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Gratitude Smiles Against the Odds

Ibu Deby inside MAF Hospital House
Ibu Deby inside MAF Hospital House
The woman is 32, with a daughter who will turn 4 a month after my own daughter does. Ibu Deby’s older kids are back in their village—they have to go to school. So, they can’t wait with her in town as she undergoes chemotherapy treatments at the hospital. They can’t wait for the cancer to go away.

If it goes away.

Her husband stands next to her. He has a job back in their village, but he hopes to be there with her as much as he can, in the small isolation room with the dingy walls. But sometimes he’ll have to go back to check on the other kids, taking the 20-minute MAF airplane ride so the trip doesn’t take hours on an island river.

MAF Hospital House in Indonesia
MAF Hospital House in Indonesia
The other MAF wives and I chat with them while our kids draw pictures with crayons in the hallway. Ibu Deby, lying on the bed, hooked up to the chemo treatment, says thanks for the visit. Her husband says thanks for the nearby Hospital House, which MAF sponsors for the families of patients to have a place to sleep and cook food and take showers. And Ibu Deby thanks MAF for the flights that will connect them to their other kids back in the village.

And then she smiles.

She smiles. She’s been sick for four years. She’s separated from her kids. She doesn’t know if she’ll get better.

It’s been a rough week for me. I could fill this whole post with complaints—both momentary ones that (hopefully) can be fixed by my husband over the weekend and ones that go deeper, that hurt more. But it would be easy to compare my situation to Ibu Deby’s and be glad that at least I’m not dying.

But that only helps for the moment until the next thing breaks and the next kid’s sickness robs me of sleep and the next fear encroaches.

So instead I try what she did. I say thanks. Thanks for the chance to serve. Thanks for the needs that are met. Thanks for the strength to get through the ones that aren’t.

I let gratitude fill the space between the need and the reality, the longing and the lack, the turmoil and the lasting peace.

So, thanks to Ibu Deby and her smiles and her gratitude and her lesson that renews my soul. And my smile.


Sebuah Warisan Pelayanan

Kilas balik 50 tahun MAF di Kalimantan Utara Pada tahun 1971, pilot MAF Dave Hoisington menerbangkan delegasi konferensi gereja dari Papua, Indonesia, ke pangkalan MAF

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