The phone rings, and I pick up.
Sally's voice is on the line. "I's quittin' the church," she says to me without even saying 'hello.'
We talk. She tells me it's too much pressure for her to stop smoking while she's in pain from her hip surgery.
She talks for a few minutes and decides not to quit the church. (She really does have a testimony.)
She says that as soon as she has pain pills, she'll be able to stop smoking. We negotiate, and she promises to use only one or two cigarettes a day. We hang up. (I can't believe I just had that conversation - negotiate to continue smoking?)
She goes to the doctor and gets more medication, but the pain pills really don't help.
Days go by. The doctor says that her physical therapist didn't give her the exercises he should have. She needs more physical therapy. She's sure she can quit smoking as soon as she has good physical therapy.
More days go by. Her pain doesn't subside even with more therapy.
The city changes the bus route. Now she can't get to therapy or the doctor. Sally is sure she has to buy a car. That will solve all her problems. Then she can quit smoking.
She buys the car, but still can't quit. Her pain is bad. It's been three months since surgery. Something is wrong. She goes back to the doctor.
He says she has infection in her new hip. He gives her mega doses of antibiotics that will hopefully clear things up.
I don't think he told her that if it doesn't get better, she might have to have more surgery to clean out the infection. (I didn't mention it. She's got enough troubles as it is.)
We have our last hugs good-bye. She's feeling a little better. Maybe the antibiotics are helping. We pray for that to be the case.
She's excited to drive her car to church. Still one or two cigarettes a day.
Story to be continued . . . with the next set of missionaries. (The new senior sister missionary is a retired nurse. Blessings come in many ways.)
Have we helped Sally in any way? Maybe. We've loved her and nursed her back to health after her surgery - done her laundry, taken her to pay her bills, and been her friend.
The only thing we know for sure is that because of Sally our capacity to love has been increased. Our view of life has been enlarged. We will always chuckle when we think of her asking us to become drug runners! What fun we had together. We will always love Sally. She has blessed our lives forever.
That's how we would sum up my entire mission experience. We don't know how much good we did, but we know for sure that we are better for having had this experience. And we had a lot of fun along the way.