My sweet family of 3 is headed on an adventure next week! We are packing our bags and going to Europe! We will be in Czech Republic with dear friends and then will take a few days to visit Munich, Germany for the first time!
In preparation for our trip to Czech (seriously, one of the places closest to my heart), I thought it only fitting to share memorable stories from previous trips to Czech Republic in the next two weeks. This week’s story is one that I have recounted often verbally – if you live near me it is likely that you have heard this tale before…
Yes, it is the story about boils, scary light bulbs, and the man in the speedo.
Here we go.
A few years ago, Josh and I took a mission team to Czech Republic where we worked in local high schools sharing facts about Texas while also partnering with a local church. These trips were always filled with laughter as we taught students the art of a perfect “Yee-haw” and “Howdy,” and we also always managed to play hours of volleyball. Simply put, these trips were fun – a lot of fun!
That is until the boils joined our trip. That’s right – I said boils…as in one of the plagues.
You see, a wonderful young woman came to me with only 3 days to go on the trip and explained that she had boils. Two to be exact – one on the back of her leg and the other on her tushy. I was dubious since I wasn’t really sure what a boil looked like, but this young woman was a nurse back home and quickly diagnosed herself that she in fact had boils (later, we learned they are simply a form of a staph infection – just in case you wanted a little medical information on boils).
The problem with boils is that as they swell, they become hard and extremely painful to touch…and since we would be traveling home in 3 days the prospect of sitting in an airline seat for over 8 hours with a boil on a tushy was a definite problem.
It was determined that we had to go to the local hospital in order to deal with the boils. It just so happened that we were in a small village of Czech Republic so the hospital was really more of a clinic, and to put it nicely…the clinic was scary.
In fact, I have the memory of the light bulb seared in my brain…it was a seriously scary light bulb. As we walked into the clinic, the waiting room, which was actually a hallway was lit by one dangling light bulb that sputtered out light. I’m not one that watches many horror movies, but as we sat on the bench in the waiting hallway all I could do was think about the fact that typically there is a hallway with a flickering light bulb right before someone gets kidnapped…or worse.
My friend with the boil was having similar thoughts, because as we waited she squeezed my hand and said, “You know, I think I can manage the pain on the flight. Let’s just go. I can wait and get this checked out once we get home.” I gave her words consideration for a few moments but remembered her wincing as we sat down, and said, “No, we’re going to be fine! Trust me – you’ll be so glad once this is over!” I put on my biggest fake “I’m the leader, you can trust me smile” and quietly prayed that my words were true.
My prayers were starting to convince me that we were in deed safe when all of a sudden we heard screams outside the waiting room. The screams were coming for us and as we turned our heads towards the outside door we saw a man running into the waiting area waving a bloody hand while also screaming bloody murder! What was equally shocking was that connected to his mangled hand was nothing more than a tall lanky man in a speedo and an unbuttoned shirt – it was quite the sight!
As the man yelled in what we discovered later was Dutch, my sweet friend gripped my hand even harder. She was more serious this time, “Paige, REALLY I think I will be okay. I can manage the pain, but I’m not sure about this place.” I reassured her we would be fine, as the speedo man plopped down right next to her and the light bulb sputtered for light.
The speedo man went to see the Doctor first (apparently severed fingers take precedence over boils…I agree with that decision). And we waited some more. The more we waited and the more that light bulb flickered the more I began to question my decision as a leader. Was I really making the right decision? Were we in danger? What if this made her pain worse?
As I was getting lost in my thoughts of doubt our names were called in a language we didn’t understand, and we were ushered into a medical exam room by a nurse who looked to be straight out of a World War II novel. She was short and stout wearing a proper white nurses uniform complete with the white cap perched on her head. She was gruff and immediately she told our translator that I must leave.
My friend gripped my hand and whispered through clenched teeth. “DO NOT LEAVE ME.” I stood my ground explaining that I would be staying, and after a few rounds with the nurse I was instructed that I would likely see blood and that she refused to take care of me if I fainted. I explained I understood and took my position next to my friend
After a thorough examination it was determined that the boils would need to be lanced, and as my friend’s eyes grew in size I decided to do my best to take her mind off of this procedure. I grabbed her hand and told her once again, “Trust me, it’s going to be fine.” And then I proceeded to tell her my “Josh Story.” I told her about the day we met and his subsequent stalking. I told her the little details of our story that I so often leave out, and at one point when I foolishly looked up to see – blood – she squeezed my hand yet again and made me continue with the story.
As we left the medical room, my friend was patched up and ready to ride 8 hours home. I was tired from telling my tale, and we were both were thankful that we didn’t let the fear of our surroundings cause us to retreat.
Over the years I have thought often on this story. I think in some ways it is a good picture of our lives…especially when we are in times of waiting. Isn’t it true that when we are sitting in the waiting room the light seems so dim and the prospects on the other side of that door (whatever that door may be) often begin to seem less appealing the longer we wait?
And how often do we give up on waiting because we meet someone who has a worse story (like the speedo man)? Either they have been waiting longer or their need is greater, and so instead of pressing in and continuing to trust we contemplate giving up. We think that perhaps we can endure the pain or be content with that thing that is “good enough” when freedom or the best option is right around the corner?
It is an interesting place to be – waiting.
It is a hard place to be.
And yet it is a good place to be…because it means that there is something worth waiting for.
May we each have faith today in the One who knows what we are waiting for, and may we trust not in what we see but in His ways.