Dusk had crept over the mountains, and Martha and I hurriedly ran up the outside metal stairs to the top of the half-completed mission clinic. Sleeping bags were scattered over the plywood covered floors, and the roaring generator below helped sustain the one bare light bulb hanging crookedly from the ceiling. Each of us pasted our toothbrush, grabbed a cup with some of the safe drinking water that we hauled in, and headed off to the ditch behind the church house/kitchen to brush our teeth camping-style. We noted the bobbing of flashlights up the steep mountainside, and came to the conclusion that two of our guys were climbing up to watch the last few rays of the sunset. The remainder of our team busied themselves with various projects, the Spanish speaking ones taking the lead, and the rest of us gringos attempting to help out however we could.
We shivered as night completely fell in the rugged mountains of El Cuervo, Mexico. The balmy temperatures at the mission base in Samichique fooled us into thinking we could get by with lighter clothes in our trip up to the mountains. With no electricity, no running water, and no heat, our options were few.
At one instant, we both noticed a small fire that had been started to burn the trash from that evening's supper. Gratefully, we huddled close, trying to absorb some of the heat that seemed to be rapidly escaping our body. With overflowing hearts, we talked of the events of the past two weeks. How God had moved. What He was doing in our hearts. How very, very happy we were to be in the center of His will. As Martha crouched even closer to the fire, I remarked on the amazing blessings God poured on His children. How I felt I could not take one more in. How wonderful it was to call Him Father....
Faster than we could comprehend, an explosion rang out over the mountain side, and all Martha and I could see was the bright flash of flames all around us. The little trash fire had turned threatening as a pressurized can exploded, blowing fire 20 feet outward, and at least that far up. Screams involuntarily escaped our lips, and we staggered back, trying to comprehend how badly we must be hurt. A strange heat filled my face, and the absence of much pain, rather than being comforting, filled me with a panic as I remember back to a few years previously. A fuel explosion in our basement was shortly followed by my 15 year old brother staggering up the stairs, sheets of skin hanging off his neck, but with very little initial pain. I shook uncontrollably, joining Martha as we somehow managed to get ourselves into the clinic where the doctors were already starting to gather.
The first urgent need was removing a piece of melted trash bag plastic that had blown into Martha's eye. We praised the Lord as we realized He had spared her eyesight. I started to pick off the small globs of melted plastic on my arms and hands, while watching the doctors treat the slightly worse burns on Martha's face, neck, and arms. It finally started to sink in that we weren't badly burned. I looked in shock at Martha's hole riddled polyester skirt, and my thicker one, covered with globs of plastic. I shuddered to think of what might have happened had we been wearing cotton. A Mexican women was outside with a rake, putting out the small fires all around the mission compound. How could we have escaped so lightly?
In short order, the guys came in, testifying of seeing the explosion from the mountain. As we talked with others who had observed what had happened, an overwhelming sense of awe crept over me as I realized how God's protecting hand was over us. There is no human explanation how we could have been standing two feet from an explosion of that size, and walked away with such minor injuries. No explanation except for God, and His tender, immense love for us. In gratefulness, we all gathered that evening to sing and praise the God who demonstrated such incredible mercy!
There are two noticeable scars on my right hand and arm that I look at every day. They are small, but the plastic burned deep, leaving me a reminder of the 29th of January. I'm grateful for those scars. I hope they never fade or go away. They are a constant reminder to me of God's love. Of His protection. Of His immense care and concern for me. Even if we had been burned severely, or Martha had lost her eyesight, this love would remain the same. There in Mexico, though, God chose to show it through His overwhelming protection. A line from a song I was introduced to on that trip keeps ringing through my heart. "Heal the wound but leave the scar. A reminder of how merciful You are."
I am drawn to think about two other hands that bear love scars. Hands that were stretched out in love for me. In love for you. May we, like Thomas, gaze on those hands, and cry, "My Lord and my God." May we give Him our all. Our all to the One who gave His very life for us.