Moving here the reality that we live in two different worlds has become more and more apparent. A few days ago the Lord gave me the opportunity to meet this little angel…she is now most likely home with Him.
Her name means “flourishing” in the Ethiopian language but her body was not. Carried in by her elderly fragile mom, the journey had taken two days. Febrile, confused, laboring to breath, with blistered lips, and limp muscles; we were her mom’s last hope. She was dramatically anemic (her red blood cell volume was 1/3 of what it should be) and initially we were thinking…hoping…this would be severe malaria, as we have tools to address that. However, after all the labs came back, the picture was clear…leukemia.
This is where the contrast comes in…I’m already getting used to not have all the ‘gee-whiz’ tests and meds—however, it is quite a different thing to tell a parent it is time to take their child home to die. Ethiopians love their kids—the culture is dramatically different than ours, but the love is not. Sometimes their love has a different face, which appears confusing to my Western mind, but it’s really no different.
A meeting with a chaplain, prayers offered, blood and antibiotics were given to ensure she could indeed make it back to her earthly home prior to heading to her eternal home. What a contrast. Praying through this, I was reminded of another little angel the Lord allowed me to care for who is now also with the Lord. Two different young girls—both adored by their parents who came seeking a miracle.
One owns a single set of clothes. She took a bus two days to arrive nearly dead at our hospital in the middle of nowhere in southern Ethiopia. No money in hand, just hope. The other arrived at my small clinic in Korea. Her journey (as written below) to the hospital in Hawaii was on two separate US Air Force jets flown in especially for her. There were twin medical evacuation teams, as well as a whole team of military docs, literally waiting for our arrival. The first, I bet received 3 or 4 days of life from our interventions—the second three and one-half years.
I heard a quote from Pastor Tim Keller recently; “God answers our prayers in the same way we would answer our prayers, if we knew what He knows”. I praise God that He is too big for my little mind to understand, and that while my heart was broken twice this week as I told parents their child would die, I can with full confidence know that He knows. He numbers our hairs, bottles our tears and loves His children more than we can fathom. I also praise Him that these two little ones are now free from their failing bodies.
I also want to thank all of you who have given our family the privilege to reflect Him to His cherished ones as they journey home.
My Prince Of Peace
A Testimony of God’s Sufficient Grace while I med-evac’ed a special patient from Korea to Hawaii.
Dave Ayer (December 2008)
8:30 am December 2nd Camp Walker Clinic Taegu, South Korea
A favorite family of mine lays before me their angel, Little A, cachectic, struggling for breath, she smiles, forced to speak in brief sentences. She will be three in January. A malignant, soft ball-size tissue protrudes from her sacrum…
Father, she’s sick and I know not what lies ahead for her, nor even where to start…
“But now, this is what the Lord says– he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” Isaiah 43:1-3,5
6:30 pm December 2nd Dongsan University Hospital Pediatric ICU Taegu, South Korea
Her CT scan show the impossible, it’s far worse than I could have imagined. Countless metastatic tumors fill her lungs, her pelvis brims with cancer—one mass extends to the base of her lungs. Maybe 50% of her lungs are functional…
How Father? How can I tell these parents their angel is dying before our eyes?
“…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:19-20
4:30 am December 3rd Camp Walker Clinic Taegu, South Korea
Air evacuation arrangements are finalized, eight to twelve hours until we fly to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. Due to the urgent need of evacuation, I will be her medical attendant. I have never done anything like this before—I am officially scared.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2
11 pm December 3rd K2 Airbase Taegu, South Korea
Nervous and exhausted, Little A, her 4 month old brother, mom, dad and I board a C-130. She has worsened but is in stable but moderate pain and terrified. The noise is deafening. Her pain cuts my soul—it can’t be treated adequately, for it would worsen her breathing.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear…” Hosea 6:1-3
3am December 4th, Kadena Airbase Okinawa, Japan
Last transfer, we board a C-141.
Lord, my body is starting to fail me. I need your strength.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
10:30 am December 4th, Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean
Little A is slowly decompensating and requiring more oxygen with less effect. We’re two and a half hours out. I call for medical advice and cry out for spiritual intercession.
Father, if ever in my life I have needed you, it is now…
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. …”Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:1-2, 11-15
No intervention is made…her oxygen saturation begins to rise.
1pm December 4th (Korea Standard Time) Hickam Airbase Honolulu, Hawaii
Touch down, American soil has never felt so sweet.
4pm December 4th (KST) Tripler Army Medical Center Honolulu, Hawaii
Little A is intubated and taken to the OR for line placement and biopsy. Fourteen hours later chemotherapy is started.
I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people…Your path led through the sea your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen…” Psalm 77:1-15,19
60 hours of Heavenly strength on 90 minutes of sleep.
My bride of quiet strength and powerful prayer
A Battalion Commander, Sergeant Major, Chaplain, and others who personify compassion, support and love.
A world wide community…Thailand, France, England, Kenya, Senegal, Germany, St Croix, Nigeria, Iraq, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Minnesota, Utah, Nevada, Virginia, Maryland, Wyoming, Nebraska, California, Illinios, Alaska…of prayer warriors standing in the gap, asking for a miracle
One Almighty God who listens…and answers
In Korea we have a saying “Katchi Kapshida”, it means “we go together” in reference to the Korean & US military alliance. It will never mean that to me, for now I understand what He has spoken…
“Be strong and courageous…The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8
My prayer this Christmas season is two fold:
One…Little A—her first round of chemotherapy went well but her path will be long and painful, much more prayer is needed.
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14
Two…I pray that you may know the living Savior, My Prince of Peace, who has and will go before you in every circumstance.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6