I have arrived safely here at the mission center here in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.  I would say the whole trip from Canada to PNG went very smoothly.  Except for the takeoff from LA to Brisbane.

The guy in the middle seat next to me was acting kind of strange I thought.  He came in and sat down quite a while after the young woman had come and sat down at the window seat.  He had pierced ears and wild tattoos running down his arm.  And then I thought he was trying “hit” on the woman.  It turned out that they were together.

So then while we were taxiing up to take off, suddenly he reached for the bag and threw up three times.  YUCK!!  And then he jumped up and went down the aisle to the bathroom while we were moving towards the runway.  Well…you should have heard the male flight attendant yell out, “YOU…GET BACK TO YOUR SEAT!!”  But they did help him at the bathroom.

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Then after we got to cruising altitude, the Captain came to our row.  He wanted to know if the man was okay.  He was not too bad at that point.  Then the Captain asked if he had felt sick before the flight started.  The man said he had felt poor for two days.

So then the Captain said to him in a very stern tone, “You’ve been sick for two days and came on MY plane?  It would not be very good if we have to divert and land in Hong Kong.  There would be a lot of very unhappy passengers.  And don’t you EVER get up and run down the aisle on a plane again when it is taxiing to take off.  Do you understand me?!!”

Well, just when I thought he was starting to look well, after this tongue lashing, the man looked a bit pale again and just said, “Yes Sir.”  Meanwhile, as the Captain was leaning over me to talk to this man, I was desperately trying to look away and appear invisible.  If I could have whistled nonchalantly and gotten away with it without getting a glare from the Captain, I would have.  Whew….what an awkward moment.

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I felt bad for the man.  And then it hit me.  What if he had some kind of “bug” and was contagious?  Could he pass on to me his illness?  And I would have to share his space for the next 13 hours!  So I sent up a prayer and asked God to protect me from any illness this man might have.  The last thing I would want would be to get to my PNG destination and then come down with some sickness.

And then it got me thinking.  I have a muscle disease that has weakened my entire body, and probably has weakened some of my natural immune system.  I think in many ways I have learned to live with my disease, and using mechanical aids like crutches and walkers, getting wheelchair assistance, and adapting my environment to help me to function and live more comfortably has become second nature.

But the idea of getting some secondary illness, one that could seriously jeopardize my health, is a thought that lurks in the back of my mind and occasionally surfaces.  It causes me to think about the death of my grandmother, and my sister.  Their situations were quite different from each other, but there is one thing that they do have in common.  It was a secondary cause to something else that killed them.

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In my grandmother’s case, she was generally healthy as far as I know for most of her life, and she didn’t die until she was 88.  In fact, she was very active in life, then as a retiree doing hundreds of hours as a Volunteer at the hospital, and then she was always going around her nursing home and cheering others up.  She always seemed to be on the move.

But then one day, she got a cut or a break in her skin that she didn’t take too seriously.  This small area got infected and became a skin sore.  In her usual way of not wanting to bother anyone, she didn’t tell anyone about it until it became a very bad sore.  By this time it was very infected and had gotten into her system.  The doctors tried to cure it with strong antibiotics, but it was too late.  She gave herself blood poisoning and died within a very short period after being admitted to the hospital.  It could have been avoided.

In my sister’s case, she had the same or very similar muscle disease that I have.  The main difference between her and me is that she had always been weak from the time she was a teenager, but thankfully for her, she did not suffer the intense pain that I have.  What led to my sister’s death was a reaction she had to some aloe juices that she mixed up from raw ingredients.

But in truth, it was her weakened body, and the fact that she had had a string of bronchial problems and a case of pneumonia in the winter, that combined with the allergic reaction that overwhelmed her body and she died at age 32 from congestive heart failure.

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So how does this all relate to me today?  I know that right now I have a serious muscle disease.  And unless God heals me, there is likely going to be a day that the weakness will be compounded by some other illness, or some organ that starts to fail.  The question is this:  will I live my life in fear of what may happen one day?  No, I refuse to do this.

I would much rather trust God that He is always in control of my life until the day He decides to take me Home.  I want to be like David who wrote these words:

The LORD will protect you from all danger; he will keep you safe.                                    He will protect you as you come and go, now and forever.

Psalm 121:7-8

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