Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Can I Keep From Singing

“My life Flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentations. I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn, that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I'm clinging. 
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing? [refrain]
What though my joys and comforts die?  The Lord my Savior liveth. What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth. [refrain]
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing! All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing? [refrain]
Refrain: No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I'm clinging. Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?”                            ELW Hymn #763

Since 10th grade this song has become one of my rocks. When I was in 10th grade, a young man in my congregation was diagnosed with a very aggressive brain cancer. Although the chemo and surgeries bought him a number of months, the cancer was still there. Just after the doctor left, telling him finally there was nothing more they could do, John sang this song in the solitary quiet of his room. The doctor, having stopped just outside John’s door to collect himself, heard John’s strong and beautiful song. John’s profoundly deep faith was a testament to everyone who knew him. He died a few months later, at the way too young age of 21.  

Me with The Twins: Jenny (left with blue glasses),
me in the middle, and
Cate (right with the pink glasses).
(Photo credit: selfie, Jenny)
In March, I was again reminded of this song and John’s life. I was on a very full bus back to Bogota from the youth retreat, sitting with 'The Twins', Jenny and Cate (Zulma's daughters). Unknown to us their cousin was in Bogota having a stroke, leaving her half paralyzed. This was the beginning of the journey we now know to be a very aggressive brain cancer. 

Laurita, 10 years old, has been a trooper. Since March, she has had 3 brain surgeries and started chemo. She quickly lost her hair, but not her spirit. When she started losing her hair, her mom (Lizeth) held her breath, wondering how Laurita was going to react. True to her nature, she looked in the mirror and said: "oohhh, I look sexy". Another story I heard a few weeks ago took place the last day of school last year. During a break/quiet time Laurita wasn't tired, so while the other children were resting she took and put a rock in every student's backpack. You get a sense of Laurita's nature: a joker, prankster, and all-around good-natured kid.  

Zulma, this was on a recent travel. We took a walk and found
this old can had been turned into a chair. (Photo credit: me)
This is a family I have become very close to. I credit Zulma with teaching  me Spanish, giving me work, making me feel like I have a purpose here, and befriending me. She is who I work alongside every day, who I travel with and the one I go to when I need help, and so much more to me. 

So, why am I writing? I am writing to you, our readers, supporters, family, friends, and whoever else sees this, to ask for prayer. There is nothing else I (or you) can do. Two weeks ago when Laurita went in for her chemo her little body was too weak to handle the treatment. They gave her a little more time to see if her body would get stronger. It didn't. She will start radiation this week with hopes of a better outcome. This has (of course) affected the whole family. After Laurita's stroke in March, when she was unable to walk up and down stairs, her whole family moved in with Zulma's family where there is an elevator. The Twins have taken on an extra role in helping care for Laurita and Juan David, including taking their whole summer break to care for the two rather than hang out with friends. The Twins are in school studying to be nurses, and Lizeth is also a nurse, so Laurita is constantly surrounded by good care.

Saint Paul wrote that when one member of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer; and when one member of the body of Christ rejoices, we all rejoice (I Corinthians 12:26). Please keep the family in your prayers: Laurita, her brother - Juan David (6), her mother - Lizeth, her Aunt Zulma, and The Twins (20): Cate and Jenny. Prayer for healing in the fullest sense, peace, strength, and wisdom for Laurita and her family and friends, that we might not lose hope in God who walks with us. 

Laurita and her family after church this last Sunday:
Juan David (6) left, Lizeth/Mom center and Laurita (10) right. 
(Photo credit: me)
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)