Working Together for Chendra
While visiting one of AFM’s Southeast Asia projects recently, we got an early call Sabbath morning to come quickly. Chendra was very sick and needed to be transported to the local hospital immediately! We met Cara Greenfield, and Diane rode with her while I followed in another vehicle as we drove to Chendra’s village in the hills.
We first met Chendra a couple of years ago. She is a 17-year-old who suffers with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Many times, the pain in her legs has left her bedridden. Chendra lives with her oldest brother Rah, his wife Pov and their two little boys. Pov is a faithful believer and is currently studying to be baptized. Chendra is learning from her sister-in-law about Jesus and His promises. She recently said she wants to know Him more.
Arriving at Chendra’s house, we found her in bad shape. Her eyes had a fixed stare with few blinks, and her left arm was not moving. Immediately, she went into convulsions. She had no fever, but her moans indicated she was suffering great pain in her head and neck as we hurried her to the private hospital in town.
When we arrived at the hospital, they would not admit Chendra. “She is too sick,” was their baffling explanation. So we rushed her to the emergency room at the local government hospital. She was surrounded by family, and Cara is a registered nurse, so Diane and I left to pick people up and take them to church. After church, Cara and Diane went back to the hospital to spend the afternoon in prayer over Chendra.
After vespers that evening, we all went to the hospital. The doctor told us he thought Chendra had meningoencephalitis (a combination of meningitis and encephalitis). It is rare, but because of her compromised immune system due to her congenital condition, she is more susceptible. They decided to keep her at the hospital for up to two weeks and monitor her condition.
As we prayed with Chendra before leaving, we praised God that the I.V. antibiotics seemed to be helping.
The next morning as Diane and I prepared to drive home, we were called back to the hospital. In the ER, we found Chendra’s family arguing loudly with the nurses on duty. The issue seemed to be money and whether the hospital would release her so we could take her to a larger hospital in the city for better care. The local facility wanted to send her via ambulance, which would be expensive, but Chendra’s family felt that was not necessary since she had eaten that morning, walked (with assistance) and become much more alert.
Eventually it was agreed that we would transport Chendra and Pov to the city along with a local Bible worker we had already been planning to take. We got everyone as comfortable as possible for the long drive. Unfortunately the hospital took out her I.V., so Chendra had no fluid going in except what she would rarely drink through a straw. We were told she refused to wear the adult diaper and did not have undergarments on, but that she would let us know when she had to use the bathroom. Thankfully, Diane and Pov were there to help her.
As I lifted Chendra into the van, she cried out. She still could not move her left arm, and adjusting it caused her pain. Also, her legs were hurting so much that any movement put her in agony.
As we drove away from the hospital, the strong smell of urine, sickness and an un-bathed body filled our vehicle, making me nauseous. I had to open my window to keep driving.
The plan was to meet Boaz and Ruth Church on the road so they could administer an I.V. with vitamin C, calcium and other nutrients this poor girl needed so badly. We expected to meet about four hours into the drive and let them transport her the rest of the way to the hospital. However, the best laid plans do not always come to pass.
Roads in this country are gauntlets of potholes, ruts and construction. I tried to avoid all the bumps I could while maintaining a good speed, but each jiggle caused Chendra a spasm of pain. We prayed that this young child of the Lord would survive this journey to glorify Him.
About two hours into our drive, we had to make a toilet stop—another painful ordeal for Chendra. To make matters worse, Pov started experiencing motion sickness and violently emptied her stomach numerous times along the road. Satan seemed determined to discourage all of us, but we knew God was with us, and we would not be easily dissuaded.
We reached the rendezvous point 45 minutes before the Church family but well after dark. It had been a long drive since our departure at 1:30 p.m. While we waited, I went to find a new towel and some warm water so Pov could gently clean Chendra’s sweaty body. During this reprieve, Chendra relaxed and fell asleep.
When Boaz and Ruth arrived, we decided not to move Chendra to their vehicle and cause her more pain. Boaz tried to get an I.V. started, but there wasn’t much light in the van, and Chendra’s veins were shrunken with dehydration, so we decided to all go together to the hospital.
Amazingly, after we prayed again, Chendra said she was hungry. She nibbled on a banana and ate a small amount of watery rice. We rejoiced!
Finally, after about nine hours of travel, we arrived at the ER. Nurses drew Chendra’s blood, gave her a CT scan and administered fluids, antibiotics and pain medications. It was a miracle that this young lady was still alive. Boaz was familiar with the hospital staff, so he stayed the night with Chendra and Pov. The next morning Chendra was sitting up and looking more like the sweet girl we had all come to love. Praise the Lord for sustaining His child!