"Simon, Simon behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
These verses were part of my morning devotions the morning of Fri., September 22, 2017. I remember thinking what a terrifying thing to hear from Jesus that Satan has demanded me, but it is immediately followed with the comfort that Jesus had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail and that after this trial Peter would be stronger and would strengthen others. I was touched by these verses, but continued on with my day and forgot what I had read, what the Holy Spirit was preparing me for in the evening/days to come. It wasn’t until many days later, when I was back home with my son after an emergency craniotomy, did I remember these verses and how the Lord was preparing me to be sifted.
My son, Liam, came home from riding his bike shaken up after a bad crash off his bike. He was visibly shaken and obviously in pain, but aside from the abrasions on his back there was little indication of any serious trauma…until the vomiting began…and then the bleeding from his nose. We immediately thought concussion and treated him at home for this as his accident occurred late in the evening. It wasn’t until the bleeding from his nose continued did we get alarmed. He had not hit his face, only the back of his head, and we began debating about what to do. We ended up going to sleep that night with me sleeping in his room, waking him every couple of hours to check his symptoms. When Saturday morning came he seemed to be doing a little better, he hadn’t thrown-up in many hours, the bleeding from his nose had stopped and he was able to eat a little.
We were torn on whether he should go to the hospital or not. There were many things to consider that would never have been a consideration if we were not missionaries and still had all the comforts of our previous life e.g. health insurance, a vehicle, language to speak to the doctors, and knowledge of a safe hospital with knowledgable doctors to take him to. I was heart broken…there was nothing more that I wanted than to be assured that my sweet Liam was ok, but we had to weigh the options and acknowledge our limitations in resources/funds. So we prayed and trusted that the Lord would show us what to do and that He would take care of Liam. As the hours passed and Liam continued to seem ok, I began to relax and prayed, with the suggestion of a missionary friend here, to ask the Lord to make it crystal clear if Liam was to go to the hospital and then we would know that this was an emergency and we would go immediately…and within minutes of this prayer Liam began to decline and threw-up again. We immediately left for the hospital.
The hospitals in Brazil work very differently then in the US. There are 2 types of hospitals here, public and private. It depends on how much money you have, and how good/bad your heath insurance is that determines where you go to seek treatment, and unfortunately, not all public hospitals take everyone. We have very little money and no health insurance here, so I was afraid to take Liam to a public hospital for fear of incompetence and infection; however, we called an Uber, picked up my friend who would translate for us, and began the drive to a private hospital. En route, our Uber driver asked what health plan we had and when I said we had none he suggested the public hospital that was near our house, we were right at its entrance gates and I had an overwhelmingly sense that this was where we needed to go. The public hospital we ended up at is one that specializes in traumas and emergencies, so the corridors were lined with people suffering from motorcycle/car accidents, some gun shot victims, and so on. We were dropped at the front door where we waited for the woman before us to be loaded on a gurney writhing in pain from am altercation with a drug dealer. We were quickly brought in for testing where I was told that everything at the hospital was free…all of his CT scans, X-rays, blood work, etc, would all be free. I was overwhelmed by this provision…the Lord knew we had no resources for this emergency, but he guided us to the right place and provided.
Liam immediately had a chest and neck x-ray, followed by a CT scan, and blood work. As we waited in an observation room we received the news that he had a subdural hematoma. He had blood pooling on his brain and if it didn’t stop within the next few hours he would need to have an emergency craniotomy where they would cut a section of his skull, open it to relieve the pressure in his head; and to assure that he wasn’t continuing to bleed from an artery there may be a need to cauterize the artery to stop the bleeding, and lastly they would need to insert a tube to drain the pooled blood from his head. I was in shock. Here was Liam resting normally next to me, while two neurosurgeons were explaining the magnitude of his condition to me, and treatment may include drilling into his skull. How life changes so quickly…one night we’re out as a family enjoying a rare dinner out in town, and the following day we’re sitting in a foreign hospital receiving gut wrenching news that could have been life changing for us all.
I immediately called Kyle to tell him what was going on as the hospital allowed only one person to be with the patient at a time, but thankfully they allowed my friend who translated for me to stay as well. I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth as I spoke to him, “There’s blood in his skull”, “Surgery”, “Drill holes in his head”. I quickly began to send out prayer requests to anyone and everyone…we needed a miracle. We needed Liam’s next CT scan to show that nothing had progressed and that he would not require surgery, all the while they were admitting him into the pediatric intensive care unit. The waiting was not unbearable. There was peace and rest in the Lord that I had never experienced before. I was not worried about what was next, I felt the prayers of the hundreds and hundreds of people from around the world who were at that moment praying for Liam and for our family. We prayed for the kids in the room next to Liam’s; all who were suffering with their own very serious and life-threatening injuries. I prayed over Liam as we waited and told him that as much as I loved him and wanted to spare him from all of this, I knew that the he belonged to the Lord and that the Lord loved Him more than I, or his dad, could ever fathom and that he would be safe in the Lord’s hands. It gave me great comfort to know that I could do nothing but leave my baby in the hands of our Heavenly Father.
It was not the Lord’s will to spare Liam from surgery, he would need to go immediately into the operating room after we received the results of the latest CT scan. The Lord had given me rest and peace in my soul and had taken away any anxiety at that time that I may have had, in reality though it took me a couple of days to fully grasp the magnitude and severity of Liam’s injury, but I see this as the Lord’s covering as well He protected me as He did Liam. As I watched Liam get rolled into surgery I felt the enemy begin to taunt me. My mind went to places of darkness that I wish I never have to experience, and as each hour passed the more concerned I became. Although the doctors occasionally came out saying things were going well, it was taking almost twice as long as they had said. When Liam finally came out of the operating room my heart was paralyzed with fear…he was pale, he was on a respirator with a breathing tube attached, and his chest was moving in an unnatural manner do to the respirator breathing for him. I was not prepared to see him like this, nor was I prepared for the waiting that followed when I stood there watching my son having a machine breath for him, and waiting for him to wake up on his own. Nor was I prepared for when they told me that I would need to keep him calm when he began to breath on his own and began fighting his breathing tube. This waiting was almost unbearable. I wanted him to wake up, to breath on his own. I wanted to see the natural up and down movements of his chest from his own breath not from the machine. And then, he began to move and open his eyes. There was no greater joy then seeing him open his eyes when we asked and watch as he began to breath on his own.
God is good. Liam’s trauma could have ended very differently and God would still be good. He never left us, or forsake us. Although the enemy tried to distract us from our work, our mission, during this trial we never took our eyes off the Lord who sustains us. He provided Liam with one of the best neurosurgeons visiting from the south of Brazil who had just happened to be at this particular hospital on the same day as us. He sped up Liam’s healing which amazed all the doctors and nurses and allowed him to go home 3 days after his surgery. We were surrounded with love and support from friends all over the world, but particularly we were comforted and supported by our Christian family here in Brazil. We never once felt alone, we are so thankful for the amazing people the Lord has put in our lives who have offered everything from food and prayers to letting us borrow their vehicles.
We are blessed and continue to praise the Lord for His love and protection through this trial. We recognize that this could be a time where some would quit their work, maybe move back home to where things are easier, more comfortable, but this has only made our work here even more known to us…the enemy will not stop this work, he will not be victorious and so we press on even more fervently to the upward call of serving the Lord. We know that we, like all believers, will be sifted like wheat as Peter was…but, we do not lose courage as we know the Lord is for us and will strengthen/grow us through each trial and for this we are thankful.
Liam has now been home two days and has a fairly straight forward recovery, he gets to stay home from school the next 30 days which makes us all very happy to be able to spend more time together. Although Liam has a very hard time resting, it looks like he will make a full recovery. He has no cognitive damage, no memory issues, and is eager to be back to playing and riding his bike. Please continue to pray for him as he continues to heal for no infection, and for complete healing without any long-term effects.
Thank you all for your prayers, messages, cards, and calls. We all were carried by them through this difficult time. We love you guys!