Monday, October 20, 2008

My Angel

Let me tell you about Petra.

I first met Petra when we arrived in the village. I did not speak her language and she does not speak Spanish. At the time, we were living in a borrowed indian house while we built our own house. My youngest was not yet walking, and I also had a 3 year old, a 7 year old and a 10 year old. We still had our indian daughter with us at the time. She was 16.

Clint was busy from sun up till sundown. Getting poles from the jungle, making adobe bricks, getting leaves for the roof. I was busy teaching all the children and carrying water, doing laundry in the river, washing dishes in the river, cooking over an open fire.

All was going well, until one day, indians began to get sick. We had over 80 cases of malaria in one month. We had no radio to call for outside help, so we were doing all the medical work ourselves.

One morning, I taught my 7 year old son his math lesson and left him to do his work sheet as I went to begin cooking . After a few minutes I went to check on how he was doing...I saw my son passed out at the table! He had been fine just 30 minutes earlier! I felt him and he was burning with fever.

He had contracted falciparum malaria. This is a cerebral malaria which comes on fast and strong. We had a microscope to do the blood work and we had the quinine to treat it. So we began his treatment. On the third day when he was finally able to talk and walk with our help, the 3 year old also came down with malaria. Hers was vivax malaria, though not as dangerous ,she was still very feverish and in a lot of pain. Next was our indian daughter, she also contracted falciparum malaria. Then...the baby! She came down with vivax malaria.

Quinine is the most bitter pill you can imagine! Trying to get it down a one year old is a real struggle, but we managed.

We had so many sick, we began to run short of medication. We still had quinine , but no analgesics for pain and fever. I began to crush up Tylenol for babies. I remember giving my last dose to one poor toddler.

That night, I began to feel achy! Then the fever. And a terrible head ache! Sure enough, I also had malaria. I developed a bad case of strep throat as well, from working with the sick children. We had no more antibiotics and no pain reliever.

At one point I began to hallucinate. I don't remember much. I remember worrying about my children. They were still sick.

Thankfully, my husband and Jackie somehow were spared malaria that time. We had to wait for the scheduled flight day to go out for help and the antibiotics I needed. I sort of remember the flight, but the fever was very high.

But...what I wanted to tell you is how Petra would come everyday and hold my sick baby. I was too weak to care for the little one, and Petra took it upon herself to come each day and stay most of the day. She was the one to make sure Jayde got all of the quinine down and kept it down. She made sure we had water in the house.

I couldn't speak to her much at the time, but later, she told me how she felt that she was led to care for us and the baby. Even when we returned, all healthy, she would come and sit in on our home school classes and entertain the baby for me.

She said she wanted to help me, so that after I finished teaching my kids for the day, I would have the time and energy to learn her language.

WHY? So I could teach her the Bible! She did all in her power to help me to learn the language so that I could begin a ladies Bible study.

It took a few years, but I did begin a ladies bible study twice a week...and I know Petra will be rewarded by God for her ministry to me and my family when we most needed it. She may not look beautiful to you, but to me....she is an angel!

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


MightyMom said...

would you please put a kleenex warning before you post these?? geez.

actually, I thought from that first pic that she was very beautiful. What a wonderful lady. I'm sure you miss her very much.

gecko said...

Not a great way to for you to start your last new adventure! I've always been amazed how (mostly) people can communicate and care for one another, no matter of their race, colour, or location.
She must have admired, and been inspired by you for all the love and care you showed to her people.
I admire you, as I have worked in similar conditions, perhaps not quite so remote and with so little equipment, keep up the good work. God Bless.

Nina in Portugal said...

Beautiful story.

What makes it so beautiful is that it's true.

She IS a beautiful lady!

Deedra said...

She is a very beautiful woman. She has a face filled with kindness at very first glance! What an amazing amazing lady!

Humble wife said...

*Petra* was your rock!! Smiling here that you had such a dear sweet kind friend.

Jane said...

A beautiful story and a beautiful angel!

Charles said...

Such a wonderful story.

redneck preacher said...

Awesome post. I think it is different for gals and guys. A woman who loves as this lady does has a physical appearance of a peaceful beauty. I've seen it over and over how a hard woman can go to a sweet beauty after she gets saved and grows in Christ. Guys get better and stuff but it comes through the face of a godly woman.

I think she is beautiful


Barbara H. said...

What a sweet lady.

Brooke said...

Petra is very beautiful... Especially the kindness in her eyes!

Anonymous said...

Malaria is very bad news. Didn't that government do any suppression work? It can be kept in check with just a little spraying around fixed installations.

Jungle Mom said...

The mission purchased a fumigator and we began a 'war' to exterminate the mosquitoes and malaria.
We went from averaging 50 cases a month to 3! We also helped with providing mosquito netting for hammocks.
After a few years we worked with a government funded group to fumigate each village on our river every three month. This program is no longer working due to the Chavez regime.

John said...

"Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." 1 Peter 3:3-4.

It seems that Petra is the very kind of woman that Peter was describing. May her tribe increase.



crazy4danes said...

Wow! What an amazing woman! And what wonderful stories you have to tell, they are truly inspiring and uplifting! THANK YOU! :)

Anonymous said...

Petra's beauty is obvious in her face.

Lovely lady also has inner beauty!


Findalis said...

Angels come in all shapes and sizes. They are the ones who God chooses to do his work, for His reasons.

groovyoldlady said...

I love the way God uses unexpected people to bless us when we're going through trials.

How awesome that you were later able to converse with her and teach the truth of God's word.

Boludo Tejano said...

Fascinating tale, JM. Your love for the jungle and its people, for all the challenges that presents someone from the "developed" world, shines through.

Did you get a chance to read the links I gave you for PH? An interesting character whose life story has in some ways paralleled yours. As the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction, or often more fascinating than fiction.

Jungle Mom said...

BT, yes, I enjoyed the links greatly and would love to be able to contact him.
I also emailed you, do not know if it went through.