Dysentery is Not My Friend

Bright and early this past Saturday morning, Jax and I surprised my big-hearted mother at the airport before she departed on a missions trip to Haiti. This would be her second year to make the trip, and she and the team were giddy with excitement and anticipation over how God would use them during their visit. My mom’s luggage was stuffed with goodies and treats to take to the children, and for several years she has been studying to master the native language of Haitian Creole. The team was ready.

Four days after their departure, my family still hadn’t heard any information from or about the group, which wasn’t totally unexpected given the lack of infrastructure in Haiti. While waiting for news of their safety, I experienced a nagging feeling of unease, more so than I did during her first visit, but I continued to combat it with prayer and trust.

Yesterday morning as I was arriving to the office, I got a phone call from my dad that put me in tears. The word from Haiti was that my mother had contracted dysentery and was in pretty bad shape. Dysentery is an infection of the intestines, usually caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. We’re not sure exactly how she got it, but we did know that she was severely dehydrated and depleted of nutrients. The team was trying to get her to a hospital, but as you can imagine, hospitals are not easy to come by in Haiti. We weren’t given much more information than this, which made the news even scarier. My mother is horribly ill in a foreign country with poor healthcare, and we had no way of communicating with her. My heart ached.

I immediately called Jax, then shakily emailed my bible study girls and other friends to ignite a prayer network. My aunts started working on potentially medevacing my mom home to the States if necessary, and we kept in touch via phone for the next several hours. I researched dysentery, and my stomach dropped at this line: If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal. Terror.

I begged God to take care of my mom, to comfort her, to protect and heal her. I reminded myself that God knows about her sickness, He allowed it, and that everything that happens to us – that is happening to my mom right now – was thought out by my infinitely wise God, and all that happens will ultimately be for our good and for His glory. No difficulty, pain, or trial happens to us by chance. There are no accidents, no mistakes, no miscalculations. All is under His sovereign control, and nothing is permitted but what He has decreed. I know this is not how my mom wanted to spend her time in Haiti, and though I may not understand why, I trust that He is working this situation together for good. 

I was bombarded with thoughtful messages all day – texts, emails, Facebook messages, phone calls. It was beautiful to feel so surrounded by love in such a dark moment of uncertainty. My mother is literally being lifted up in prayer all across the country, and that is a pretty comforting thought.

Later in the afternoon, I received a phone call from my mom! We only got to talk for a total of 15 seconds, but just hearing her voice flooded my heart with gladness. She sounded weak but said she was being treated in a hospital and feeling a bit better. The prayers were working! Now, the hope is that she recovers enough to travel back to Memphis with the rest of her team on Saturday. If not, she will not be permitted to board an international aircraft and will have to stay in the country until she is healthy. Not the worst thing that could happen, but not an ideal scenario, either.

I haven’t heard any news since then, and so I wait patiently and know that He is God.

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