We have learned to appreciate small victories in Uganda. We had a small victory in dealing with Ishmael and his injured foot. Did it turn out the way we hoped…no. However, we will celebrate the small victories.
We went to check on Ishmael’s foot and his little sister who we were treating for malaria. When we arrived in the village we were expecting the normal greeting of Ishmael running out with a huge smile and all the kids gathering around as we walked up. This time when we arrived it was quite different. There was no Ishmael. We began to ask around the village and found out that his family had gone back to their original village, which is a very long way away. We were all hit with an immediate wave of disappointment and disbelief. Just two days earlier we had treated his foot and spent some time talking with his family, and now they were gone.
Disappointment on my part was immediately replaced with worry and fear. What would happen to Ishmael and his foot? Would it continue to heal? Would it get worse and infected again. How long would they leave the bandage on? As we headed out to the village that day I was really encouraged because we had shown pictures to a doctor back in the States and he had given some advice on how to proceed and provide debriedment for the wound. I would have to cut away some of the fibrous tissue that was developing around the edges of the wound, a painful process, but a process that would improve the healing of the wound. Now that encouraged feeling I had was replaced with fear for Ishmael and frustration about not being able to continue treating his healing foot.
We spent some time in the village trying to determine exactly were they had gone and if they had a contact number to try and reach them. We got one contact number, which proved to be worthless. We all loaded up and left the village dejected, frustrated and worried.
On the way home we started talking about small victories. I realized we celebrated many small victories in the few weeks were able to spend with Ishmael. First, when Cody and Drew found Ishmael in the village he was crawling in the dirt, unable to walk with a dirty t-shirt wrapped around his foot. When we last saw Ishmael he was running, with a limp but running nonetheless out to meet us. God raised this child up out of the dirt and back onto his feet. Small victory!
When I first examined the wound on his foot, I was shocked at how large and how deep the wound was. When we last treated Ishmael, the infection was gone and the wound was healing up nicely. It still had one large area of concern that we wanted to address and remove the fibrous tissue forming, but it was clean and infection free. Small victory!
When we first met Ishmael we were told his family was Muslim. We battled against language barrier and religious barriers to share Christ with Ishmael and his family. We knew we could show the love and compassion of Christ by helping to take care of his wounds, yet we all wanted to do more. On the last day we saw Ishmael, Drew with the help of a translator was able to share about Christ. He asked if he could tell his mother why we were there and if she would like to hear the story of our Savior. Not only was she willing and excited to hear, she prayed with Drew at the end. The last time we saw Ishmael and his family we were able to share about Christ. Huge victory!
I do not think it was a chance meeting that day in the village when Cody and Drew found Ishmael crawling in the dirt. I do not think it was an accident that we got to spend a few weeks helping to treat Ishmael’s foot. I also do not believe it was an accident or lucky timing that allowed Drew to share Christ with his family before they suddenly moved away from the village.
Did everything go according to our plan? No. Did everything go exactly as He planned? Absolutely!
Will Ishmael’s foot continue to heal? We hope and pray it does. Will his family pursue a further relationship with and come to know Christ? We hope and pray they will.
Can we “heal” everyone? No. Can we celebrate in small victories and appreciate the opportunities God places in our lives? Absolutely!
For now we will celebrate the small victories.
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”