51. “I see this very well…”

Manzanita, OR

After a few false starts I was able to start using an alarm clock again.  It helps since I have to be up early to get to Planet Rehab on Tues/Thurs.  VT is just down the road so getting there doesn’t take so much doing on Mon/Wed, but I just set the clock for the same time every day since it takes too much eye-work and motor skills to change it.  I have long favored waking to the radio vs. the buzzer and I recently woke to hear a message by Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, the pilot among the 5 missionaries who were killed in Ecuador.  Steve is the little blonde boy in that famous Life Magazine photo of his cowboy-hatted profile with the beautiful tropical bird in the background (a gift from the people who eventually killed his father).  Now if you have no idea what I’m talking about go watch Beyond the Gates of Splendor on Netflix – it’s a documentary (2004), and there’s a hysterical sequence at the end that shows Steve Saint and Mincaye going to the supermarket.  There was also a feature film made about this subject in 2006 called The End of the Spear.

What really gripped me about Steve Saint’s message was the story he told about his youngest child.  She was the first girl in the family, and the Saints were thrilled.  It took some convincing on her part but they allowed her to go on tour (she was a musician) for a year.  On the day of her return in 2000 she wanted to lie down for a bit since she had a headache.

She had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and the paramedics came to whisk her to the hospital.  There was a huge flurry of activity which must have looked very strange to Mincaye, their adopted grandfather, who was staying with them.  Mincaye was a member of the Waodani (referred to in the past as the Auca Indians) and he had been a member of the group that had speared the 5 missionaries when he was a young man.  There had been no time to explain what was happening to Mincaye, so in the middle of the hospital hubbub Mincaye caught Steve Saint by the arm and asked, “Who is doing this?”

I think his question implied that he was ready to go spear the responsible parties with an IV pole if they were hurting his “granddaughter.”  Steve Saint simply said, “I don’t know.”

But then understanding illuminated Mincaye’s face and the fierceness drained out of it.  “Aaaah, I see this very well,” he said, using a turn of phrase characteristic of his native tongue.  “God Himself is doing this.”

The Saints’ daughter died that day and the story of their loss grieved me to the core.  But Mincaye’s words struck me as a brilliant summary of a very dark and sad event.  His mere presence in the Saint home is a powerful testimony of love and forgiveness.     He was responsible for Nate Saint’s death and yet Steve and his family welcomed Mincaye into their inner circle where he discharged his duties as grandfather with honor.  But it was his words at the hospital that I find even more daring than the change in his life after becoming a follower of Christ.  I personally would have cringed at assigning responsibility to God that day in the hospital.  But Mincaye just called a spade “a spade,” and maybe I should, too.

Last night I told Mommy, “Sometimes I wish this hadn’t happened but I know it really did happen and I’m so used to it now that I don’t really wish it hadn’t happened anymore.”   When I was hospitalized in OR it took a while for me to acknowledge that my injury might have happened.  After I decided that everything was too detailed to be a dream I started thinking, Okay, this happened, but my behavior and the questions I asked indicated that I was hoping it hadn’t happened.  It wasn’t until about a year ago that I stopped hoping it hadn’t happened and started accepting that it did.  It’s taken some time but I’ve gradually become unafraid of assigning responsibility for what happened to me to God.  Now I know that it’s okay to carry my logic through to the end point and rest the responsibility in His hands – after all, He is God – it’s not like He can’t handle it. (Side note:  Forgive my colloquialism – you know I mean it reverently.) 

Admittedly, I’m still a far piece off from “celebrating” the fact that this happened to me.  I mean, come on – I’m still getting used to acceptance.  But check back with me in a year or two and we’ll see what my story is then.  Speaking of celebrating, I’m going to start thinking about Ed’s 82nd Birthday Bash!  My brother will celebrate a milestone birthday then too, so maybe we’ll all go up to see them and party together.  Hey, E&R – let’s discuss.

p.s.  I did okay at PT yesterday and am back to my M-Th therapy schedule.  Let the good times roll!  Thanks for praying.

p.p.s.  Steve Saint was badly injured in June 2012.  He was testing an aircraft (his ministry designs flying devices for indigenous peoples) and something (sorry, I’m unclear on the details) fell from the sky and hit him on the head, resulting in neck-down paralysis.  He’s had spinal surgery, is regaining feeling and can walk now, but I’m sure he and his family would appreciate your prayers as he continues to recover.