a terrible motorcycle accident and was left with an infected leg. Jeff knew we had an orthopedic team coming in March and asked me what I thought we could do.
And so began our story with O. I have asked him and his colleagues if I could share his story because it’s been powerful for me. O was not born in the DR but came here as a toddler. About a year ago he was the only survivor in a motorcycle accident and his leg was severely injured with broken bones and lacerations. Unfortunately it seems that he received subpar care in a hospital in another city and his leg became terribly infected.
Several months ago another ministry team working in his area met him and then directed him to some of their medical professionals who tried to treat him and help him with his leg. They introduced him to ANOTHER ministry in the south and eventually through the help of several different ministries…. Jeff received the phone call inquiring if we could help. After Jeff talked to me I called Dr. Canario and asked if we could help this patient. Because of his immmigration status in the DR I knew that transportation could be a problem and that they had requested a letter stating that we would accept O in our clinic. Dr. Canario said yes, that we would write the letter and accept him. Next I wrote to the ortho surgeons and sent them a picture of O and his leg. Both of them immediately requested x-rays, which I communicated to W. W had x-rays for us within a day or two and I sent them to the surgeons. Both surgeons stated that O’s case looked to be a probable amputation.
Amputation. It’s a heavy word. I felt nervous about it but communicated their thoughts to W. He talked to O and O immediately opted for a consult and potential surgery with our surgeons. O came on the directed date with three supportive friends from the ministry who were caring for him. On the Monday morning of the consults Nefthali called me into the room after the surgeons had talked to O. He was so brave….and yet so sad. It’s true- an amputation was the only way out for him. But he remarked that he felt alone, that he had no family. And Nef stepped in to point out all the different ministries, the ones who had brought him in, those advocating for him…and said “WE are your family here…those who found you, those who brought you and those who will care for you”. I looked at O and it was hard not to let tears fall. Life changing surgery. And life SAVING surgery.
The evening before O’s surgery he came to spend the night in our clinic. He rolled up with a big grin on his face, so brave. I knew he believed in Jesus, but I was slayed when I saw that he had written on the dressings that were wrapped around his infected leg. He had written in black marker “GIVE ME STRENGTH HOLY SPIRIT, FILL ME WITH YOUR LOVE”. I had to step out to not cry in front of all of the patients. The team nurses came in and let him borrow their Ipads to play games and the Guesthouse sent over yummy food for him to eat for dinner. His smile and positive attitude was so evident to all of us. Ronny and some of the other translators prayed for him before surgery and we knew that he HAD received strength, and that he was filled with God’s love.
O’s surgery was a very successful amputation by some of the most wonderful orthopedic surgeons that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Thank you Dr. Julie and Dr. Hugh! O had little pain and great support as he recovered through the night. He was a VIP patient and even received a special supper from Jeff of chicken and tostones as the ortho team nurses again let him borrow their Ipads and spent one on one time with him doing puzzles and encouraging him. I played some worship music for him as I prepared the room for more patients and his face lit up. There is just something about him that drew all of us to him. We watched him carefully and just knew that he is and will be an OVERCOMER.
It was Jesus who brought him to us. There were 3-4 different ministries that were involved in meeting O, treating O, befriending him, supporting him, and getting him to us. The ministries in Barahona are housing him as he recovers and they are caring for him personally. I look at the steps that it took for him to come here and know that this was orchestrated by the One who DOES strengthen us and fill us with His love.
I’m not going to compare my life to O’s or my life circumstances to his. But I will say that in some ways I feel like there are some emotional amputations coming my way. Leaving the DR, saying goodbye to ministry and these folks and this life feels like emotionally losing a part of me. It’s not fair to say it in reference to O’s life, but I’m going to say it anyway. Maybe this is why I felt like I so connected with him, why I want to be brave like him, why I mourned inside with him and for him. Loss…..is so hard.
And yet, I’ve had Jesus all along. He brought me here and He’s walking right there with me as the exit comes closer. I could see it in O and I can see it in my life. There are so many loved ones supporting me, loving me, bringing us to divine appointments, writing us letters of encouragement, walking this walk with me. They are the face of Jesus to me, living out His incredible love. Mom has been right here with me in San Juan, caring for Magdalena, serving us so selflessly, watching me cry packing suitcases and then helping me get excited about spending more time with her and Dad and the family and friends in the States, especially with Madi. There is so so much to look forward to. I’m so excited for the next step, and of course so sad and terrified as well.
I watched O walk out of our clinic that next day, so handsome in his formal dressy clothes, his trouser leg already pinned up and neat. He was prepared. He was positive. He was brave and smiling. He was surrounded by love and knew that he was headed somewhere where folks were really going to love him and care for him. He was ready for his new life.
And I’m not quite ready yet…but I’m almost there. The words on his dressings continue to run through my mind and I recite them to myself both as a reminder and encouragement. GIVE ME STRENGTH HOLY SPIRIT. FILL ME WITH YOUR LOVE.
Amen, sweet O, amen. May God shine His face upon you. May He use you in mighty ways for His kingdom. You. Are. Loved. And so am I.