Sunday, May 18, 2008

Grace and Peace

A week isn't a long time, but perhaps it's long enough to start to put things into perspective.

Last night (very late last night) as I walked home from the hospital I was thinking a lot about events of a week ago. Looking back, I can see now that there probably wasn't a time when Sam's life was in immediate danger, but it sure felt like it to him, and it sure felt like it to me. At least it allowed me to have a clear idea as to how it would feel to lose him. And it allowed me to have a better idea than before of what it must feel like for any father, any parent to lose a child.

That trip to the hospital had been to see a critically-ill child. I'd been called to his bedside several times during the day, but this time he hadn't made it. I've had that experience more times than I want to remember, and each time I pray with the parents. Each time I want to think of just the right thing to say, the right way to pray that will give them comfort. But it always comes down to the same thing; I pray for grace and peace for them. It always seems so inadequate, but it's all I have to offer.

As I walked home, I thought of those events of a week earlier, and of my feelings when I had thought about the possibility of losing our boy, and how God had ministered His grace and peace to us. I realized that it is no small thing. What more could any of us ask than for a measure of grace and peace? It is what Paul prayed for the recipients of every one of his epistles.

And it's what I pray now:

Grace and Peace to you,


Photo: Me with Randy, whose name is a combination of "Ray" (Comstock) and "Andy."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rescue in Paradise

It is now Sunday evening--Mother's day. Judy got a great Mother's Day gift, and I get to share it. The end of the story is that Sam is safe and unharmed, except for scrapes and bruises.

Yesterday Sam went with missionary Scott Dooley and volunteer medical student Ben Kumor to explore a cave that Scott has been talking about doing for several years. Scott loves caves, and has done quite a bit of spelunking (the term for exploring caves). Sam and Scott have explored several caves in the area here, but this particular one has fascinated them. The problem is that the entrance to this one is a 150' vertical shaft, and they just didn't have the equipment to safely get into and out of it!

On his last furlough, Scott acquired the equipment he needed, a longer climbing rope, and ascenders, devices that make it possible to climb up a rope. Ever since the Dooleys got back, they have been planning the day. They have been training in trees so that Sam could learn to rappel and ascend with the rope.

So yesterday they drove to Konduk (the title photo for this blog was taken from there), then hiked the 2-plus hours to the cave, along with John Opa, a local friend. They rappelled into the cave without incident, looked around, annoyed thousands of bats, and began to climb back up the rope. But they experienced trouble with the ascending equipment, and ended up with Ben and Scott out, and Sam hanging on the rope part-way up, unable to either go up or down.

Scott, Ben and John tried to pull Sam up, but the rope lay over several angles of rock which added so much friction that they could not move him more than a few inches.

We got cell phone service in the Highlands almost a year ago, which turned out to be a tremendous blessing in this situation. Scott was able to phone us. I brought Jeff Myers and a group of young men from our college of nursing, and drove to Konduk. The young men ran to the cave, and along with some people from Konduk were able to pull Sam up. Although I tried to get there, I did not make it to the cave by the time they got him out, so I waited for him along the trail. We got home about 10 pm, exhausted but thankful to God for His help, and for the wonderful, selfless people who got involved.

Today we went ahead with a previously made plan, and drove into Mt. Hagen for church and a mother's day lunch at a restaurant.

We know that many of you pray for us frequently, and we thank you all for those prayers.

Happy Mother's Day to you all, mothers or not!
Andy, Judy, and Sam

P.S. I'm writing a long, detailed account of the experience. If you want to get it, send an email, and use "Long version" as the subject line.

#1 Sam at the top of Mount Tabi on the way to the cave
#2 Ben Kumor and John Opa
#3 Sam, talking to his mom on the cell phone from Mount Tabi after getting out of the cave.