Image after image flashes through my mind. I see little but “growing bigger and stronger” two and half year old Azarya coming towards me on the gravel runway. Wanting to give me a high five and nothing warms my heart more. Knowing that this is the little boy who drank his way back to life with goats milk. More images of all over campus this little boy waving at me and smiling shyly, running and playing like normal children should. Every time I saw him, I rejoiced in the second chance that Jesus had given him. More images of being with his Mommy and Daddy and their JOY and gratefulness in Ayarya’s strength and change as he transformed before their eyes from being severely malnourished to vibrant. Ida, his Mommy, is my closest Papua friend, and I see so many images of her and I chatting and laughing together and enjoying her new fat little baby boy, now two months old. Despite that Ida was still morning the unexpected loss of her father and still mourning the loss of her first child, Stevi, seven years ago, her eyes were filled with courage.
More images come. Torturing my mind all night long. Images of Ida coming to my house last Thursday, Friday and Saturday with Azarya. He had measles and was now struggling with a mouth full of sores and not wanting to eat or drink. He had a secondary infection in his lungs, from the measles, equaling a bad cough. I borrowed a nebulizer machine from the clinic and we gave him breathing treatments. More goats milk was purchased. He sat on my couch, on his Mommies lap, and breathed in medicines to give him relief. He asked for bread, not rice, and Ida asked if I had any. More images of trampling through the dark, with Ida, to her house, dodging puddles and slipping through mud as we carry hot bread and milk and more to her house. Azarya’s weight was plummeting before my eyes. I see Ida giggling on my couch as we talk about the delight her whole family had in the thought of buying a milking goat for Azarya. Hundreds of images in, I most clearly see Ida walking out of my gate with Azarya in her arms on Saturday morning and him waving a feeble sick goodbye. He had done well in the night and I completely anticipated his rebound.
That afternoon, Ida texts to say they took Azarya to the hospital because he refused to eat or drink. I was somewhat relieved, knowing that he would be getting IV fluid…..and somewhat alarmed. The beginning of the week is filled with images of Ayarya, in his hospital room, mostly laying propped up on a pillow. As the week went on, images of oxygen, concerned looking parents, increased respirations and heart rate, increased tension play on the photos of my mind. The IV antibiotics were changed three times. I pick up the x-rays and look at the images through the hospital window and to my untrained radiology eyes, I see the lower bases filled with fluid. They want to move him to ICU, but all the beds are full. And so are they at the hospital 45 minutes away. Maybe at the hospital an hour and half away there is room, but it seems so difficult with the newborn and……. so they stay. There are no ventilators. If he could just have rest for a few days while the medicine works. If……
Thursday morning, I literally had my purse in my hand to make my way to the hospital when the next photo comes into my mind. A text from Wendy. Asking if I can double check about ventilators in our area Within seconds of me reading this text, another one pops in to say they have begun CPR. I scream inside. I wait for Darron to come pick me up, as our car was in the shop. Praying. “Lord, you are the giver of breath, please.” Finally we arrive at the hospital and now the photos are filled with sounds. Sounds I don’t want to hear. Sounds that hurt so bad. I see into the hospital room and Erasmus, the Daddy, is kneeling, giving the final attempt at CPR and I hear Ida scream as it is over. It is finished. Her little boy is dead. Erasmus slumps against the wall. Gary is by his side. Ida scoops up her lifeless boy and screams out her anguish. It is absolutely one of the most painful scenes I have ever witnessed. My eye catches Wendy’s over and over again and we both have a million questions and emotions. And I’m angry at the lack in the system and that some people are stuck in the system and there is no other choice or option.
The next twenty-four hours are filled with images of the rawness of death and anguished hearts. Of the staff removing all the equipment out of the room. Of them tying Azarya little feet together with gauze, and interweaving his little fingers together as if he were about to pray and tying his little wrists together. I see Ida in our car, I hear her asking Darron the most heart breaking question, “Ada Yesus?” (Is there a Jesus?) Later that afternoon, I sit, before the open casket. Erasmus is petting Azarya’s hair over and over again and just beginnings to sob. The kindest humblest man I have ever met…..is broken….I weep with him. There are so many more images of weeping with Ida and just holding her. More screams that pierce as the little coffin is moved to go to the graveyard. We step on stones through a river to get to the graveyard.
I have a million questions that play through my mind along with the photos. One of them is, “Jesus where are You in all of this?” I saw Him, there at the graveyard. I saw Him as my husband held sobbing Erasmus. Rain was funneling off a little tin roof onto my husband’s back as he held this daddy. I saw Jesus, through one of his servants, who cupped the rain in his hands to try keep it off of my dear husbands back. The strong brown hands doing their little part to ease the pain. I saw Jesus through the actions of our former mission president, Pastor John, as he dug scoops of dirt on top of that little coffin and I was taken back at the contrast in his personal life and the humbleness in which he served.
Darron and I found the grave, where their first born son was buried seven years ago.
And now we are faced with walking through a long valley with our dear friends. Of breathing hope and life and courage to anguished hearts. Of reminding ourselves and this sweet family, that has lost so much, that yes…….there is a Jesus. Please pray.