October 10, 2009

A Pretty Good Poo Story: A Tale of God's Goodness

***WARNING: If you are offended by any talk of poo, or by words such as "diarrhea," "poop," "runs," or "boo boo" then use caution when reading this note (or this warning. sorry about that.)***

(Another thing to mention before I get started is that diarrhea is such a common ailment when traveling to the third world, that to most missionaries, and to most third-worlders, talking about it seems as natural as talking about a cough or a sore throat...so you'll have to forgive me 'cause I'm pretty darn de-sensitized.)

Now for the boo boo story:

We awoke to the sounds of honking buses, loud voices in the hallway, crowing roosters, and blaring Latino music - what else is new? It's a good thing though, because our alarm never went off, and we had to be ready for the bus at 5:30am. By 6am, the bus never came. We had to come up with a plan B.

We've been traveling all over Nicaragua to talk to pastors and church leaders about a literacy training we're holding in November, and today, we would be leaving for a remote lagoon on the Atlantic Coast with our friend Alex. When we realized the bus wouldn't be coming, we decided to take a "panga" (an old motorboat with lots of seats for hauling people- below), and travel to the lagoon by river.

3 stinky lifejackets later, Tedd, Alex, and I were crammed into a little panga with at least a dozen other people and out on the river. The trip was 1 1/2 hours long just to get to our halfway point and we went about 30mph down the murky, debri-filled river.
As we rode, I started to feel that dreaded little rumbling in my tummy - "Lord," I prayed, "please make my stomach strong for this trip." There aren't public bathrooms readily available in the little hut villages scattered along the river, ya know! After the long trip to our halfway spot (Bluefields), we got on the dock, and we found a bathroom.

Could I take a minute to describe the bathrooms?? First of all, you have to pay to use it, so I paid the man in charge of the toilets 10 cents. Upon entering the bathroom, you'll see there's a toilet, no seat, just bowl, a stinky trashcan filled with very used t.p., and a big bucket of water. I brought my own t.p. (which one learns quickly to do so), and then you gotta do a sort of lunge position over the toilet 'cause you don't dare touch your booty to the toilet bowl.
Oh man, just as I dreaded; diarrhea, "Montezuma's revenge," "the runs"...what have you, it was bad, and I was about to take off on a boat headed to the middle of nowhere! (Meanwhile, Mr. keeper-of-the-bathrooms is standing right outside the old wooden door, able to hear my unfortunate predicament I'm sure.) Oh, and the bucket of water is for pouring into the toilet bowl for a gravity flush - try not to splash!

With hope that it might not be an all-day episode of the big D, I left the bathroom about 8 awkward minutes later (trying not to make eye contact with bathroom man), and we boarded another panga soon after. The next panga ride was going to Laguna de Perlas, our destination for the day, and it was an hour long trip. The scenery was gorgeous- the forest (or jungle) lining the river was thick and flourishing and the sky was so blue! After about 20 minutes, my stomach started to feel terrible all over again, and I knew I would need to go soon. I started getting nervous; we still had 40 minutes left, and you just can't hold runny diarrhea for 40 minutes!! (for the rest of the story, you'll probably have to remember a time when you had diarrhea and how impossible it is to hold it, k)

"Tedd," I whispered, grabbing his arm tightly with panic, "Please pray for me. I think I'm about to explode in my pants! I reeeeally don't think I can hold it!" I wanted to cry. I'm in a boat crammed with people, on a big river, surrounded by jungle, and I have a whole day ahead of me. "If I were to seriously crap my pants right now...not even crap, but have some full-blown [no pun intended] diarrhea right here and now...what in the world will I do?" I started thinking of plan B: "jump in the water?" Nope. The boat's moving too fast, it would be bizarre, and the water's scary. "Yell to the boat driver to pull over, crawl out into some scary jungle bushes, and hope that all these people won't mind, won't hear, won't look?" Yeah. That's what I'm gonna have to do. "But, no. I believe the Lord can help me here..." "or will He??" :-(

At this point I'm literally squirming with panic, breaking out into a sweat, and doing everything I can in my physical & mental power to keep it together [pun intended]. "Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it..." Tedd's praying for me and I turned to our amigo Alex, "My stomach is hurting really badly and I think I need a bathroom RIGHT NOW..." "I don't think I can wait!" He starts to panic; he asks the man next to him, "When do we get to the lagoon?" "In 30 minutes more or less," he says. Alex looks at me, I give him the help-me look, and tell him I just can't wait that long. Now Alex is squirming trying to figure out how to help me. "Well, I'm about to have some nastiness running down my legs and I have no idea how to keep it from happening...I can't believe this is happening," I thought to myself. "Lord, please please help me! I believe you'll help me! I want to believe you'll help me!" 

The boat started to slow down. Huh? But we're not there yet! I didn't have a clue why he was stopping, but he was stopping the boat at a little hut village, and I really didn't care why he would stop, I just looked at Alex, and watched the dock eagerly as we approached with a feeling of desperation. Alex said something like "hey boss, can we have a minute?" The boat driver nodded reluctantly and I jumped out of the boat with Tedd, right across another boat, onto the dock, and onto sweet soil. "Where's the bathroom? Where's the bathroom?" Tedd and Alex asked a lady reclining in her chair. (They seemed as panicked as I was at this point!) "Over there." "Where?!?" "There." I grabbed the t.p. while Tedd held my purse and my lifejacket and RAN to the creepy bathrooms. "Thank You, God. Thank You, God" I said as I reached for the door. While all the people in the boat waited in the sun, and while Alex paid the lady over double the bathroom fee :-), I was relieving myself and praising the Lord. The Lord helped me! I didn't see how it would be possible, and I'm ashamed b/c I lost hope there at the end, and I started to feel all alone, like He wouldn't be there to help me, but He was.

Turns out, the boat stopped just to see if anyone in that little village wanted to get on, but no one did...I sure wanted off though!! Thirty minutes later we arrived to our destination and the Lord made it so that I didn't have to go again for the entire day until I made it "home" that evening (about 8 hours later - a miracle). I even managed to eat a hefty lunch of greasy sea turtle meat and coconut rice, and then rode for 5 hours in a bouncy truck-trailer crowded with people, never having to go until I got home.

Thanks God.  You're so good - even to little ole me.
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