I have devoted the past three years of my life to being a nurse. I have worked so hard and given this dream everything I have. In August of 2018 I graduated with my degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), with all intentions of starting my journey to become a Registered Nurse in January of 2019. I applied in October, truly believing that the Lord wanted me to begin in January. However, in December, I was denied from the program and I was devastated and began to question God, and his timing. I mean, how could His timing be better than the perfect plan I had in my head? Who did He think He was shattering my plans and ignoring my desires? If He loved me, wouldn’t He want what was best for me? For months I searched scripture, and wrestled with the Lord as I continued to attempt to have complete control over my life, as if my life truly does belong to me. I prayed the Lord would give me some sort of reason that my life wasn’t working out exactly as I had meticulously planned. Then, on one faithful February day, in the workout section of Target, my roommate, Morgan, who is also a nurse, told me she was going to Africa to remove these things called “jiggers.” She showed me a couple videos, and I was hooked! I get to do something crazy gross, while actively ministering to another nation? Sign me up! Just two months later we were on a plane, heading to Kenya. In the midst of it all I was still frustrated with the Lord. However, I knew that if I was in school, I would never have been able to embark on this mission and I decided to keep my heart open to understanding what the Lord had in mind.
The first day of clinic, I started to see what the Lord was doing. Removing the jiggers was not what I expected. The videos made it look so easy. However, when it came time to actually watch a child cry in pain as I pulled an infected bug larva out of their toe, I realized I was going to have to go into each day prayerfully, trusting the Lord to hold me together. In this prayerful work, I was in my element. All day, I truly felt I was doing what I was made to do.
At the end of the first clinic day our trip leader, Paige, told us were were going to go into one of the villages because there is an elderly man with jiggers all over his body. The next morning we arrived to a small clay home in the middle of nowhere in Western Kenya, and immediately I felt a sense of the Lord’s presence. As we stepped out the van, an old worn out man, with gray hair and a ripped up shirt came walking out of the house. As he sat down I saw his feet seemed to have more dead skin from the jiggers than healthy skin, and his hands and elbows weren’t much better off. Despite the intensity of his condition I wasn’t overwhelmed for a second. Actually, I was the most comfortable I had been the entire trip. As an LPN, I work in long term care, thus, caring for the elderly is what I’m good at and I was ready to get to work. As we worked as a team, with a person on each limb, we learned this man’s name was Peter, and he had been struggling with jiggers for two years. Also, he went on to tell us that the jiggers had even gotten to his bottom. The more I learned about Peter, the more I felt the Lord’s presence.
We worked for a couple hours as a team, but there was no way everybody on the team could stay, because we were going to set up clinic at the school that day. So, I stayed behind with Jordan, Caren, and Collins while the rest of the team headed to the school. About 45 minutes after the team left we ran out of supplies, and the only gloves left were the ones on the hands of Caren and I. So the two of us went to work!
All in all it took about five hours to get all of the jiggers out of Peter’s hand and feet. We then helped Peter limp into his home, and we undressed him. In the process of undressing him, Caren continuously warned me that we were going to be taking jiggers out of his “private parts,” and we would then give him a bath. I had full confidence because this is actually what I do for a living! We then began to get the jiggers out of every part of Peter’s body. When we finished we got to give him the first bath he had in years, and put fresh clothes on him. Throughout this whole experience Peter had the whole room laughing (and by the whole room, I mean everybody but me, because I has no idea what he was saying!).
After we finished the bath, and he was once again fully dressed, Peter said something in his tribal language. I asked Caren what he was saying. She replied,
“He said- ‘I am finally going to sleep tonight.’”
Then, we all placed our hands on Peter, and began to pray. Peter started the prayer with a passion and rhythm that cannot be found in the U.S. As he prayed I felt the Holy Sprit begin to make himself known. Next, Caren prayed with that same Kenyan zeal, and the power of the Spirit began to fill the room. As I prepared to listen to Steve pray, he looked and asked me to pray next. He asked me, this white girl who looked completely out of place. He asked me, this sinner who thought her life was her own, and wanted her own plan over her Creator’s plans. He asked me- So I began to pray. My prayer sounded nothing like the prayers of Peter and Caren, and Peter couldn’t even understand. Still, in that moment I felt the closest I have ever felt to the Spirit of the Lord.
It’s been exactly two weeks since an elderly man named Peter changed my entire way of thinking, and it’s safe to say I’m still processing it. Peter probably doesn’t remember my name, but I will never forget him. Peter showed me the power and beauty of the Lord’s timing. If my ‘perfect plan’ had worked out, I never would have gone on this trip. My good good Father, closed the door to school this semester, because He knew Peter and I needed each other. HALLELUJAH!!
Through Peter, my loving Lord is helping me let go of this life, and understand my plan is not mine to make. I understand that this life belongs to my Savior, and I want to surrender to that for the rest of my life.