the answer to that John 12 prayer crystallized. Dr. Jonah's spirit of can-do, action, skill, service lives on. Isaiah was sponsored in medical school from a fund that we created after Jonah's death to send promising young doctors to university. His death meant that we lost the only person born in Bundibugyo to graduate from medical school in 30 years. But since then, we have sent 10 (7 doctors, two nurses, and a lab tech), and others from Bundibugyo have also gone to school on government sponsorships. I got tears in my eyes explaining to Dr. Isaiah and Dr. Marc the poignancy of the moment. I truly wish Dr. Jonah was still here, and no number of scholarships will ever tip a scale that makes up for his loss. But even in the pain of Ebola, we can see in Dr. Isaiah stepping forward today the evidence of redemption. What was evil and sorrowful has been transformed by becoming the door that opened for good to come.
And in all of this, walking into danger to serve others, laying down a life, opening the way for redemption, we see a picture of Jesus. Because this is Advent season, on Sunday we pulled out one of our all-time favorite Christmas books. (Only we couldn't find the book, but thanks to Julia we found a reading of it on youtube). Tolstoy re-wrote a French story about a poor Russian shoemaker named Papa Panov looking for Jesus on Christmas day, and not realizing until the end of the day that he actually saw him several times in the faces of those in need on his doorstep. If Papa Panov had been in Bundibugyo, I think he would have noted Jesus in Jonah too.
Which brings me to the final thought of this blog, the hiddenness of Jesus. In our local church on Sunday, we read from John 1. As often happens in different languages and contexts, verse 26 popped out in his sermon for me. There stands one among you whom you do not know. Jesus is here, among us, but we overlook him. He comes without power, without drama, without demanding to be noticed. He comes as a servant, washing feet and walking roads. He comes as the prisoner, the despised one. He comes as an unremarkable infant in a humble small-town shed.
Jonah (left) with Scott holding Caleb, Jennifer holding Julia, and Rick Gray, around 1998
Melen holding Biira, Masika, Jonah, Jennifer holding Caleb, and Luke. This photo and the ones below are from a memorable trip we took together to Queen Elizabeth National Park in 1995.
Let us meet in Heaven, just like this, the savannah and the sun and the camaraderie.
*The Kule Leadership Fund still supports a couple of the young doctors with living stipends during internship, and one nursing student yet-to-graduate. Year-end donations welcome to carry on the legacy.