Thursday night was the annual board meeting (AGM) for Amazon Evangelism/ Project Wellness. I am proud and humbled to be Vice President and to sit amongst the board members and beside my dad, the President at these meetings. I have written before about our little family’s charitable organization that was started many years ago by my parents, George and Sheila Klassen. (Check out my blog post: Man on a Mission).
At the meeting last night my dad told us about some of the accomplishments of the last year: six wells drilled, a new building used to feed and educate orphans and 300 plus orphans fed for the year. My dad paused to tell us a story of how on his last trip, seven children came to him led by a little girl who seemed to be the care taker of the group, she was about eight or nine years old. She told my dad that they were on their own and homeless and asked if they could please be included with the other children (the three hundred that were being taken care of in this particular village). My dad told us that he of course said “of course” and “How could I say no?” And then he said to us, “The Lord always provides.”
The story reminded me of one of my trips to Malawi, Africa (I have been to Africa five times). Mike was along on this trip and he spent a lot of time at the local hospital. Mike went to the hospital every morning, with or without the rest of us (on this particular trip it was me, Mike, my mom, Erin and her friend Lauren). Mike would first stop at the market and get as many tomatoes and bananas as he could carry, and then head over. He made sure that every patient and their family members got a piece or two of fruit and a vitamin. He would make as many trips to the market as needed. Most days he had our help, but some days he did it on his own.
Mike worked tirelessly and inspired the rest of us to keep going back. Erin and Lauren would visit the children and give out stickers and crayons and coloring books and my mom and I visited with the adult patients. My mom and I got to know a man named Amos suffering with pneumonia. On our first visit I asked if we could pray for him and he kindly accepted. On our second visit he said that our prayers were answered and he was feeling much better. On our third visit, we brought him a small book of Bible verses and asked if there was anything he needed. He told us he was being released in a day or two and didn’t have bus fare to get home. He said he could also use a clean shirt and some food for the journey. When we came the next day with Mike’s whitest shirt, bus fare and some granola bars and fruit, Amos was overjoyed. I asked him where the book we gave him was so I could stick the money inside the pages to keep it safe. He pulled back the covers and showed me the book he was holding close to his heart. The next day, Amos was sitting up on the side of his bed, proudly wearing his new ‘Run a Mile for Mental Health’ t-shirt and a smile from ear to ear, I said a prayer for him and we said our good byes.
Once in a while I think about Amos and how a little bit of help went a long way for him. That’s what it’s been like for me and Mike lately too. A little bit of help from a lot of people has gone a long way for us for sure. And like my dad said at the meeting, “the Lord always provides”!
I have asked the Lord for help many times since Mike was diagnosed with ALS and the Lord has been faithful and has provided help over and over again. He has used family, friends and people we don’t even know to help and He always seems to know what we need just when we need it. (Not just for physical needs to be met, but for encouragement, re-assurance and hope etc.)
Here are a few ways we were helped in the past couple of weeks: There was a card in our mail box that had some twenty dollar bills in it and the words from a wonderful old hymn: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow”…the card contained some other encouraging words and was unsigned. A Facebook message of hope from our pastor/friend Trevor…just the right Word at just the right time….and other messages from friends to say they were praying for us. Our friend Charlotte showed up unexpectedly with a meal. My friend Pauline helped me with a major project. My sister picked me up when I was down. Mike’s sister Pat made Mike one of his favourite dinners. My mom brought me over some gluten free snacks. My dad slipped me some cash for our hockey road trip. The day before yesterday, we received some more twenties wrapped up in a wonderful message from my cousin Gail from Steinbach, Manitoba. She told Mike to do something fun with the money – she suggested he take me out or put it toward his new career as a movie critic (see Mike’s blog post: Bureaucratic Red Tape). Mike got a kick out of that!
One night last week my mom had to go the hospital because she was experiencing chest pain. My sister and I visited with her while we waited in a room in emerg to hear what the doctor had to say about the tests that were taken earlier. When the doctor came in, we were relieved right away. He was very upbeat and friendly and told us a joke. He and my mom hit it off and she told him how much she liked him. He assured us that my mom was okay and that she needed to keep an eye on her blood pressure because it was a little high. My sister suggested that perhaps she was anxious about her son-in-law, who had ALS. The doctor chatted with us for a while and I thought that was nice because he had about fifty other patients. Just as he was about to leave, my mom asked him if he was a praying man. He said he was. My mom asked him to please pray for Mike and me. He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed. When he finished, we all agreed how much we need the Lord. The doctor said, “I’d be sunk without Him,” and left the room.
The following message was sent to me by email from my 11 (almost 12) year old niece Michaela:
I wanted to tell you thanks for being such a great auntie and for loving me so much. You mean a lot to me and you and uncle are so inspiring to me. With uncle’s A.L.S. you guys show me how strong you are and how much faith you have in God. I know how hard it’s been and I keep praying for you guys. Once again just thank you so much and I am willing to do whatever I can to help. You’re always there for me and now it’s time for me to help you. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6