On April 14, 2016, I starting reading/studying my way through Joshua. The words "Be strong and of good courage" struck me full force. I read how God Himself spoke those words to Joshua, and then at the end of the chapter the people themselves were telling Joshua to "be strong and of good courage." Wow! "Was Joshua that fearful? Did the great 'Captain Joshua' (spoken in great announcer super hero tones....) really need that much encouragement?" I wondered....then I did what I always do...I started trying to figure out WHY the Lord was showing me those words SO emphatically. I even received a message from a dear sister friend with those same words! Hmm....but God was silent. Every day, I kept waiting and wondering, "Why those words? What is it that I am going to need to "be strong and of good courage" about in my life? Some great tragedy? Some dire emergency? (My mind often runs to the extreme!) Still God was silent....until yesterday.
Sunday afternoon a couple of our Deaf men came by the house. Nestor had come to ask if Matt would go visit his girlfriend, Mary Luz. She has been sick, and she was asking for Pastor to come visit. While Matt was there, he called and asked if I would be willing to interpret for Mary Luz for her doctor's appointment the next day...he said it was serious. I agreed.
We got to the hospital before they did, and while we were waiting for them, two ladies came bursting through the front door! The younger woman fell sobbing uncontrollably to the ground in front of some seats by the door. Those with her tried to comfort her, but they too were crying. People walked by and stared. One lady even came and asked me what had happened. I had no answer. Matt went over and talked to the older lady, gave them a tract, and found out that a family member had just passed away. What do you do? What do you say? How can you help? You can't. You feel helpless. As we got up to meet Nestor and Mary Luz, I went over and gave this woman - a perfect stranger - a hug and told her I am praying for her and her family. What do you do - when your life touches another - even for just a moment in time?
Mary Luz's appointment was at 1 pm. Her sister turned in Mary Luz's paperwork and we waited....and waited....and waited. Matt called about 3pm to see if we were done, to see how things were going...we hadn't even seen the doctor yet. By 5pm I started wondering if we would see the doctor or have to come back the next day. I felt SO impatient, but poor Mary Luz - having to sit there all afternoon in such pain, wondering, waiting for answers.
Finally it was our turn. We went in and I stepped from my role as friend and Pastor's wife to Interpreter. I prayed hard for wisdom, and I know others were praying as well. The doctor was curious about who I was and why I, an American, was here in Iquitos....so I explained. He graciously complemented my Spanish. Then we got to the business at hand....
He asked if Mary Luz fully understood the gravity of the situation. She didn't. Not really. How do you look someone in the eyes and tell them "You have cancer - a malignant tumor - and without an operation, you will die." How do you explain that "you have until Christmas to live." As interpreter you are blunt - direct - to the point. As friend and Pastor's wife, the tears spring into your eyes and you choke on a sob.
That's when God shows you why you should "be strong and of good courage." That's when you realize it isn't just for your own sake, but for the sake of others - whose lives you touch - that you must "be strong and of good courage." While we were waiting to see the doctor, the Lord opened the door for me to share the Gospel with her and Nestor once again.
Please pray for them both. They have so much that they are facing right now - things I can't even explain, but God knows. God knows and loves Mary Luz and Nestor so much. As I explained to them yesterday, He is waiting, longing for them to be able to enter His house (Heaven), and live with Him forever, but they must have permission - they must ask Jesus to save them. He died to save them, not only so they can live in Heaven one day, but that while God gives them life here on earth, they too, can "be strong and of good courage."