I looked with pity on the well dressed women lying on the dental chair. Her hands shook and she cried in utter panic as she explained how traumatic her former experience with the dentist had been. We prayed and I reached for her hand. She pulled me down until I was nearly on top of her and held me with death grip. I held her too, as Luke gave her the anesthesia. Slowly her grip relaxed as he began the extraction. We met and conquered her fears... together.
I held the darling baby in my arms. Only two days old. I looked from the concerned faces of her family back down to her little face. A cleft lip. Could we fix it? We fixed other things in the mouth. Luke explained that this was beyond our scope, while discussing options for treatment with them. I cradled her and though of all the precious children born into the world like this. So many of them unable to get the needed surgery. In my heart I began to devise a plan to help this little one, and others I can find in this corner of the globe...
In the midst of a busy day at an outreach clinic, a cellphone blared "We wish you a Merry Christmas". Its owner hastily dug it out of his pocket to silence it, and I smiled. I was suddenly transported in memory to cold winter evenings, when with red cheeks and armloads of baked goodies, we caroled to one neighbor after another. The highlight of our holiday season. We always ended with that song. I look out of the window at the banana trees rippling in the tropical breeze. The calendar says that the holidays are near, but they seem so far away from this land of heat and sun. Still my heart was gladdened by sweet memories and the knowledge that I am where God wants me to be right now. My mind returned to the present and I handed Luke a pair of lower forceps. Still smiling.
After a long day, we gathered around the guitar and sang hymns we all love. Everyone sang in his own language, and the harmonies joined to create the sweetest music. In a lull between songs, our friends asked us if we had ever seen the bugs that come out of teeth. Bugs that come out of teeth?? They assured us that is was a phenomenon quite common to sick teeth. Though Luke concurred that perhaps a maggot might take up residence in a large food-filled cavity, he explained that it could only happen if a fly laid the egg in the mouth first. I leaned back my head to look up at the stars and thought of Louis Pasteur and micro class while Luke tried to explain the impossibility of spontaneous generation. They were respectfully skeptical. :) We all had a good laugh and returned to our singing under the African stars...
Today I was lying down for a moment after a busy morning. In the midst of an equally busy train of thought I was suddenly interrupted. I felt the baby move! For the first time! What a wonder of an experience.
All of these moments are like pearls stringing the days together. Thank God for the privilege of living this life.
P.S. The lady in the first story came back today for another extraction. Not a tear or a squirm. She only smiled and squeezed my hand knowlingly when I passed though and greeted her.