“Are you sure you can’t get it out?”
I looked into my husband’s eye for the tenth time and winced. “Mark, I can see it, but I can’t go poking in your eye.” I shivered at the thought. I could not believe I once wanted to be a nurse.
Mark went into the bathroom to douse it one more time with water. I shook my head in frustration. He had been working that afternoon with a grinder. His glasses, which were already speckled from all the grinding and welding he had been doing, had been sliding down his nose as the sweat trickled down his face. He took them off to wipe his face and kept working. Just moments later, it happened. A red-hot splinter of metal flew from the grinder and imbedded itself into his eye, searing its way into the soft tissue. Now, hours later, his eye felt like it was burning out of his head.
“Honey, you’ve got to try. I really don’t want to do to the doctor. Wet a cloth and see if you can’t wipe it out.” This was not a typical male ‘never want to go to a doctor’ response. We lived in a tiny village 40 kilometers from the closest town in Africa. The thought of ever having to go to the hospital terrified us. We had heard so many horror stories. We had to try to figure this out on our own.
Finding a clean handkerchief, I slowly wet it with cool water and tried to build up my courage. As the tip of the cloth touched his eye, Mark sucked air in through his mouth. I almost quit right then. “It’s ok. Keep going,” he said. I tried one more time. This time he almost yelled in pain.
“I can’t do this! I’m sorry.”
After enduring another full day of complete agony, we finally piled into our truck and headed into town. Our first stop was Stephanie’s house. She was a missionary with a nursing background. “Ouch. That looks painful,” she said. “Donna, if you want me to give it a try, you’ll have to go to the pharmacy and try to find some anesthetic. I cannot do anything without that.” Mark lay down on the couch while I wandered around our little town trying to find an eye anesthetic. My nerves stretched to their limit. No one had what I needed. Short bursts of prayer flew heavenward as I drove. However, my efforts were in vain.
“We’re going to have to take him in to the hospital,” Stephanie said. “We have run out of options. Let’s pray together first.” We stood together clasping hands and turning our hope to God. “Lord, we pray that You will provide someone who knows what they are doing. We pray that they will have the supplies that are necessary, and that You will guide their hands. Most of all, Lord, we pray for Your peace to guard our hearts as we trust in You.”
A few minutes later, we were sitting in the hallway of the hospital surrounded by patients who had been waiting for a long time for their chance to see the doctor. As I sat beside Stephanie and waited, my nerves finally broke. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I was so afraid. What if they did something wrong and Mark lost his eyesight? Stephanie put her arms around my shoulder and prayed quietly under her breath.
The door opened and they ushered us in. Whether we received precedence because of the urgency of the situation or just because we were white, I really did not care at that moment. There was no doctor available. A technician laid Mark down on the examining table. I could not stand to watch. I found a chair on the other side of the room and, with tears flooding my face, prayed that God would guide the hands of the man poking the needle into my husband’s eyeball. Stephanie stood guard, ensuring that everything was sterile and done properly. It seemed to take forever. Finally, it was all over.
“Can you see all right, honey?” I asked.
“Everything’s great,” he said.
Relief overwhelmed me as I shook the hand of the technician with a new respect and a heart so full of gratitude to him and my Lord.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear … (Ps. 46:1 - NIV)
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