One afternoon after returning from a funeral, Herb Gappa
and I stopped at the Government Hospital in Bariadi, Tanzania to visit a sick
little girl that we had heard "was not doing well". I was dismayed to find this
young girl, about seven years old, painfully struggling to take each breath.
Something from the depths of my heart raged within me: DO SOMETHING! Yet what
possibly could be done?
Herb Gappa then turned to the family and me and asked if
we could all pray together for this child. So we all prayed together. Again for
some reason within me, my heart struggled to DO SOMETHING! I struggled to
formulate some small prayer in my newly learned Swahili as others prayed a few
individual prayers. I unknowingly began repeating over and over to myself, "Mungu,
saidie yeye" (in poor Swahili "God help her"). I continually repeated it,
although not out loud. I don’t know exactly why I was afraid to pray out loud
with my broken Swahili, but it was almost a fear that someone might hear my
prayer and the struggle in my heart.
Herb closed our prayer with a blessing of the child and
asked us to end with a song. So we sang. Literally as we came to the last verse,
this wonderful child of God took her last breath. I stood there in complete
shock and sorrow. DO SOMETHING! Yet there was nothing to do, but to feel the
pain and sorrow. After trying to console the family and discussing some sort of
burial arrangements, we decided it was time to head home. As we left the
hospital an old man walked out with us a short distance. He turned to Gappa and
said, "Isn’t it amazing how God listens to our prayers!"
In humility and shame, only then did I realize that
sensation of WOW! God was truly there with us… listening. Call it scary,
overwhelming, awe-filled, or whatever. Somehow God’s loving Spirit moves through
this entire experience we call mission… listening.