Before I start though, I want to warn everyone that this is an extremely long update. More like an epistle, sorry, there is just SO much to tell. I'm telling the story from my point of view, so I may be getting details wrong, or skipping medical stuff that happened to Ian. Sorry. Ok, here's the story... and can I just say that we serve an AWESOME God!!! That is the whole point of this story, that God is awesome and worthy of everything.
I'm gunna go way back to January 5th... 13 days before Ian went to the clinic. January 5th, a Monday, I had heard that College of the Ozarks was going to be calling Damarise and I to have a phone interview with us. I was freaked out, and wrote about it in my diary and just thought I'd share what I wrote with you.
"It is so neat to look back on the past eight years of my life... it's... encouraging :) Damarise and I got an email from CofO (College of the Ozarks) to have an interview over the phone with them. A what?! With who?! On what?! I wouldn't be lying when I say I'm exceedingly nervous! And this is where looking over the past eight years comes in. As I pulled out my diary to write tonight, I started flipping through the pages reading about different fears I had and laying them before the God. Within the next few pages God had calmed my fears. I was nervous about Mozambique but God dissipated my fears and filled me with peace. And now, so many things stand unknown, I do know that God is faithful and He has my days planned out. I just need to trust in Him. Oh Lord God, Creator of universe, sovereign and holy King, Ruler and Redeemer of my life, thank you. Thank you that You are the God of the Bible. Thank you that You keep Your promises. That you that You are faithful. Thank you for the countless ways You have provided and guided us. Dear Lord, thank you for the assurance that You will lead us. You know what it is Damarise and I are facing: interviews, college decisions, and finances. Dear Lord, thank you that we can trust in You to work everything out according to Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Amen!"
Little did I know that the struggles that lay ahead were more than a phone interview. The phone interview was Friday and went very well, Thank you Lord! Saturday came and went like any ol' day, and then came Sunday. Our second year Woodbull anniversary! The gift of family is SO great!!! (Thank you God!) Anyways, we had made big plans for our second year celebration, but they sorta got muffed up. Sunday morning around 5am Ian began to hallucinate. (He'd had cerebral malaria for the past 4 days) Mom came in to check on him and he yelled at her to watch out for the mine. (huh?) That's when Mom went to go get Dad. They decided to take Ian to the clinic down the street. The last thing Ian remembers in being brought out to the car by Dad. Sunday was a long day. I woke up around 6:30ish and saw Damarise holding her cellphone in her hand. "Aw, man" I thought, "she wished the Woodrows a happy two year anniversary before me." Well, I picked up her cellphone to see the messages and saw one that Bethy had sent to Damarise that morning. She said that they were praying for Ian and were so sad to hear he had to go down to the clinic. WHAT?! I woke up Damarise and asked her what in the world was going on. That's when she told me everything that was going on with Ian. He was in the clinic with IVs hooked up to him and malaria meds going into him. Uncle Charles (Dr. Woodrow) was at the clinic with Mom and Dad and Ian and was checking Ian out. Damarise, Sarah and I got dressed and ate breakfast and went down to the clinic to see Ian. It was terrible. He was in and out of it and moaning in pain. It was sad to see. We four went back up to the house to have some church time and read Psalm 46. It was so encouraging. The Lord is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble. We prayed for Ian and then text the Woodrow's and asked them if they wanted to come to the clinic to visit Ian. The Woodrow kids came over after church to visit Ian. Ian was sleeping, so they didn't get to say anything to him. It was nice of them to come by though! They left and we four went back up to the house. Mrs. LePoidevin brought some food over for Mom. So sweet of her! Around 3pm Dad came back up to the house to rest until 8pm and then he and Mom would switch places. They never got that far. Around 5pm Dad went back to the clinic and Ms. Tricia called us four a while later. Ian had gone downhill and would have to be medevacced. Excuse me?! He only had malaria, Damarise and I have had cerebral malaria and it never got that bad. What was going on? ... Apparently he had started puking and excreting blood, was in a coma and the Drs. weren't sure if his kidneys were functioning properly. A little while later Zoe and Gracie came by the house. They came in and gave us a hug and told us they were praying. Oh thank you God for the body of Christ. By this time we had sent out an update about Ian and lots of people everywhere were praying for him. ... Around 8:30ish Dad called and said Ian was not doing well and we really needed to pray. He also wanted Damarise to call Grandma and tell her how bad it was. We were all bawling up at the house and crying out to God. We comforted each other the best we could and read some encouraging verses and prayed a lot. The Woodrows text us and said they were praying and sent some encouraging verses. Dad came up to the house a little while later with Ms. Tricia to get the stuff we had packed for Ian and him to go on the flight. Dad then prayed with us. He got a couple words out and then we all started crying. It was so hard to see how it was affecting Dad. If it was hard on Dad we knew Ian must be in bad shape. By then Mr. LePoidevin and some other people were organizing stuff for the Medevac flight. Insurance, times, everything. What a HUGE help! Around 9:30pm we four went down to the clinic to be with Mom, Dad and Ian. Uncle Charles was down there with Ian. And Ms. Tricia and Steven were in the waiting room just being there for Mom and Dad. Whether it be for praying with them, texting us, running errands, or organizing stuff for the medevac flight. They welcomed us into the waiting room and just sat with us. Then the Woodrows text and asked if we wanted them to come by to be with us. Oh yes! SO nice! By 10pm, the Woodrows came by. It was so nice to have other family members to lean on during that time. Thank you God for the gift of family! What a way to appreciate each other on our second year Woodbull anniversary. :P They greeted us with a hug :) So nice! Hugs are comforting! After standing outside the clinic with the Woodrows for a while we went over to the LePoidevins, they had offered that if we wanted to crash close to the clinic (their house is right across from it) we could crash at their house. We walked over to their house and Thomas greeted us with a hug. The LePoidevins let us make ourselves at home and then we all prayed together. It was so nice to be surrounded by a family of believers! We prayed and then Thomas, Kent and some others shared some verses and we all sang songs. We pulled an allnighter that night. Damarise would run back and forth between the clinic and the LePoidevin's house to let us know how Ian was. Every time Damarise would come back with an update we would all pray together for Ian. It was so encouraging to be surrounded by people loving us, comforting us, encouraging us, and praying with us. The body of Christ is an amazing thing! At 4:33am the Medevac plane pulled into Nampula. Mr. LP (LePoidevin) picked the doctors up from the plane and drove them to the clinic. The doctors took a long time to stabilize Ian. We went up to the clinic around 6:30am to see how Ian was. It was terrible. All we could hear was Ian moaning and screaming in pain. It was really hard to sit in the waiting room and listen to him. We all sat there and prayed for Ian and then went back outside. At about 8am the doctors got Ian stabilized and took him to the airport. We filed out of the LP's house and as we walked out we looked up at the clinic and saw Mom, Dad, Uncle Charles (Dr. Woodrow, who stayed there the whole night with Ian), Ms. Tricia (who also spent the night there with them), and then most of the men from the VI (our mission) filed out behind Mom and Dad. It was.... wow... really special. It was so amazing to see the body of Christ coming together in a hard time like that and surrounding Mom and Dad in love, prayer and encouragement. Ms. Tricia drove Mom, Dad, and the rest of us kids to the airport. We got there and walked out onto the tarmac as Ian was being unloaded from the ambulance. Mr. LP was there and Kris Klebs as well. Mr. LP (a missionary pilot) had gone to the airport earlier to make sure the police and other airport personnel were all awake, Kris Klebs went with. Anyways, we all stood around as Ian was being pulled out of the ambulance. He was covered in tubes and wires. It was so hard to look at. Andrew started crying as he saw Ian and the rest of us were ready to start a flood of tears. We kissed Ian goodbye, unsure if we were ever going to see him again, and if we did, if he would be the same Ian as before. We were trusting in the Lord and resting in the peace that only He can offer. Ian got loaded up into the plane and Dad followed behind him, after hugging us goodbye. We stepped back on the tarmac and watched as the plane took off.
That Monday was hard. Ms. Tricia drove us home and prayed with us on the way home. She explained to our workers everything that was going on, and then left us at home. Some of us rested and some of us tried to stay awake. Mom talked to family members and was trying to see if she should go down to South Africa. Ms. Sharon kindly made up a meal schedule for us. Mr. Stefan brought us a meal that night. A little while after we were done with dinner, Dad called. When Mom got off the phone with Dad she called us all together and told us that Ian had jaundice and they weren't sure if he was going to make it. :( A sad face doesn't come close to explaining the pain that was seeping into even the tiniest crevasses in our hearts. Have you ever heard the sound of someone scraping their fingernails down a chalkboard? If you have, then you must know that tingling sensation that climbs up your spine. This was far worse. This climbed up our spine, twisted our stomachs in knots and made our hearts feel like they were a 20 ton weight. But even through those terrible moments there was a peace that was unlike anything else. The peace that God had enveloped us in. His peace. It was greater than the fear and sadness and we were all resting and trusting in God and the peace that He gave. After we prayed together as a family, Mom told us to pack our bags because we would be flying to South Africa as soon as we could. Ms. Tricia came by that night to help us find a flight. Dad called later and said that the jaundice was not a sign of liver failure and Ian would be ok... at least in that sense. Ms. Trica helped us get a flight for Mom set up and early Tuesday morning Mr. Stefan went and picked up Mom's plane ticket Tuesday morning. Mom left Tuesday afternoon for South Africa.
As for us.... the rollercoaster ride of emotions was just going to begin on our end. We packed up most of Tuesday and the Rogers had us over for lunch. So helpful. That night after youth group the Woodrows took us home with them. I cannot thank them enough for opening their house to us :) They were such a comfort to all of us during that time! Every morning we would read an encouraging Psalm and (it was really neat) their hymn of the month that they were learning was, "Have Thine Own Way Lord" Wow! Amen! That was our prayer, that God would have His way in all of this. ...Tuesday night when we got home from Youth Group, Dad text and said something about Ian. We thought it was a good thing, until Uncle Charles said otherwise. We all got together and prayed. Wednesday morning, we got a text saying that Ian had been in a coma for over 36 hours and still had not woken up. The Woodrows and we kids gathered together in their parent's bedroom and began to pray. About half way through everyone praying we all started crying, it was so nice to be together to comfort each other and also to be reminded by everyone there that God is in control! Amen! ...Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Tricia picked us up to go to the house to send out emails, while there she told Damarise that Mom and Dad were pretty sure Ian was not going to wake up from the coma, and if he did he would most likely have major brain damage. Damarise told me when we got home and it was so hard to hear news like that about my little brother. I don't think I have ever prayed so hard for anything in my life. But I was praying hard that God would heal Ian. By 10ish that night Ian had moved his leg! Oh thank you Lord! We were SO excited! And blown away by God's answer to prayer!!! By Thursday morning Ian had woken up and nodded in response to questions! WOW!!! We were in AWE of God!!! God... the creator of the heavens and earth, the ruler of all mankind and the master of everything not only hears the prayers of us but answers them as well. OH How great is the Lord and worthy of glory!! ... Uncle Charles said that he was SO surprised to hear news like that about Ian, because he thought for sure that there was no way he would be coming out of the coma. Wow! What else could it be but a miracle from God! Oh praise Him!!!
By Thursday afternoon Ian had talked!!! And on Sunday we got to call him and talk to him!!!! Mom and Dad said that he said more words to us in the conversation than he had said to them during the whole time he had been awake. They also said he showed emotion when he talked to us, which he hadn't done before. After talking with Ian, Mom and Dad said that they thought we would help Ian improve. They still did not know how Ian's brain was. They told us to pack up everything we would want to bring back to the States, because it was likely that Ian would have to be in rehab in South Africa for months and we would just bring our stuff from Nampula this trip and then head off to the States. We were in shock. Leave Nampula for good... and so soon. We had been planning on being in Nampula for at least three more months. But to all of a sudden leave? That night Kent, Damarise, Bethy, Andrew W., Sarah, Gracie, and I gathered on the Woodrow's veranda and prayed that Ian would heal up and that we could come back to Nampula. We were all in tears by the end of the prayer. We sat there and reminisced about all the fun things we'd done as Woodbulls and said how much we would miss each other. We talked about plans for the future and went to bed that night with saddened hearts. Monday morning, Uncle Charles drove us to our house to pack up and Bethy and Gracie came over to help. It was so sad to go through everything and basically pack up our room (it looks really bare now!) Around 1ish Mom and Dad text and said that Ian was walking, eating, and joking! I cannot even begin to explain the weight that was lifted off of all of our hearts! It was so relieving and we were all praising God! Only He could have done something so extraordinary!!! We then found out that we would be coming back to Nampula after all! :D Thank you God!
Thursday morning we started our journey to South Africa and heard that Ian was out of the hospital... I'll save that for another post though... but I have more to say before I close, sorry.
God taught me SO much during this time. He taught me that He IS the rock and fortress and shelter in times of distress. He is an ever present help in trouble. He also showed me that we are pathetic. We are so weak and useless on our own. It's God that gives us good health and keeps us alive. We are nothing without Him! Going through this also strengthened my faith in God. It reassured me that God is a God who keeps His promises! Like, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Throughout the whole ordeal with Ian there was always a peace amidst the pain. God kept showing me and all of us that He was in control in so many ways and it was amazing to see and be a part of. It was also really neat to see the body of Christ at work. We were surrounded by SO many people all over the world praying for Ian and us. I have never seen anything like it! I was getting emails from people I didn't even know saying that they had heard of Ian and were starting the prayer wave. They were in places I've never even been to! Wow! Then here in Nampula the missionary community just covered us in love and prayers. People brought meals by for us, let us live with them for weeks, prayed with us, called us, hugged us, and sent out emails to all of their supporters asking for prayer for Ian. WOW!!! And PRAISE BE TO GOD and HIM ALONE! He heard our cries, even though we are so tiny and so unworthy of anything and He worked it out to His glory and healed Ian. And I am SO in awe of God and SO thankful for everything He has done! THANK YOU GOD!!!!!