Monday, March 4, 2013

These Arms

Today was a perfectly normal day. Really, I mean it.

I did laundry, ate lunch, drew a portrait of Thara Timothy’s little girl, Adrina, and cut Sharon’s hair. I was going to have her cut mine when I’d finished with my bath.

I finished, but Sharon went to hang up her wet laundry ‘real quick.’ So I stood on the porch, hairbrush in hand, intermittently talking to Landon, who was reclined in our chair with a book.

And that’s when I saw Harvey and Brenda. They were coming back across the road from an IMM teacher’s meeting. But something wasn’t quite right. Harvey looked a little strange.

As they got closer, I could see he was carrying something… “What is that?”

Then it dawned on me. “Hey, who’s Harvey carrying? He’s got a student!”

Landon dropped the book and we both waited. “That’s Thara EhGuhNyaw’s little brother!” Landon nodded.

I squinted. Yep, sure enough: Paw Ka Taw, the same little boy who had cerebral malaria not so very long ago.

Harvey got to the porch. “What happened?” Landon asked.

“This boy amputated his toe; we need to take him to the hospital,” Harvey replied.

As he came up on the porch, I got a good look at where Paw Ka Taw’s big toe had once been.

No, I didn’t gross out. But it hurt to see the little guy in so much pain.

We laid him on the floor, propped his foot up, and Harvey and Brenda ran around, trying to get ready to leave. They were planning on going down to Mae Sot tonight anyway and staying the night: but they hadn’t been ready right then.

After some of the excitement died down, I knelt on the floor next to Paw Ka Taw and Hannah, who was holding his leg up. “Heidi, can you hold his leg? I need to run grab such-and-such.” Hannah moved out of the way and I took the boy’s leg.

He was still in shock when he got there, but now he started to come out of it. The grimaces of pain and groans were getting more frequent. I stroked the top of his head a little, praying God would ease the pain as much as he could.

The story came out that just at the end of the IMM teacher’s meeting, Inge had called out and gotten everyone’s attention. A few students have been learning to ride bicycles lately—old, rusty, brakeless contraptions—and Paw Ka Taw had had a wreck right out on the driveway near Michael and Inge’s place. It’s assumed he got his foot caught in the bicycle chain. Michael had to go hunting for his toe, which he found in the grass somewhere.

The severed toe got put on ice in hopes that it could be re-attached. Paw Ka Taw got some pain medication down while we waited for Thara EhGuhNyaw to be ready to go.

Hannah was with us again. I was still holding his leg, and I looked across at Hannah. “Should we go ahead and just get him in the car? I can carry him.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let me get the back all situated for him to lie down in.” Hannah popped up and off she went.

Not so very long later, I picked Paw Ka Taw up off the floor and carried him onto the front porch. We had quite the audience out there now: word travels fast on a small campus. I maneuvered down the steps, not stopping for shoes, and carried the boy to the car. Hannah got in, and we laid him in the back, foot propped up.

We didn’t have to wait very long—Thara EhGuhNyaw showed up and got in the back. A few more words were exchanged, some water bottles retrieved, and off the “Steck Family Ambulance” went, bearing a precious, pained burden.

We got word not so very long ago that Mae Ta hospital admitted the boy, although they aren’t equipped to re-attach the toe. Paw Ka Taw will go the rest of his life missing his right big toe. All because he was learning to ride a bike.

It was a normal day.

It’s not anymore.

My mind goes back to lifting him off the floor. He’s 12 years old. He’s small enough to be 8. And he’s in excruciating pain—all but crying. He’s missing one of his toes.

And he’s in my arms.

Trusting me to get him to the car safely. Trusting me to not drop him.

Trusting me to take care of him, even if only for a moment.

I have to shake myself, even if only just a little bit.

I don’t understand.

Why does God continue to use these arms to hold His children?

I’ve been privileged enough to hold a weeping, broken stranger in WalMart.

And now, a gasping, wounded boy in Thailand.

Who’s next, I wonder?

I don’t understand.

But I know I’m blessed. Amazed.


To be the arms of a loving God to a world who’s dying.

A calling higher?

...I think not.


  1. Wow... What a blessing. What a gift you're able to share with others. I've always loved your hugs... Because I can tell they're heartfelt. That you're willing to share them not only with your loved ones, but also with those you hardly know, is amazing. What an awesome way to let the Lord love through you... I completely agree - there is no calling higher.

    You're always in my prayers! Looking forward to seeing you SOON! :) *e-hug*

  2. Ouch. Now I know why my parents made me wear covered-toe shoes when riding my bike...

    God gave you those strong arms for a reason, Heidi. I love seeing how He uses you. :)

  3. Another insightful blog post, Heidi...thank you. Truly, it is a precious privilege to share His tenderness, love, and concern with this dying world around us.