Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Update on The Little Girl in the Legaspi Hospital

Update on The Little Filipino Girl in the Hospital
By Dr. Dave Johnson
Assemblies of God Missionary to the Philippines

Dear Friends,

The little girl’s mother told Debbie that she prayed that God would either heal her completely or take her home to heaven. God answered her prayers—both of them. Yesterday morning, about 11:30am local time, Jesus came and took the child to heaven. She is now in perfect health and, her parents, quite understandably, are devastated. Words were useless at this point. Just being there was what mattered. Please pray for the family at this time, especially as they try to explain this to their seven year son who was not able to come to the hospital.

When she got the call, Debbie and a friend rushed to the hospital. Alan, one of my team members and I met them there a bit later. They lived more than an hour away and wanted to make funeral arrangements with a funeral home in their town. When you don’t have life insurance to pay the bills, calling the mortuary to pick up the body is out of the question. The hospital kindly wrapped her in a blanket from head to toe and, with their permission and gracious help, we loaded little her little body, with rigor mortis already setting in, into the truck so lovingly provided by the Assemblies of God young people in Michigan through the Speed-the-Light program, and carried her to the funeral home ourselves. Her parents held her the whole time. While Americans are squeamish about these kinds of things and may even think it macabre, Filipinos have no such qualms and took it all in stride—they were just grateful for our help. I think this is the first time I ever handled a dead body, and I won’t mind if it’s my last. Debbie voluntarily remained in Legaspi due to lack of space in the truck.

For those not familiar with Filipino burial rites, the body will lay in state in the family’s home for several days, with nightly wake services. Many will call on the family to pay their respects. Filipinos are a social people so they will also just visit and swap stories. However, there are some challenges. Since the family traditionally provides dinner for all guests every night, the costs can be horrific, although many friends and family will bring food or cash gifts. In Christian circles, having a short nightly service is also common and provides an excellent opportunity for evangelism.

Because of the distance we will not likely participate much in the wake services, but the girl’s parents and brother will be surrounded by family, friends, and church members—many of whom could not help when they were in Legaspi, so they will be well taken care of. We do not know the date for the funeral, but at least Debbie will be present for that.

While this entire situation obviously did not turn out as we had hoped and prayed, there are some things for which Debbie and I are grateful. One, we have the hope of heaven. Thank God, for the Christian, death does not have the last word. While this precious child’s death is surely the cause of great sorrow, death has no sting or victory because we have the assurance that we shall see her again (1 Corinthians 15:57-58). Second, we are thankful that she lingered long enough for her family and friends to say goodbye. Third, we thank God that the time in the hospital was not protracted for weeks or months. As terrible as this has been, it could certainly have been worse. Fourth, Debbie and I are deeply honored that we could be there when they needed us, and we are so grateful for our friends and supporters in the States who made that possible. And last but certainly not least, we are so thankful for all of your prayers, emails, and Facebook posts letting us know that you are there for us and the family.

We love you all,

Dave and Debbie

PS. In a previous email I implied that the hospital did not provide food. Then I found out that they do feed the patients, just not the caregivers. My apologies for the misinformation. For the most part, the hospital staff provided excellent services considering the limitations under which they have to work and for which they are not responsible.

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Copyright 2012 Dr. Dave Johnson 

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