I have been working with a friend to compile a short story about my life and ministries with brothers and sisters in El Salvador. This morning, while doing some edits, I was reminded of the power of miracles, and particularly a miracle which occurred for our son. A while back, I wrote about his encounter with fire ants, subsequent journey through anaphylaxis and miracle healing through the power of prayer. This is an amazing and inspiring story in its own right, but like so many stories which include the mysterious workings of God, there is more to the story of Mi Milagro.
For us as a family, for those in our church who share in the story, and for our friends in El Salvador, this is a memorable moment in our relationship together, a moment in which we were frightened and responded in prayer together, and God did something amazing. These kinds of shared experiences knit us closer together as more than sister churches, but as family and as witnesses to the living Gospel.
The allergist, who told our son that he was a living miracle gave him a warning. Desensitization was not an option, given the severity of the first reaction, so the warning was, "Don't travel to El Salvador, don't travel to places where there are fire ants, don't go to college in Georgia or Florida." Well, to an eleven-year-old boy this probably sounded ridiculous and college was a long way off.
Five years later, our son needed to travel to El Salvador to try to help get a shipping container released from customs. As I write this, this sounds somewhat ridiculous, but the intervening years had brought our son to the point of completing his Eagle Scout project -- the creation of a library in the small school in our sister church community. The 1000 inventoried and boxed Spanish books gave birth to The Container of Hope - a shipping container filled with all kinds of supplies for schools, small businesses, and families recovering from the 2001 Salvadoran earthquakes. When the container was held up by customs, our son decided to to with us to the aduanas to try and get it out. Before we left, I made our son promise to always were shoes and socks. We carried two epi-pens and did not venture too far away from the city. Our son was called the boy of the loaves and fishes -- a kid with a little idea that God grew into something big. Eventually the container was set free.
Later that same year, our family joined with another family, college students and adults for a second Christmas Vacation in El Salvador adventure. In the back of my mind, I held onto the warning of the allergist, but our son had no qualms and with epi-pens in the backpack, played soccer, swam, had fun in our sister church community. "No stupid ants are gonna keep me from going back."
Our son did not go to college in Georgia or Florida, although I doubt ants entered into the decision. One early morning, our son called me and said he was sick. "Yes, I want you to come."
I tossed some clothes on and drove the 45 minutes to his apartment. We thought it might be the flu. We decided to drive back to see his doctor near home, but pretty quickly realized urgent care was the better choice. From there we went to the emergency room. From there he was admitted. The doctors tested, and our son got sicker. A couple of days later, the surgeon said his gut was telling him to go in to see what was wrong. In the end, the appendix was the culprit. Without warning it had burst into our son's intestines and abdomen, scattering poison and wreaking 3 days of havoc. Our son recalled the elevator ride with the surgeon as they came out of recovery, "You should have died," the doc said. This seems like an unusually frank comment.
"Mom, that's the second time a doctor told me that."
So it was.
The surgeon talked with us after our son was safely recovering. The tests did not indicate that it was the appendix. Specialists had had a variety of ideas. He had taken the whole file home, studied it and just felt like it was time to operate. At this moment in El Salvador, our sister church was praying over our son. We do not question the power of prayer.
After his hospital stay and before returning to school, our son went to church with us. "God must have quite a purpose for your life," people said to him. "I know," was his response. "Mom," he turned to me, "It's a burden to know that."
I don't know when our son might travel again to El Salvador. But whether he travels or not, his life has been knit together with the lives of the people in our sister church, and for him, this is a miracle.