My husband Ken and I recently returned from what was supposed to be four weeks in Kathmandu, Nepal working with the Moravian churches and the preschool and grade schools. Ken was also going to be working with friends that have a cafe there; helping them with menu ideas, restaurant ideas and sharing a few new recipes with them.
Well, that’s not what happened. Ken started with kidney stones, moved to a stomach ailment, some heat exhaustion and then ended all this with a heart attack requiring a stent. We had some good days in the two and a half weeks we were there. We welcomed children to the new school year, we went swimming, me with the five-year-olds and he with grades 1 & 2. He even spent a couple days at the cafe. I enjoyed giving the message three times in a total of five church services (that was two Saturdays) I attended (Ken missed the last one – heat exhaustion from the first service that day) and helping serve communion for one service. I got the billing ready for the first day of school so parents could pay and staff could then also get paid along with all the other costs of the beginning of a new school year.
Those were some really good days until the Monday he had the heart attack. We’d been there two weeks and were supposed to go to the main pastors home for supper and fellowship. That never happened.
We often think that when we are about God’s business everything should go well, but that’s not the truth. Jesus often said in his teachings not to expect things to go well (Luke 9:23, Matthew 8:20). Even Paul said that he knew plenty and knew want and had learned to be content whatever his circumstances (Philippians 4:12).
I saw God’s providence in many places during our time there. Things slightly out of the norm that helped. One such incident was that Monday. I wasn’t feeling well but was determined that I was going to the dinner. The queasiness in my stomach grew through the afternoon and I decided that I could not go. My friends called a taxi and worked out a deal with him. Ken had a sample for the hospital and so the taxi would take me home, wait, drive me to the hospital, wait and then return me home for 650 rupees. Ken wasn’t waiting to give me the sample so I went in hoping it didn’t mean he was feeling worse. I found him in quite the state but was able to get him up and down the lane to the waiting taxi. If the deal hadn’t been made I would have had great trouble finding a taxi in our area and not sure of the results if I had. My friends, and other friends they called, were racing to our location in case there was need of help. The taxi driver was great. Helped Ken into the back, got directions of which hospital to go to, put on his four way flashers and got us there in record time, including circumventing a long line of traffic that was going in our direction. I expected him to charge a lot but he only charged 500 rupees (that’s about $5 US). God’s hand was in that whole trip.
Yes, Ken still had a heart attack, but he got the care he needed before any harm was done to his heart and there was the right doctor in the right place to put the stent in (more of God’s providence).
There is a part of me that felt let down that our mission trip and time with our friends didn’t go as planned. Surely God could have kept him healthy until we returned to the US. That’s where our faith can get in trouble. We want God to make everything turn out the way we want and yet we still want to have free will. God works with us and through us but doesn’t manipulate the circumstances to make us happy. Most Christians will say that they grew the most or felt the closest to God during or following those times when everything fell apart.
Yes I was let down, but I am so thankful for the time with my friends, I am thankful for their love and prayers. I am thankful that we were able to help some and they were able to help a lot. People were ready to find some money to help with hospital costs (they won’t release you until your debt is paid – which means if you don’t get them out quick the bill keeps going up) and no one has a lot extra over there. The love was amazing and the parting so difficult. But I will continue to say that God is good and no matter where life leads I know that God can use us anywhere in anyway.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God has closed one door for us but others remain open. We are here and we have hope for ministry and life at Redeemer. I believe God has affirmed us moving forward with a cafe that will bring community together and raise funds for us to help train and send people out into the world to help where needed.
Keep praying, God has just begun a new work.