This post is part of a series of posts I’m working on about the relationships I, and other members of our team, have developed over the course of three mission experiences in Belize. To read more about these relationships, click here.
Our team first met Mrs. Rash in November of 2010, on the first of our three trips to Belmopan to work with EQC. German, the pastor of our sister church there in Belize, had brought her to our attention, and it was decided that our construction team would work on her house. In less than a week, her house nearly tripled in size; its final dimensions, though, were still not impressive by American standards.
I didn’t get to know Mrs. Rash on that trip, or really on the next one, either. I worked primarily with the medical team, so I didn’t cross paths with her on the construction site or during village outreach missions. I knew her reputation, though, and knew that she was a pretty incredible woman. A woman of grace, I was told. A woman of incredible hospitality and joy. I didn’t know her personally, but I certainly looked up to this woman who had made such an indelible impression on so many members of our teams.
During this past trip to Belize, though, I had the opportunity to talk to Mrs. Rash for the first time. A small group of us revisited her home while doing village outreach, handing out beans and rice and flour to villagers in the nearly forgotten village of Maya Mopan. When she saw us approaching, she greeted us on her front porch – opened her arms wide and invited us into her home. She smiled the smile of angels and embraced us – even those of us she had never met before.
As we all crowded into her home, she and I began talking. I had heard that she had not been feeling well, so I asked her about how she was that day; she recognized me alone from the previous trips, and embraced me and opened up about how she was feeling.
“I’m doing very well,” she said. “I just got out of the hospital…God is taking care of me.”
She passed her discharge papers to us, and though the medical terminology was thick and difficult to understand, there were some words that were unmistakable: “suspected lung cancer. Biopsy needed. Consultation recommended with specialists in Guatemala.”
I read those words and looked up at her, wondering how much of those papers she understood…how bad it really was…what would be involved in getting her to Guatemala for treatment. My mind swirled with thoughts and concerns and then, simultaneously, peace. She was not worried. She knew her God was taking care of her.
Still……the words “lung cancer” haunted me. I lost my granddaddy to those words. I know how bad they can be when treatment is readily available, never mind……never mind when it is not accessible.
Later in the week we crossed paths with the incredible Mrs. Rash again. On the hottest day of our trip, this selfless woman ventured into the hottest part of the afternoon to help us minister to the people in her village with soap and toothbrushes and prayers. She was partnered with my group, and as we walked through the dust and rocks, I got a glimpse of the most beautiful light within her spirit. It’s hard to explain just what I saw in her. She translated for us, as the Mayan community primarily speaks Kekchi, which obviously no one else in our group did. She kept the children in order as we tried our best to teach them about service and the love of Christ. She disciplined and taught Truth and ministered to all of us.
She was amazing, and I am so glad that I was able to spend that time with her.
Last week, our team got work from German that the doctors in Guatemala have come back with a diagnosis for Mrs. Rash. She has lung cancer, and needs surgery. We don’t know much more than that at this point, but we are determined to do what we can to help her. She is our sister…our friend…and even if we didn’t have the sacred obligation to take care of her as laid out for us in Scripture, we would want to do so. We love this woman, Mrs. Rash, and she is as much a part of our team as any of our American missionaries.
Please join me in praying for Mrs. Rash in the coming days and weeks. Trust me when I say that she is a blessing, and when we are all reunited in the Father’s presence, I cannot wait to introduce her to everyone who has heard so much about her.