(Post written Sunday 12.18.2016)
What a week it has been. This time last Sunday I was leading the monthly volunteer meeting for our FLORECE ladies when Catalina handed me her phone which had been silently ringing. (It turns out my phone had been also, with multiple missed calls.) My husband was trying to reach us with the news that Solange - our friend and FLORECE volunteer who had stayed home that night to finish her thesis due Tuesday - was on her way to the ER with stroke-like symptoms. Kim and Jacqueline immediately left the meeting to meet Solange and her husband at the hospital while the rest of us began to pray. I reached the hospital after the meeting ended to change places with the other ladies and remained until we learned that the MRI had come back clear and Solange was being sent home with a diagnosis of acute glaucoma.
The next morning, I accompanied Solange to an 11 a.m. appointment (or so we thought) with the ophthalmologist. She was in a great deal of pain when we arrived and she provided her information to the secretary. Unfortunately we were informed that patients were seen on a first come, first served basis. To make a long story short, her pain increased as we waited and when the doctor measured her eye pressure it was at a whopping 52 (normal being 12-21.) He applied multiple medications via eyedrops and sent her back to the waiting room, where her symptoms went from bad to worse and she became sick and faint. A second check up with the doctor ended with orders for hospitalization to get her symptoms under control and we left around 1:15 p.m.
In God's providence, my daughter Eva was dropped off to me from her algebra class just as we headed to the clinica where her help was indispensable since there was absolutely no parking area to deliver a patient who could barely stand on her own feet. She escorted Solange to check in and by the time I returned they were joined by Solange's husband, Romo. At 3:30 p.m. a room was made available and we eventually kept quiet company in the room while Romo ran numerous necessary errands - dropping off the doctor's excuse to Solange's workplace, purchasing medications, etc. - and Solange drifted in and out of awareness while enduring intense pain.
It was a privilege to provide a measure of support to our friends, and I was proud of my daughter for her patience during silent hours of waiting (neither of us having had lunch and finally arriving home around 6 p.m.) Once home, we welcomed Romo and Solange's son and daughter for food and games until their dad was able to pick them up around 11 p.m. and they could all get some rest.
And so the week continued! Tuesday morning started early with a 7:30 drop off to school for Owen, and a busy FLORECE shift with volunteer training and counseling sessions and home for lunch followed by accompanying my friend for a few more hours at the clinica in the afternoon, then having the kids again for pizza and company until their dad could make it home.
Several more FLORECE shifts over the next few days, more doctor's visits and medical errands with Solange, end-of-the-year school and church activities, regularly scheduled prayer and teen meetings, and surprise visitors to church today culminated our week with eight guests in our home for lunch. With some ingenuity, a spare patio table, two tv trays and a stool as a table top, the sixteen of us enjoyed Chinese food and very loud, live musical entertainment from the pascuero truck that stopped just outside our house right as we sat down to eat. When the adult guests had gone, they were replaced with two neighbor children joining Ian and Alec for animated play and mad dashes towards the street whenever the next truck came by. Another unexpected visitor came in the form of a newly arrived and hungry Colombian man asking for food or money. Pedro prepared a sandwich and spoke with him at length, sending him in the direction of the barbershop where our boys cut their hair and the owner represents and assists the immigrant community in Iquique.
It was not a week for the weak ... and yet it was. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul wrote these words given to him by the Lord in the face of his own weakness: "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." This week, we experienced that sufficient grace and even had the privilege of being an extension of it while ministering to a friend in her physical weakness. I received that grace in the counseling room of FLORECE while feeling overwhelmed and inadequate by my own human weakness. When we are weak, God is strong and glorified. Thanks be to God for His faithfulness! "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7)