Little newborn Esther
After researching options for surgery for baby Esther (or Esita) who was born with Spina Bifida 2 weeks ago, I was glad to receive a text message from our Head Surgeon at Galmi Hospital telling me that I could send them there and he would personally do the surgery. (Galmi is our SIM mission hospital out east).
I quickly called Pastor, Esther's dad and my Chief Health Worker, and asked him if they could be on their way the next morning. They needed to leave as soon as possible. That was Saturday.
Best case scenario their trip would take at least 12 hours. From their village to mine, they would come on Pastor's motorcycle with his wife on the back holding their twin newborns. Since this is rainy season, the bush paths are rough - washed out and bumpy with water holes to cross (wading through with the bike). Once they reached Makalondi and caught a taxi bus, it would be at least two hours to
Cross the city in a taxi and catch a taxi bus heading east. The trip to Galmi would take at least 8 hours
with stops along the way. The voyage
there was daunting at best. Niamey
Pastor was glad to have a plan, and Sunday morning about 6 a.m., they left their other girls at home and headed out. I tried to call them throughout the day, but the calls wouldn't go through.
At Galmi, Deb was ready and waiting to welcome them. (Deb is our OT there and helped the twins' big sister Lina recover from being badly burned (Lina gets her Mask). Deb knows pastor and was so willing to help.
By 10 o'clock Sunday night I heard from Deb that the parents were still a good distance from Galmi. They would be traveling through the night. 6:15 in the morning, now Monday, Deb called to say that they were in a town about 30 min. away still trying to find a taxi bus to get them the rest of the way…
Now just STOP and IMAGINE making this trip! Riding a taxi bus is like being crammed in a 9 seater bus with 18 people! No air conditioning. No shocks. No space to nurse babies comfortably.
I couldn't even begin to comprehend what this trip of love was costing them!
A typical taxi bus heading to Niamey from Makalondi
Finally Pastor and wife caught a bus and arrived in Galmi. The 12 hour trip had become a 27 hour trip!
Deb met them and fed them, and then they took their sweet baby girl to be examined by the doctor. Dr. S. put Esther on some meds and then tentatively scheduled surgery for Thursday. Deb arranged for their room and after they settled in, while both babies slept, mom fell into a sleep of exhaustion. Pastor went walking to find where things were located, where food is sold, and to see this hospital he's heard so much about. (we at the clinic have referred patients to Galmi)
Later that morning, our son, Joe, flew the SIM Air flight into Galmi and Deb got to take him down to meet Pastor and his wife. I don't think it sunk in at that moment that he was my son.
Later I called to find out how they were doing. Pastor had so much to tell me, that he could hardly stop talking. He said that the trip was tiring, but "Praise God, we made it all the way. There were other taxi busses that were stopped by the big flood of water over the highway and they couldn’t continue!"
He was Happy! Yes, Happy! He was so impressed with the Hospital, with the Doctor, with the cleanliness, and the room. He was so thankful for Deb's kindness. He was so excited that he got to meet the Chaplain….
Pastor treating a patient at our clinic
He said, "I got to talk to the Pastor who works here. Do you know what he does? He gets to spend his days praying with patients and telling them the good news of Jesus!! Ohhhh, that would be my dream!!" and he chuckled. I had to chuckle too.
He also said, "I told them, I don't have anything to do while I'm here, so put me to work. I can change bandages. And they told me that I could help!" He was so happy.
When I told him that the pilot who came to greet them was my son, Pastor was joyfully surprised...and then he began to make the connection. He said he had just been so tired that it didn't sink in who this man was who had greeted him in Gourmantche, his own language. And then he laughed and laughed.
I was so humbled by their attitudes while going through these difficult circumstances!
So Thursday morning, baby Esther had surgery and she did well. The parents were thrilled. When I talked to Dr. S. and told him that we at clinic and in the village had been praying for him and for the baby, he wrote back, thanked us, and asked us to continue praying for Esther. Even before surgery she had begun to lose strength in her lower limbs…a risk with spina bifida.
Deb's specialty is Occupational Therapy, so she told me that she would begin to help them know how they will need to help her in the future to be as healthy and mobile as possible.
We'll keep praying that God, who has led them this far, will continue to show the parents their next step….and that God will continue to heal baby Esther. She's a treasure!