“Bintou, so, you are an official International Worker, Congratulations!” These were the words from my husband as we walked into the door of our house August 2nd around 2 AM. We had just come from the second of two serious medical emergencies that ended up nearly spanning a 24 hour day! The significance of Rob’s comment is that it seems to be notorious for International Workers (doctors, nurses, pilots) to miss significant days, such as Christmas, birthdays and special holidays due to unexpected flights or emergencies. Yes, it’s true, I’m often on call for emergencies, but what was different this time is that it happened on my birthday, which was August 1!
Monday, the day of my birthday, I went to the hospital for a usual day of work. I was anticipating being back in the afternoon in time to for Rob and me and friends to celebrate my birthday with a nice meal and cake! But as I was heading home, I was called back! A young boy had torn his eye with a fishing hook and was crying in pain. It was a critical injury and we worked until 10 PM.
But before I left the hospital that night to return home we had another crisis, when an oxygen concentrator exploded in a patient room! People panicked and ran away. But God used the fast response of a nurse and anesthetist to quickly stop the fire by unplugging the oxygen concentrator. By the time I got to the room, there was just a lot of smoke. The machine was destroyed but no one was harmed!
I arrived home at 11 PM, exhausted and ready to fall into bed. Gone was any enthusiasm to celebrate my birthday. The beautiful pie delivered to our home as a surprise for my birthday by my special French friend would have to wait until another day.
Now it is midnight and I’m sleeping soundly. But somewhere in the back of my mind I’m hearing a voice…maybe Rob…but I’m thinking I’m having a dream. Then I feel something in my hand…oh, it is a phone! This time it’s a woman’s voice, She identifies herself as one of our Pediatric Nurses and asks me to come quickly! She tells me a girl was brought in with a hole in her eye from an arrow head! Since it is after midnight I ask Rob to go with me. We quickly dress and hurry to the hospital and once again I’m called on, with the help of others, to save an eye!
August 2nd 2 AM! Finally we are home again! I understand Rob’s words, “Congratulations, Bintou, you are now an official International Worker! Yes, I’m one of those people who may miss “special celebrations” in order to save the lives of others.
You may wonder, why would we choose such a life. There are times we wonder that too. It is not an easy life! But one thing I can say is that when I came home at 2 AM, I was not even sad though I had missed celebrating my birthday in the traditional way. Before I fell exhausted into bed, I prayed “Thank you Lord because today my life had meaning and purpose! The day of my birthday, you used me to save the eyes of two young children! I am grateful to you”. Just maybe this birthday God was celebrating me in heaven. If so, that surpasses all the gifts and special foods in the world!