“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” – C.S. Lewis
I have heard many people say (including myself) something along the lines of, “I feel closer to God in this place”. While being in Honduras does not make us any closer to God than if we were anywhere else in the world, it does usually strip away all the false safety nets and worldly comforts we can grow accustomed to when we have an abundance of things (food, cloths, shelter, electricity, etc.). It is when I see my fellow humans, in what is easily recognized as dire circumstances, exhibit and exude joy, strength, and peace that I get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
It was just another Saturday night when the call went out over the radio, “CQ Balfate, CQ Balfate, rapid response trauma, emergency room”. Upon arrival I beheld two bruised and battered men (one in his mid-20’s and the other in his mid-30’s); the result of a multiple vehicle/moto accident. One of the men had his left lower leg hanging on by only a few inches of skin and muscle with grass and dirt caked in his wounds. The other had his right lower leg completely mangled. Our team knew within a few seconds that both would require above-the-knee amputations to save their lives.
The first step was to stabilize the patients as best as possible which meant stopping the bleeding with a tourniquet and special dressings and giving large amounts of IV fluids and eventually blood (donated by family members on the spot). Each man had a full body exam to ensure there were no other less obvious signs of trauma (like internal bleeding or organ damage). Then we had to come up with a plan for how to manage both patients with one surgeon, one anesthesia provider and just a few staff available. They were brought back quickly in separate operating rooms for emergency surgery.
I will spare you the painstakingly specific details of how we coordinated running two operating rooms at the same time with limited staff but suffice it to say that by God’s grace and provision both men made it through surgery and are now on the long road to recovery (both physically and mentally/emotionally/spiritually). Please pray for them as they continue the process of healing and for us as we navigate caring well for both their physical and spiritual needs. Both men were counseled about their accidents and both have expressed gratitude that God provided the treatment they needed to save their lives. It was a surprise to me that during such a traumatic experience, these patients were giving thanks to the Lord.
While it is true that we do have a lot of resources compared to many third world hospitals (but not anywhere near the resources of first world hospitals), we have found that regardless of the circumstances God provides the strength, comfort, peace, hope, and eventual joy that we (both ourselves and our patients) need when we seek him in all circumstances. We have experienced and continue to see time and again that, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46: 1-3); as a result, we get a glimpse of a little piece of heaven right here on earth.