(written May 2011)

T. and I have an understanding – or at least I thought we did.

I am the one who goes to the top of rather suspect ladders and at other times dangles from roofs or steps from stairs across a chasm to a wall, hanging on with duct tape and chewing gum in order to accomplish some task. And, as I’ve often contemplated whilst on the top step of a wobbly three meter ladder – we live in an active earthquake zone, if the ground were to shake now….

And so, it was kind of agreed, I am the one who takes questionable risks and I will most likely be the one reaping an undesired, unintended harvest one day.

It was a Thursday, the day before the South-east Region Ladies conference was scheduled to commence. As our fellowship is one of the hosting fellowships and as the elder’s wife is on the conference committee, these past days, dare I say, weeks, have been fraught with organization, planning, decision-making and the general whirl of details and a myriad of arrangements that need to be predicted and catered for. So much to do; the speaker was arranged (a Turk) and instead of seminars, studies coordinated with what the speaker would share had been planned, accommodation, catering, child care, transportation… the list rolled on.

We had ladies coming 900 km from the east, 500 km from the west and 670 km from the north.

And this was to be done on the cheap… no hotels or fancy conference facilities. We – the saints in Antioch – were housing the 170 ladies in our homes. For us this means we – that is the elder and his family and us – hosted 10 ladies.

It was in this time of preparation, cleaning rooms, making beds and all the things that need to be done before the ladies, tired and worn from travelling descended upon us, that it happened.

E., the elder’s wife, was doing some last minute preparations in the guest room across the courtyard when she asked T. if she had any spare pillows. T. responded that she had washed two for this very purpose and would go up to the terrace to see if they were dry.

That simple request and response set in train the circumstances that followed.

Now our home is a two level affair. There is a central courtyard and our flat, occupying one side of the courtyard and the guest rooms occupying the opposite side across from our flat. Above us is the elder’s flat; across the courtyard and above the guest rooms there is our shared terrace. To gain access to either the elder’s flat or the terrace there are two sets of stairs. One goes up to the left to the elder’s flat and one to the right to the terrace, but they meet at a common point some six steps above the courtyard where they are united with one, common run of steps to the courtyard.  I should also mention that there is also a gate where the three staircases meet to ensure the dog is confined to the courtyard.

Now whilst there was no pressing imperative to cause speed, T., not being slothful, hurrying towards the terrace she began clambering up the common staircase.

What comes next is a bit muddled.

She mounted the first three stairs and came within reach of the gate. At this point it would appear that she missed the next step, it seems stepping to her left and the next thing she is aware of is she is flying through the air.

Her sole thought was, “This is going to hurt.”  There was nothing she could do but emit a loud cry as the flight commenced.

I was at my computer editing the Resurrection Service we had the joy of attending and which I video-taped, in a local fellowship some 20 km from town. The bit I was editing was where all are singing praises to God and as T. first scream reached me it was discordant with the video – it didn’t belong. It registered and caught my attention although I didn’t know what it was or from whence it came – it just didn’t belong.

Mind you, the neighbourhood children – and there seems to be a sea of them, play rather rambunctiously and there are frequent screams and other related noises, so my first thought was, “The neighbourhood children….”

But of course, picking up where we left our account of when T began her flight – she couldn’t stay in the air and so her odyssey continued.

The next bit is again a bit blurry, or so I am told.

She somehow managed to pivot 180° and hit the floor on her back, head hitting first, followed by her backside. She hit with such force, she tells me, that she bounced up off the floor and then landed on her side.

“I remember seeing my arms flying, flopping and twisting through the air in slow motion and finally coming to rest on the floor,” she has explained.

Oh, on arrival, there was the second scream that confirmed her earlier thought that “this will hurt” and it did “huuuuurrrrtt”.

The second scream, in really close proximity to the first brought me immediately out of my chair and towards the sound. I had no idea what, if anything had happened.

E. had crossed the courtyard, and on seeing T., was opening our flat door to tell me to come – I was on my way…

On coming out the door I see T. lying on the floor and a two or three square inches of blood on the floor. At that time I had absolutely no idea how she has come to be in this position. As she sits up, I am looking for the source of the blood – I can’t see it, but the blood is there and it has come from her head somewhere…

She says her backside hurts and wants to get up and go inside – which we assist her to do. Personally, I would have laid on the floor and moaned – but then I’m a man.

Saying that, there wasn’t a tear or a sob to be heard – she said, “It wasn’t that kind of pain”.

Still, no trace of where the blood has come from. E. immediately suggests that she go to emergency – the Maternity Hospital is just 200-300 meters away and it so happens that H., the elder is both working there and at that time, working in Emergency.

T. says “No. What can they do?” E. again suggests she go. Finally T. asks me, and I concur with E.

After discussion, it was decided that the two of them would trudge off to the hospital.

Five minutes later I get the call to bring her passport to the Emergency.

Now the last time T. was in a Turkish Hospital was 27 years ago when our youngest was born. It is not a place that we frequent.

When I entered Emergency, T. was not to be seen, but I was there to help do the paperwork. I call it paperwork, but it is all done on computer. Entering in foreign names is always fun, and the poor chap was getting confused as he couldn’t find T’s father’s name in her passport. Her middle name was changed from Elnora to El Nora – I think El is Spanish for “the” so… “The Nora” maybe…dunno, I don’t know Spanish.

Paperwork done, now the age-old waiting game common to Emergency rooms the world over.

I could see a nurse putting hair in a garbage can, so I figured T. was the one being worked on. I guessed either they were looking for the source of blood or they had found it.

Well, three x-rays, four stitches and a prescription for four different kinds of medicine later, our work was done and it was time to trek home. Did I mentioned she fell on her back and walking wasn’t the most pleasant experience – but then neither was standing, sitting, lying….

E. was there helping and H. too, as we were in his work area and they facilitated and helped in a myriad of ways, talking with the nurses, doctors, helping with the x-rays and paying the various costs as they arose.

After we left, one of the workers at the hospital asked H. how he knew us. Since a change in the provision of medical care in Turkey, H. has moved from the village clinic to the local state Maternity Hospital… in this new environment he has been living his faith, day by day, in his attitude to work, his dealings with his colleagues, patients and their families. Now here was the question. This was his opportunity to say that we share a house and we help in the church – thus giving voice to his faith in this work place – the word “church” does not go unnoticed and it prompts immediate follow up questions on how he came to faith.

He has been there for four months – living a good testimony, and here, in a natural way – not telling people whether they want to know or not, but naturally answering a question when they want the answer; the Lord made opportunity for him to declare himself a believer. Word will now spread like wildfire gossip through his work place – they know him for his testimony and and now as a believer.

The ladies conference began the next day. T. gave the Friday evening a miss – not wanting to tramp the ten minutes to the venue there and to slog back after it was all over. Wise. She did go to the Saturday and Sunday meetings and enjoyed it and was blessed.

Pain has continued, but there is improvement day by day. The stitches are now out.

After the fact and with the benefit of hindsight, she still doesn’t know how it happened, all in the twinkling of an eye and it was… a lesson for life there methinks…