Thursday, March 17, 2016
It was the end of Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene's mission trip, and the team was in the city of Quito. During the evening group devotions, Dr. Lisa’s thoughts were thousands of miles away, back in Kansas City, U.S. She was thinking of her daughter and how she would like to be at her volleyball game tomorrow to cheer her on. Being home for her daughter’s big game seemed more important to her than the sightseeing the group was planning to do the following day. Dr. Lisa (photo left) had tried to arrange her return flight so she could make it, but it hadn't worked out.
Her thoughts were also mingled with the many faces of kids and adults the team had treated during the past week. She remembered their cheeks, chapped from the cold mountain air; their overall poor health due to the subsistence living conditions; and she remembered all the stories that went along with the smiling faces of the children for whom they had given physicals for their school.
Dr. Lisa’s thoughts were interrupted when Cole Williams banged on the door of the Work & Witness Center yelling, “Where is Jon Fischer? My daughter is having a seizure and we need a ride to the hospital!”
Cole and Kelly Williams were missionaries with an organization called Extreme Nazarene. They lived on the same grounds as the Work & Witness Center in Ecuador at the time and they have two children, Ted and Reese, who was then 3 years old. Cole was holding tightly to his daughter, whose body was unresponsive but wrenched by a glitch-like continual jerk.
“Jon is here and we have a doctor with us,” a team member replied.
Dr. Lisa stepped forward to evaluate the situation. Although the team had brought several boxes of medicine from the U.S., she knew that none of it was designed to treat seizures. She also knew that “time was of the essence” and there would be no pharmacies close enough to get what she needed, quickly.
But, as she was assessing the problem, God reminded her of one of the team members who was also her patient back in the U.S. She remembered a prescription she had written for that team member before the trip had similar properties to other medicines that are used to treat seizures. She asked that team member to retrieve the pills she had prescribed her.
Within a minute, Dr. Lisa took one of those pills, broke it in half to account for the small size of the little girl, and held it in the side of the girl’s mouth while it dissolved. She hoped the pill would quickly stop the seizure and prevent any long-term damage that can be caused by an extended seizure, then watched as the parents loaded their girl into the truck for the 30-minute drive across Quito to the medical clinic.
Kelly Williams remembers the drive and the silence and tears, praying that God would be glorified in her little girl's life. Over and over, praying that they would have the courage needed to walk whatever path was opening up before them, Kelly repeated in prayer, "Please use this little girl's life for your glory, God, please use her for your glory."
After they left, Dr. Lisa became very emotional and shaken as she suddenly realized why none of the flights worked out for her to return home early to see her daughter’s game. God had obviously needed to use her for one more day in Ecuador to save the life of a little girl. Without such quick action, the little girl could have experienced permanent damage from the seizure.
Reese was in the hospital for several days under observation. Doctors had no answers as to why she that day she experienced a “grand mal” seizure – characterized by lasting more than 30 minutes without interruption. Reese had no prior history with seizures.
“We should have been in Ibarra, Ecuador by that time,” recalls Kelly Williams. “But housing problems continuously prevented us from [being] ... there. If Reese had had the seizure in Ibarra, we would have had almost no chance of getting to a hospital in a decent amount of time, since taxis don't run as late in the smaller town, and if there were some out, they would be scarce. In addition, there was not a pediatric neurologist there at all that would have been able to treat her. The only thing for us to say about any of it is that God is sovereign in all things. I am so thankful He holds us always.”
Cole and Kelly and their family (photo right) now live in California, near medical attention for their daughter. Reese has not had any additional seizures over the last couple of years and is no longer taking daily medicine. She is a bright and energetic 6-year-old.
Swiftly treating Reese for her sudden seizure was just one of the ways that God worked through the Nall Avenue team during their Christmas break trip to Ecuador three years ago. They conducted medical physicals for 200 children in the new Compassion International program high in the mountains of Chillanes, Ecuador. They also saw many other patients and prayed with those who needed the touch of God.
One couple the team met accepted Christ after the wife had tried to commit suicide. The team also did construction and evangelized to children. District Superintendent Mario Paredes and his family joined the team and helped the team to understand how they were a light to this community of darkness that faces so many hard things, such as mental illness, fear, death of children, and problems of families living together.
Today, the seeds that the Williams and their team planted in that village have matured into a healthy, organized Nazarene church called Iglesia La Puerta Abierta (The Ibarra Open Door Church). The congregation, which numbers about 80 people on a typical Sunday, with more than 100 members, holds two services every Sunday and have purchased land, with plans to start building in an ideal area by the municipal park. The Work & Witness team was an instrumental part of starting this church plant.