What THANK YOU really looks like

My Heart in Africa

Ephesians 5:20 says, 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Until today, I always struggled with this concept, merely in remembering to give thanks for the small things. Thank God for my job, or a place to call home or a meal to eat. Thank Him for simple pleasures and for small surprises. Thank Him for the things we tend to overlook and forget or take for granted.
Slow down enough, and give Him thanks, for everything.

But today, I learned an AMAZING lesson in giving thanks.
So HUGE indeed that I must share it with you!

My friend Florence, the one who lost her sister in a car accident in January, and also dislocated one of her vertebra  in that same accident was released from the hospital after a month ago after spending only three weeks in traction.
My boss, Kathy, encouraged me to have her x rays looked at by one of the orthopedic surgeons from Blantyre (another Malawian city, five hours south of Lilongwe) because she thought three weeks was a premature release.

It took a couple of weeks for me to obtain the x rays and meet with the doctor, as his visits to Lilongwe are on a rotation of once every five weeks. When he did see the xrays, he was immediately concerned that she was no longer in traction and that she wanted to travel back to Zimbabwe soon, which is her home country where most of her family reside as well as her sister, Everjoy’s children have now been moved there.

This doctor (John) referred us to another surgeon in Blantyre, who casually responded to our request by suggesting we visit him one Tuesday as this was his day to see patients (and not schedule surgery). However, he mentioned he might refer her for an MRI and that it is a costly expense. He warned us to be prepared financially.

So, given that information, I decided that I would rather pay for Florence to have recent and better quality x rays from a private clinic than to risk taking her poor originals and needing an MRI.

We went to the clinic this morning, and had an “appointment” of sorts. We still ended up waiting an hour to see the
 x ray technician. When he first looked at the x rays that were coming out, he was hugely alarmed. He pointed out immediately that there was a fracture and a bone piece had been dislodged.

Confused, I went to the car to get the old x rays. There had been no sign of a fracture on those ones. Just a dislocation from what the doctors at the hospital had first told Florence.

So, in comparing the x rays, I discovered a MAJOR blunder. The original x rays were a terrible quality x ray. We knew that from the start. But what we didn’t realize is that because of the poor quality of the picture, the fracture was completely unnoticeable. Imagine! For eight weeks now, Florence has been living with a fractured vertebra because her original
x rays were too poor of quality to even see that part of her neck. It was all just a blur of bone and mass in the picture.

While I was examining the old x rays another doctor walked by (probably wondering why I was playing with the x ray light and photos) and so I had to explain myself. He took one look at the pictures and was alarmed.
“Why is she walking? How is she moving? Does she have a neck collar? She should not be moving at all!”

Alarmed at what was being discovered, the other doctors all congregated around the pictures, throwing out their ideas of emergency, ambulance, surgery! Poor Florence, sat there listening, not being allowed to look at the pictures because standing would require her to make movements that she was suddenly no longer permitted to make.

I felt terrible for her. I had brought her here to get new x rays, praying that the pictures would show she was healing fantastic, and instead, she is told that because of the negligence and primitive machinery of the original government hospital, she is in serious condition with a fracture and a poorly healing dislocation.

There wasn’t much I could think of to reassure her. I asked the doctors who were all chatting amongst themselves to at least explain the situation to us, but immediately they all suggested they weren’t the specialist and resisted giving us an sort of diagnosis. Fair enough, but the fact that they were all sharing their panicked suggestions with each other in front of us (Florence especially) was hugely discomforting.

When they finally all left to go work out what was to be done next, I turned to Florence and in a timid manner asked her how she was feeling. If I were in her shoes, I would have been angry and scared. I would have been so mad at the original hospital for their failure to diagnose correctly and the obvious mistake of discharging me without even taking new x rays. I would have been scared at the prospect of having emergency surgery and being bed ridden for a few more months in a foreign country. I was trying to prep myself for a similar response from Florence and mentally placing myself in to the best supporting role.

Instead, both Florence’s response, and her sisters (who had accompanied us), immediately were:” This is such a testimony for God. Let us give Him thanks. If we had not come with you today, we would not know this news. We would have been blind to what was really happening and Florence would have been in serious risk.”

As I picked my jaw up off the ground, I processed what I had just heard. Both, unquestionably accepted the situation of potential surgery and the severity of her fracture by thanking God that it had been discovered.  IMAGINE THAT!

IMAGINE not being angry at the injustice and negligence of professional doctors!

IMAGINE not wanting vengeance or justice or even considering suing the hospital!

IMAGINE praising God that you’ve discovered your neck has been broken for eight weeks without you knowing!

IMAGINE THANKING HIM for revealing this truth to you!

I was shocked.

AND HUMBLED of course.

All my inclinations went right out the door and I too just accepted their patience and praise and thanked God for showing us that her situation is much more serious than we originally thought.
How could I get mad and angry when she was not reacting in such a way? Who was I to suggest that she allow all these negative feelings to overwhelm her and take over her calmness and peace?

And as we sat there for another two hours, waiting to hear back from the doctor in Blantyre (John) about the immediate course of action, all I could do was apologize for the length of time it was taking and the fact that she had been restricted to her chair and was not permitted by anyone to get up and move around. I felt so bad that all we could do was just wait, and again, their patience and their calm came over me as well and seeing as I could do nothing to speed up the response of the doctor, I too reconciled myself to wait.

And, while I was waiting, I decided to give thanks to God!

May each of you choose to do the same today!



Dr. John finally returned the email with instructions. He is sending the xrays to the specialist he had first contacted regarding Florence’s case and we will wait for his first appointment to go see him. I will be taking her as soon as we can make that happen – provided he approves her to ride in a car for five hours on pot holed roads.
The alternative, she will be put on a back board and transported by ambulance to Blantyre, or she will have surgery here at a private clinic that works in conjunction with Dr. John.
Perhaps we can persuade someone from Blantyre to come here and do the surgery…I'm not sure. But we will wait and see. In the meantime, Florence is at home, resting and moving minimally, and of course, giving thanks!

While on the subject of THANKS: I just want to thank all of you who have given towards my ministry here, and especially those who have given lately. The extra funds I have received will undoubtedly go towards the medical costs Florence now faces as the surgery at a private clinic will not be free, nor cheap. Travel to and from Blantyre will also be an additional cost to my budget, so I just want to thank you for listening to God’s prompting to give as He has prepared for these costs in advance, and has given me peace that He is in control! I give Him thanks with ease for His continued provision!

In Christ,


Originally posted to My Heart in Africa