We have been here in Bunda for twelve years, but there are two Australian families, Anglican missionaries, who came about the same time we did—one with four children and one with five children, and the family of seven is still here. I was honored to have been able to watch both husbands ordained as Anglican priests and both families have been extremely helpful to us in bad health situations and have been friends all the time. Both of the wives have been inspirations to me, but one especially after she developed breast cancer about eight years ago. She and her family returned to Australia where she underwent radical surgery, chemo therapy, and fought, and fought, and fought till she was cancer free. Then, she and her whole family returned here to continue their mission work. To have been through all of that and then to want to return to continue to serve—that’s special. Her courage and commitment to Christ and His call to service is an inspiration. Less than a year ago, she and her husband had to return to Australia as both sets of parents were in ill health and needed the care and love she and her husband could give them. Before she left, I asked her if she ever thought she might return to the mission field. She just smiled and asked, “And how old were you when you came to Africa?” She had me because I was sixty when I started. It was sad to see them go, but we have been following their continued Christian work in Australia on Facebook. Karen and I were both shocked and saddened to hear just yesterday that she is once again in the grip of a very dangerous cancer. These are some of her words from her Facebook post yesterday:
My spine has multiple lesions—bone metastasis. They want to start five days of radiation therapy tomorrow to try and stop the lesions doing permanent nerve damage. In their words, buy some time to work out how to treat this cancer. We are honestly in shock. I wanted to see my kids grow older eight years ago when I faced cancer, and I have, but I want to renegotiate with God—I meant much older, but we don't get to negotiate we get to trust, we get to trust He is not surprised by today, trust He knows the days ahead, trust He is with us in these days..I want to say walk alongside Him but seriously I think this is where He is going to pick me up and carry me because I'm standing at the road ahead—and I'm scared.
Later in the post she talks about the “buckets of tears” they’ve been crying. Karen and I did our part to fill a bucket here in Bunda. I so wanted to be angry at God for continuing to punish this sweet servant of Christ’s, but I couldn’t because as you read in her words above, she isn’t angry at Him and is trusting in Him. How can I do any other but to trust Him as well?
Scrolling down on the Facebook page with tears staining my face, I came to a post from a woman complaining about her pain and nausea from having finally gotten the big boobs she’s always wanted. She even went on to say that if anyone saw her coming and it looked like she was juggling cantaloupes, those would be her fabulous new boobs. I went postal. After reading about the suffering of a woman who dedicated her life to the service of Christ in Africa and was still trusting in God, I was livid with this egotistic, vain, woman who had spent thousands of dollars just to feel better about herself. I went outside and yelled and hit things. I’m sure much of my anger was really about the sad news I had just received, but boy was I mad. I composed about ten responses to that vain woman but didn’t send any as they were all vicious. I calmed down as I thought about what my friend now facing a new and dangerous cancer would have said to her. Her words would have been thoughtful and caring and showing that woman with new boobs (whose cost could have fed two hundred orphans for ten years) compassion and love. That’s why that wonderful Australian woman is my hero and inspiration. I went back to try to find that post about the boob-job, but it had been removed. I don’t know why, but my guess is that there were some who were not kind to her, or maybe she was on pain-killers when she posted it and thought better about it later. It reminded me that I was judging (see previous blog) exhibiting prejudice (see previous blog) and had been about to do the wrong thing (see previous blog). My admiration for my hero through her suffering and even talking about God lifting her up and carrying her—well, she brought me back to why I am here, why Karen is here, why John is here, and why our other Australian missionary friends are here as well as the other missionaries all over this area. If you’d like to pray for her and her family, her name is Amy. God will know which Amy. I thank God I had the honor to know her and her family as she and they have made me a better Christian and a better man.