That’s the last question you expect to hear the assistant manager of a guest house in Thailand ask tourist families splashing in the pool and licking ice cream treats on a warm Saturday afternoon.
Startled, Monica rose up on her arm from her towel on the pool deck next to me and quizzically replied, “Emma does.”
“Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed. I didn’t know that, and I’m her mother-in-law.
Monica, a nurse, turned to me with a panicked “Where is she?” look as she shot back to Prani, “What happened?”
“A tourist who just came here last night was in an accident and needs blood so the doctors can do emergency surgery. He’s B-negative.”
I must have still looked confused as Monica and I both scrambled to our feet, because Monica hastily explained, “Asians don’t have the Rh-negative factor in their blood. Where’s Emma?”
Like a beautifully painted scroll unrolling, the full implication of this emergency spun through my mind. A couple thrown into crisis on their first day in a strange, foreign city. Doctors tell the wife surgery is urgent to save her husband’s life, but they have no compatible blood, nor does the other hospital in town. Panic must grip her. Is there a foreigner in town with compatible blood, and how could they possibly track that person down? Where could they even begin to look? Hotels certainly don’t have that information. What are the odds?
Rushing past Prani, I blurt, “Emma’s on her way here with the children. I’ll find her!” Prani replies, “I’ll call the hospital.”
What a wonder: this is the one Saturday of our stay when we didn’t plan any tours or shopping trips. Emma stops, children in hand, as I rush toward her down the path, panting. “It’s an emergency. Someone needs B-negative blood.” We scoop up the children and dash back to their room, hand the kids off with a fleeting explanation to a puzzled Rick, toss on T-shirts and jeans, and run through the dappled shade on the driveway toward the guest house office, the laughter of children swinging and sliding on the playground an other-worldly contrast to our anxious hearts.
As Emma gives information to Prani, the pieces of this puzzle fly together to reveal a picture nothing short of a miracle. Piece one: Prani used to be a nurse, and she “happens” to know the nurse overseeing foreigners at this hospital. Piece two: the injured man “happens” to be taken to this particular hospital. Piece three: Emma has B-negative blood. Piece four: Emma “happens” to be in this particular town at this particular time. Piece five: Emma and Rick “happen” to be staying at the guest house Prani manages. Piece six: Monica, a colleague of Emma and Rick, “happens” to know Emma’s blood type. Piece seven: Monica “happens” to be at the pool with her children when Prani comes, hoping against hope to find a blood donor. If even one piece were missing, this man would die.
Like a jasmine-laden breeze, a peaceful calm enfolded us as attendants quickly bustled Emma into the ambulance that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Mouths open in wonder, we looked at each other across the cots. What’s the proper protocol when you realize you’re caught up by the hand of God in a miracle? Nothing seemed better to do than pray for this man, his doctors, and his wife, and pray that Emma would be able to give the blood he desperately needed.
“I know, I have small veins,” Emma apologized to the hospital technicians who speedily and skillfully descended upon her as soon as we arrived. Though their English was halting, it was obvious they were thankful Emma was willing to give her blood. Two attempts, two veins, and several embarrassed giggles and apologies in Thai later, a phlebotomist sped off with the pint of blood that meant life to someone we would never meet. Wanting to offer some comfort and hope, we asked if we could speak to the man’s wife. Privacy rules made that impossible, so we prayed again that the surgery would go smoothly and healing would come quickly.
How surreal! On vacation in between conferences, here we were in Thailand in a hospital on a Saturday afternoon, Emma with bandages on both of her arms, and me still wearing a bathing suit under my shirt and jeans! Is that what a miracle is supposed to look like? To the rest of the bustling city, it was simply Saturday. Shouldn’t the heavens open, or an angel appear, or something supernatural happen to let you know you’re in the middle of the miraculous?
Evidently not, or at least not always. Sometimes – probably most frequently, I expect – miracles come in quite ordinary packages, via quite ordinary “happen-ings,” pieced together extraordinarily and placed in the praying hands of people who helplessly hope for them. Do they wonder, and will that couple ever know, their miracle is named Emma? Perhaps some Saturday quite simply, when and where you least expect it, someone’s miracle will be named you!
God of miracles and my Father in Heaven, I’ve been so busy looking for ____________________ and I haven’t recognized the amazing things you are doing for and through me, BUT I believe you can __________________________________ . I am in awe to know you can and will move your people around the world to meet my needs, and I have faith to ask you to use me to _______________________________________ Amen!