2016 May 8
Dear friends and family,
It is the end of a wonderful Sabbath day. We spent part of the afternoon by the river enjoying the peace and simplicity of nature. After returning home, we eat a light supper and get ready to shower. My phone rings:
"She was bit by a snake. Can we come?" said the voice on the other line.
"Sure, bring her over," I say, not knowing what to expect. It is now night.
As Melody and I prepare water and charcoal, we see numerous flashlights coming down the road toward our house. We meet a small crowd of people and the snake-bite victim in the push cart. She's probably in her 50s or 60s, and is in a lot of pain.
She was bit a while ago, but no one knows exactly how much time has passed. It seems to be under an hour at least since she was bitten by a viper on the path between her village and Bere. She made it to the little clinic, but of course there was no anti-venom available. There was no anti-venom at the Adventist hospital, either. Somebody suggested bringing her to us. She was bitten on her lower ankle, and now the pain is up to her knee.
I explain that we cannot heal her, and that God is the Doctor here, but that God can use our efforts to bring healing. As Melody and I spring into action, we start mixing a charcoal slurry in a bowl and covering the bitten area and most of the way up to her knee. Then Melody mixes a cup of water and charcoal for her and we instruct her to drink it down.
I have asked for a wire between 1-3 feet long. Somebody returns with a thick piece of wire. "Um, no insulation..." I ponder in my thoughts. "Can you find me a couple of old gloves lying around?" I ask the guard. I had just given them old gloves full of holes so they could scavenge bits of leather for their sling shots. I fetch the motorbike. Now I set up the circuit by connecting the spark plug wire to the thick piece of wire, and instruct her to put her bare foot on the motorbike motor. "Ready!" I announce. Somebody runs the moto starter and I apply the spark-plug shock to her knee and work in a spiral pattern down toward the bite site at the ankle. It is hard for me to concentrate, as I am continually shocked through the thin, cracked gloves. I feel sorry for the lady receiving the shock.
In past snake-bite treatments, I have observed two reactions. One reaction is: "Stop, please stop!" Then I know the pain of the bite is not so bad after all. But the majority of the time, the patient asks me to do it again because there is nearly instant relief. After a couple of minutes of rest, I ask the lady to tell me where the pain is. I squeeze her knee. No pain. I squeeze below her knee. No pain. I squeeze several places on her calf. No pain. The pain is concentrated strictly in a small diameter around the bite.
We give her another cup of charcoal water. We instruct her to drink as much water as possible to try to dilute whatever poison is already in her blood stream. As some pain returns to the bite site, she asks me to shock her again! I do so, but get a solid zap myself. I readjust the gloves so the leather is 4 layers thick. Then my shock is reduced enough to allow me to concentrate enough to apply the remaining shock to her ankle.
Now that it seems as though we made some progress, I explain again that God is the best Doctor. There is nothing magical about the water or the charcoal, but God can bless our use of these simple remedies. We offer a prayer to God, asking Him to bring complete healing.
The small crowd decides it is time to go find a place for this lady to rest for a while, and they decide to go to Yague's house. Unfortunately, Yague's father is into traditional healing methods connected with spiritualism. Melody and I worry about what else they might try.
Upon arrival at Yague's house, his dad is apparently ready to prepare some sort of treatment with roots or powder or whatever they typically do. He sees the ink-black charcoal smeared all over her leg. Then, when he finds out that the pain is reduced from knee-level to just local at the bite, he exclaims, "Normally, the pain stays for two or three days. What kind of treatment is this, anyway? Nothing I have ever tried has been this effective." God is more powerful than any of man's techniques.
By now, a large crowd has gathered. People from the lady's village of Toutchinde have arrived to watch her die. In amazement, this crowd witnesses the snake-bitten lady sitting on the mat. Before coming to our place, she had been crying in pain, but now she was talking normally as if she had not been bitten by a snake! Many people are amazed, and express their gratitude for our help. A moto from her village arrived, and she decided to return back to her village.
Praise to God for blessing simple techniques and for performing a miracle of healing for this lady! Yague will visit the village this evening to follow up on her and to deliver some literature to the people there. Please pray for this lady and for her village of Toutchinde.
In His service,
Jonathan, Melody, Gideon and Liliana Dietrich