God Heals a Blind Woman!

I alluded to this story in my initial post about my Honduran experience titled Healing in Honduras. My most treasured experience from Honduras was during the visit to Catarina, a local hospital. Our team of fifteen split into three groups to visit different areas within the building. I was placed on the team heading to the maternity ward. Allow me paint the scene for you:

It’s a balmy 95 degrees and there isn’t any air conditioning. The hallways buzz with shuffling nurses, doctors, patients, and visitors. If the patients want cool air, they must bring a fan, otherwise they just sit and sweat. I’ve never been pregnant, but I imagine that heat exacerbates the discomfort of being nine months expectant. Each hospital room had four beds, but there weren’t any kind of dividers between the beds.

The plan was for the four of us teammates to take turns praying for the women as Jake translated for us. We had gotten into a rhythm of asking about the woman and her pregnancy, how her baby was doing, and what we could pray about for them. We had been through two rooms when we got to the room with the blind woman.

She was groaning in agony; she immediately caught my attention. She was not like the other women in the room. She was trembling. She was thin. She was frail. She stared at the ceiling but saw nothing. I whispered to my teammate that I thought she might be blind. I’m apologetic to admit that I wasn’t echoing the prayer of my teammate as they prayed for the first woman we visited in that room, but I was completely captivated by the blind woman. My heart and mind was churning. Something in my soul was pulling me toward her. When it was time to pray for her, it was not my turn in the rotation to pray, but our leader, Maggie, asked if I would. Thank you, God! She was a sweaty, sticky mess despite her feeling cool to the touch. She was saying a phrase over and over, and Jake translated to me that she was asking to see her baby.

“That’s odd,” I thought, “she literally cannot see her baby. She’s blind.” But I knew what she meant. It turns out that her baby had been born three weeks prior to our visit. The grandmother to the baby and mother of this sickly new mom sat at the foot of the bed. We asked her to elaborate on the situation. She informed us that her daughter delivered a healthy baby, but the process made her incredibly sick. Complications led to infections, and the doctors had no hope for her recovery. This woman was waiting for her daughter, this new mom, to die.

I found my fingers running through her matted hair; my hands ran down the length of her arms and back again. All I wanted was to take her pain away. I began to pray for her, but her wails for her baby continued. Our time with this patient ended and my team moved to the next bed, but my feet were planted in place. I was bound to her for the time being. My team was ready to move on to the next room, but Maggie recognized I needed to stay, so they moved on without me.

I got so lost in comforting this poor young woman that it felt like we were the only two people in the room. My eyes searched her body: open sores on her lips, bruises from IVs, arms and legs that had dwindled to mere flesh and bone. I could not bare her failing physical appearance any longer, so I closed my eyes and prayed. When I ran out of things to pray, I began to sing:

You are good / You are good / When there’s nothing good in me

You are love / You are love / On display for all to see

You are light / You are light / When the darkness closes in

You are hope / You are hope / You have covered all my sin

You are peace / You are peace / When my fear is crippling

You are true / You are true / Even in my wandering

You are joy / You are joy / You’re the reason that I sing

You are life / You are life/ In You death has lost its sting

I’m running to Your arms / I’m running to Your arms

The riches of Your love / Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace / Light of the world forever reign

 

I barely got through line “on display for all to see” before I choked back tears. Despite my valiant effort, I wept over this poor woman as I continued to brokenly sing this song. I sang it a few times through before I realized I had actually drenched this girl in my tears. It was freeing to be so wrapped in worship, but I did know how long I had been there, so thought it would be best to rejoin my team. I turned away from this dear young woman, but met her mother at the end of the bed. She stood up to hug me. We could not verbally communicate, but we wrapped up each other in a tender embrace. We held one another, and we both began to cry. We held onto that moment for a few minutes. I felt the release of her tension as she let out a sigh. I do not think I have ever experienced such a pure moment in all my life. It felt like she somehow endowed me with her mother’s heart. I felt her pain. I felt her heaviness of losing her daughter. I felt her receive peace. She pushed me away far enough to look into my eyes, and she told me she loved me. That was when I was healed of my blindness.

 

I am the woman that was healed from her blindness. I did not previously truly see how Jesus is peace when we have crippling fear. I had not seen how Jesus was the light when there is nothing but darkness shrouding a situation. I had not seen before how the sting of death could be lessened, but I saw it in that mother by her carrying Jesus’s peace deep within her soul despite her daughter’s pending death. Jesus is life. I see that clearly now.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Ingram, Jason and Reuben Morgan. (2009). Forever Reign [Recorded by Hillsong Music Publishing]. On A Beautiful Exchange. USA: Shout! Publishing.

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Healing in Honduras

Before I get into the exciting Honduras details, you’ve got to patiently wade through the muddled details of the story leading up to the healing. We’ve all had those experiences that cut so deeply that we avoid any conversation or thoughts about it. For me that experience was the World Race in January/February 2015. I identify that experience as my greatest failure and hurt. Now don’t misunderstand me- I said it was my failure, but God didn’t fail in that experience. He was with me every step of the way into getting on that plane to India as well as on that flight back to the States nine and a half months earlier than anticipated. He’s faithfully used my mistake to cultivate humility in my heart that otherwise I would have been lacking. Something that he taught me from this wounding experience is to ask myself this: Will it be easier to stay or easier to go?

When I came home in February 2015, it was painful. I remember asking myself before I left, would it be easier to stay and finish the next 9 months or return home to face how I’ve been running away from what to do with my life? I struggled with talking to the people who had sacrificially donated to my trip only for me to squander their money by quitting the mission trip. I abused sleep-inducing cold medicine for my first week home because I’d rather sleep than face my reality. It would be easier to sleep than to face my problems. My reality was that I had been a poor steward of money for a mission trip, and I had never let down so many people at once. Nobody was personally upset with me but more with the situation. I also was terrified because I had some ideas about what I wanted to do when I returned home and was terrified when I actually sat down to further investigate that path and felt God telling me “no”. I thought I had clearly heard God calling me into something, but I was wrong. It would be easier to start a new career path than to turn back and humbly accept that I had made a mistake in quitting the teaching program. I was left to sit in my mess of confusion. I remember the heavy snow that same down during that February. I remember singing about how Jesus washes us whiter than snow. In that moment I remember that nothing is untouchable or unchangeable by Jesus’s blood… not even the mess of a life I had created for myself. You see, the reason I had signed up for the World Race was because I was running away from some things. I was scared and a year of traveling around the world seemed like a great way to simultaneously escape my fear as well as serve God, so I signed up. My life was in such disarray because I had spent the entirety of 2014 earning my Master’s degree… It would be easier to spend a year serving than figuring out what to do with my degree. I worked on my Master’s degree because I was running away from what God had first called me to: teaching.

It was August 2013. I sat in a Newport News elementary school classroom for a day of professional development. My heart raced, I grew flushed, and I fled the scene. I got in my car, drove a teary-eyed hour to my parent’s house, and declared I didn’t want to teach anymore. I reckon that is what is referred to as a panic attack. Unfortunately, I ran away from teaching and never looked back. If I had, I may have been able to recognize that it was simply the age group that freaked me out, not the profession of teaching. I eventually figured that out, but I took the long way around… as in India. It took me seventeen months and being halfway around the world to realize something God has already laid on my heart: teaching was what God had for me. That was my vocational calling. My dad gently reminded me of my love for teaching and encouraged me to apply for the open position at the high school in my town. Long story short, I got the job and fell madly in love with teaching again. However, while my heart was softening to teaching, my heart was hardened to mission work.

In my mind, I wasn’t cut out for missions, especially internationally. I spent the last half of 2015 and the entirety of 2016, as well as the present, pouring into ministries and discipling people in my community, but my heart remained hardened to the call to go past the borders of the good ole U. S. of A. Not being designed to serve in international missions was a lie I chose to believe because I didn’t ever want to ask anyone to financially support me ever again. I chose to believe the lie because I didn’t ever want to leave for another mission trip and quit. The way I see it, you can’t quit if you don’t try, so I fell into contentment of being within my comfort zone. Every time I heard the announcements for the Honduras trips at church I felt that tinge… you know, the warm feeling within urging us to “go”. I was so wrapped up in believing the lie that I ignored it for two years. One Saturday I was serving at the Coastal Food Pantry and a dear friend made it known that there was an open spot on the 2017 Spring Break trip to Honduras. My heart sank. I told him I’d think about it. You see, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. If I was going to be an international missionary, I was going to make sure that I was running toward something and not away from something.

Around that time Coastal had a sermon about restitution. It came to mind that weekend as I was praying about the decision to go to Honduras. As I listened to the leaders describe the details of the trip, I felt my heart softening. Could it be that going to Honduras might bring restoration for the pain of the World Race experience? Could God possibly want me to be a missionary for him outside of my community? As I prayed for direction, my hardened heart turned to putty. I submitted my deposit the next week. I had to face a myriad of memories and emotions from the whole process of prepping for the World Race, going to training, the highs of leaving, the lows of returning, and how it had taken every bit of the past two years to resolve the pain from that hurtful experience. Being in Honduras last week definitely assured me that I am cut out for international missions. However, I didn’t become fully healed until this past Sunday when I returned home to my church family. I had a brief yet tremendously significant conversation with the friend that had invited me to Honduras. My friend told me he was glad that I went, and he could tell that God used our time in Honduras to return me to another call in my life: international missions.

I do not know the capacity of this calling yet. I know that last week I encountered God in many beautiful new ways. I know that leaving Honduras was harder than leaving Nepal and India. The ministry I did in the latter two countries was enjoyable, but serving the community in Honduras changed my heart. Would it be easier to stay in America or jump into ministry in Honduras now? It would be easier to leave everything behind and run to Honduras now, but I know that God has made it clear that I shouldn’t take the easier road. I trust that God has softened my heart for Honduras for a reason, and I trust that he has a purpose for me there in a capacity that is yet to be determined. Pictured below is a snapshot of the ministry that captivated my heart.

 

praying Honduras hospital.jpg

 

I was deeply in my element at this hospital in the *non-air conditioned* maternity ward. I couldn’t wait to visit each woman and get in there with prayer. Pictured above was one of the women I was able to pray for concerning her pregnancy. I deeply enjoy engaging with people and God in prayer. It is a beautiful intimacy, and I cannot get enough of it. The presence of the Holy Spirit was with me! I felt led to do many things, but that’s a story for another blog! To be continued…