(Please note there are pictures of deceased people here)
I lost a friend. She was 27 years old. She passed away on the 3rd of July 2014. I wanted to write earlier, but couldn’t. It makes me so sad. My malpa wiru (good friend).
We had some laughs, her and I. Most at my expense. 🙂
I met her just after we moved to Alice Springs. She had come in to Alice as she was quite sick and was having some tests done. She was married and had a small beautiful boy. They all turned up at church one day after getting on one of our church busses. She gave her life to Jesus and became a part of God’s family. She lived a long way away, but I saw her again and again over the next couple of years when she would come in from community mostly to visit the hospital. She would always be wearing a bandanna and had the most beautiful smile. Each time she came in I would get to know her a little better, but it wasn’t until about 4 months ago when she came in for her second last trip here that I got to know her a lot better. We would talk of her home, of her family and of her love for Jesus. She wanted to share her story, of how God had changed her life. I did not know at that time of how sick she really was or how much her life had changed. I thought that she had caught pneumonia and had just taken a while to recoup. I prayed with her often, and even shared her story at her request to a church we spoke at in Adelaide. She was really standing for her faith and it appeared she was getting physically stronger every day. She missed her family terribly and couldn’t wait to be discharged from hospital so she could return home.
She went home, but it was a short lived visit. Within a couple of weeks she was back, with what was to be her last time. This time, the doctors said that this was it. They called the family in. Her mum stayed with her. She had visits from many friends and family. I would go in, often with another friend from church and we would sing together and pray and read the Bible. It was good practice for me to read from her Pitjantjatjara Bible. She would help me read the words, until she got too tired and breathless and then she would just listen.
She urged me to share her story. She wanted people to know that Jesus was the true way. That He was real and how much her life had changed. One day when I was visiting, a lady was there that had known her for a long time. She was a remote nurse and had a lot to do with my friend’s care. I prayed with my friend as I did every time I visited and when we finished the nurse had tears in her eyes. She asked me if I could see her outside for a moment. When out there, she shared how my friend used to be very angry and volatile and an extremely difficult patient, but approximately 2 years ago, she began to see a change in her. Until now where she had seen a major change in her temperament and the way she dealt with people. She said she was certain it was due to my friend becoming a Christian. How wonderful it was to hear the testimony from this lady. She said she had first thought it was because she was being the best nurse, but she quickly realised that this was a profound change. She was not the only one to tell me this.
I had a social worker pull me aside and tell me the same thing a few days later. They could not attribute it to anything else. When I talked to her later about it and she went all shy with me and asked how I found out, I explained it was because she was now shining Jesus so much, that it had changed her so much that even people who didn’t believe in Him could see the difference in her and had to declare it as nothing short of a miracle (or at least something they couldn’t deny).
We were praying for a miracle, but I know she was ready to go home to heaven. She liked me to read the verse about there being (pika wiya) no more pain, no more tears. She made me promise I would tell others of her hope in Jesus, of the life to come if we believe in Him, of how she changed. I promised I would. She wanted to write her story, but sadly she never got to finish. She began, but got too weak.
Friends are hard to come by in this place, but she became my friend. We were from different worlds in some ways and yet we understood one another. The day she said ‘I used to say you were my friend, but now I call you my sister’ I will treasure that for the rest of my life. I pray for her family. In particular her husband and young son. They are wonderful people and are grieving so much.
I did not get to attend her funeral as I would have liked, my son was in hospital and I was with him. I have been holding back the grief of her loss until now as I would find it hard to cope with that and with all that was happening with my son. But it is time now. Time to share what she asked me to. Time to cry. Time to say goodbye.
She was a strong lady in spirit and her body just couldn’t keep up. I don’t understand why God chooses to heal some people and not others. I don’t know why she couldn’t stay here on this earth, but I do know I will see her again. She is with her little girl who she lost when the girl was 1 year old. She missed her terribly. I know she is finally in no pain and having no more suffering. I know she would be singing the song she was given just before she passed away and her smile would be so big as she is in the arms of her saviour. I miss her. As I do the many friends we have lost since arriving here.
The verse she had displayed in her hospital room was fitting for her then and for us now: ‘Be strong and courageous, for I am with you’.