This is not one of those inspiring stories from the front lines of missions. I figured it would be good for me to let you know that right off the bat. This story is more like an everyday story, for an everyday church, worshiping and everyday kind of Jesus. But I feel the story is one worth telling all the same.
I recently found myself, with my dad and our friend Simon, in the middle-of-no-where Papua New Guinea. I had felt called there for several years and now we had finally arrived. We had almost exactly 2 weeks to spend in our target village called Hagini. God had worked miracles and I was excited for what he may have in store next. Week one went well, and we found ourselves healthy and fed—bot spiritually and physically. God was doing a lot!
But then, as with many other mission trips I have been on, it hit—the sickness. If you have ever traveled overseas you might know what I’m talking about. It’s the one where you have lime green coming out both ends and it wont stop. It will make you wish you never left home and the comfort of the porcelain throne. It is awful. But God is good in the midst of it all.
That evening I had felt particularly tired so I decided not to go to church. Instead I was going to rest. As I laid on my mat, I began to feel it coming, but I was trying to avoid it; so, I tried to fall asleep in hopes that I would leave as quickly as it had come. It didn’t leave. At the last moment I leaped from my bead and tried to get out of my mosquito net. I was dizzy and disoriented. It was a miracle that I found the window in time… thankfully I did. Apparently I made quite a ruckus though because when I was about half way done, I noticed 3 locals were standing outside the window, watching me vomit. In an effort to console me they began to say, lovingly, “oooohhhhh Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry…” It was nice of them, they were speaking some of the few english words they knew. One of them went to tell my Dad and Simon in the church that I had gotten sick, Dad and Simon decided to stay and finish preaching. When the heaving ended, I cleaned up and laid down. This time I decided to not use my mosquito net… and it was a good thing too, because within 20 minutes I was running out the front door of the hut vomiting again. And again my local friends came to support me through the ordeal. “oooohhhhh Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry…” Thats when Dad and Simon got back. I figured that it would be a long night so I decided to lay on the “porch” of our hut instead of going back inside. Dad and Simon sat with me.
I vomited every 30 -40 minutes for the next several hours. The Diarrhea hit somewhere in there too, so I found myself going to the outhouse about once ever hour or so. In the middle of the “events” I would do my best to fall asleep on the porch. Dad and Simon stayed up praying for me. And every time I woke up one of my local friends would be there to offer their condolence.
At about 1 am group of men from the church came and laid their hands on me for healing. I didn’t get better, right away. I got sick several times after that. My last dry-heave was at about 3:30 a.m. I knew it was over so I told Simon and Dad to go to sleep in the hut. And even at that last heave at 3:30 a.m. I had one of my local friends standing there saying, “oooohhhhh Nathan, Nathan, Nathan, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry…”
I told you it wasn’t an inspiring story. But it is worth telling. I cannot tell you the love I felt that night from my fellow believers, some of whom stayed up into the wee hours of the morning, just to tell me they were sorry I was feeling sick—people I had just met. John 13:35 says that non-believers will know that we are the disciples of Jesus because of the love that we show for one another. I know that those Hagini-ins are disciples of Jesus. They loved me when it was disgusting. They stayed awake. They prayed! Their love was exceeding.