Dec 192014

Many years ago I read a book about two Jewish, Polish sisters during WWII who were taken to an extermination camp. One day while in the barracks, they found their beds infested with bugs. The older sister said to the younger that they should give thanks in all things, even for these bugs. So they prayed to God in thanks for sending them. The next day the Nazi soldiers were inspecting the barracks for a smuggled child. This child was in the sisters’ barracks. But when the soliders saw the bugs, they immediately turned and walked out, afraid of becoming infested themselves. The bugs saved the child and potentially everyone else.

I’ve never forgotten this story. Time and again its lesson has proven true in my (very priveleged) life.  When things are awful,  painful, going wrong, we should give thanks anyway. There may be a reason for it that we can’t see in that moment.

For the past few days I’ve been holed up with a bacterial infection in my…uh…insides. All I will say is that it was extremely painful. I have never before been in such agony. At one point I was in so much pain that my bedsheets were soaked in sweat. My mom, bless her, texted with me for hours to help distract me. The other volunteers continuously checked up on me.  Our volunteer coordinator, Sue, met me the next day to take me to the clinic. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by loving people in this foreign country. I would not have been able to make it without them!

Last night, when the pain was a little less and I could think clearly, I offered a prayer of thanks to God. I gave thanks for the doctor, the anti-biotics, my friends and family, and for hotels with western toilets. But I also gave thanks for the stabbing pain and seemingly never-ending suffering. I don’t know yet what the lesson will be. Maybe it’s so  that I can help someone in the future who is sick and in pain, so that I can understand a little more what they are going through. Maybe it’s so that I can more fully appreciate the times of good health. But no matter what, I knew I had to be thankful for the experience. Honestly, I feel like if I was bitter about it, the Universe would slap me with something to really feel sorry about!

Now, clearly I was not in a bug-infested, Nazi concentraction camp on my way to iminent death. But pain is relative. There but for the grace of God go you and I.

It has been a rough start to my service time in Nepal. But there is no way I would call it quits and leave early. Challenges develop character, make us who we are. And the students here keep me going. Just when I’m feeling homesick, literally sick, or frustrated, one of the women will say or do something so kind. Or I will see their faces light up when they understand a lesson, get a questions right. And I’m back in the game!

I’ve been resting at a hotel in Thamel in the last few days. Today was the first time since Wednesday that I could actually eat more than a bite of toast. I am looking forward to getting back to the school and seeing the students. There are dozens of worksheets and games that I’ve been carrying in my backpack that I need to give to them!

Eyes on the prize.




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