Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 4, 2007
Priest discovers God's stop signs must be obeyed
An enforced sabbatical allows time to reconnect and express gratitude
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
Recently, I was in St. Albert for more than a month. Goodbye Chicaman! See you later Guatemala! I realized that sometimes in life it's healthy to pause and do sweet nothing for a while.
In my case I had little choice as several months ago, coming down a bit fast on the narrow rocky path from the community of San Vincente I hurt myself and ended up with a hernia.
Suffering a bit from a hernia is not the end of the world. But it got to be annoying and the odd time a bit painful. My boss, Father Sergio, told me to do what I had to do.
The sisters who are nurses also insisted that I see a doctor.
So I went to the free government hospital in Uspantan some 40 minutes away from my Guatemala home in Chicaman. All three doctors present checked me out: They all agreed that I had a hernia. "Come next Monday at 10 a.m. and we'll operate on you," they said. "OK, I'll be there," I replied.
When I returned home, this good news did not impress Father Sergio or Sister Superior.
They were totally against my undergoing an operation there. I argued that these doctors a few months before had saved the father of one of our seminarians who had a ruptured appendix.
Nothing doing! So the next day I drove for seven hours all the way to the capital.
Father Gerry took me to a Catholic hospital. He said it was one of the best in Guatemala City.
"Good enough," I said.
The next morning I got myself physically and mentally ready to go under the knife for the first time ever. I waited a few hours until a beautiful young woman doctor threw me a sheet that provided me with a small bit of privacy.
"I'm Doctor Maria and I'm going to check you out in regards to you hernia." I didn't panic but almost. "Why didn't they send me a scruffy old doctor, I wondered, one of my kind!"
I said a brief prayer, "Into your hand I commend my Spirit and body, Oh Lord." I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and tried to think of philosophical discussions we used to have in the seminary.
Then I imagined I was in another world, like Canada, very far away. Meanwhile the doctor was busy making her examination and soon she declared that I had no hernia at all.
"Deliverance!" I thought.
Happily I dressed and went to meet Father Gerry to share the good news. He didn't appear impressed.
Sometimes we conjecture events to be deliverance when in reality they are a mere smokescreen.
That's what it turned out to be in this case.
My next step was to come home and consult with Canadian doctors. The physician confirmed I had a genuine hernia. A few days later I went under the knife and never felt a tinge of pain.
I'm very grateful to Doctor Andruchow, a great woman physician, and her many assistants for a job well executed.
I spent some good quality time with my 12 siblings and their families spread out over Alberta and B.C. - blessed reunions and graced moments.
I spent several weeks with my Oblate brothers at the new impressive house the Oblates have in St. Albert. It was a joy to renew connections with some of my former college teachers, some Oblates I went to college with and ministered with in various places over the years.
So many blessings
God has ways of guiding us through life. I thank God for the family and the friends who have showered me with love and blessings.
I also thank the people who have offered financial assistance for the work we do among the poor of Central America.
Now I'm on my way back to Guatemala, eager to minister again to the kind and gentle people who in many ways have been ministering to me by their deep faith, their friendship and their commitment to Christ and to the Church.
I'm also very grateful to many people who have encouraged me to carry on with my articles, not the least among them is Glen Argan, the excellent editor of the paper you're presently reading. To one and all thank you, God bless you and your families. Amen.
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