In 2000, we took off for Indonesia. Another couple arrived around the same time as we did and we found a house to live in together to study language. It was a crazy house for us to rent as it had porches and hanging walkways and we, between us, had three kids and they were all 3 and under.
After language study, we headed to Jakarta, to stand in for the guest home host and hostess. We enjoyed the church there and had Bible studies with some of the believers there. We were there for about 9 months. Our third son, Waterman, was born there.
We then moved to the island of Borneo. We continued our language study some as we looked around for a place we could serve. We didn't do a lot of looking, but pursued going back to the same village where Jeff had grown up. God seemed to be leading us in that direction.
I had three boys under 3 years old, and was trying to learn the language. My husband had a head start because he still remembered the language. So there was a girl, who came to live with us and she helped me with the boys and the housework so I could study.
In May of 2001, we moved in to the house in the tribal location where Jeff had grown up, and even to the house he'd lived in as a child. The girl, who had moved in with us, moved along with us. What a blessing it was to have her with us! She was from this tribal area, but not the village we were in. She helped e with language even before we moved.
It seemed like living in paradise with a banana grove right outside our office window and red hibiscus flowers in the background. A beautiful river flowed right outside our house. When it wasn't raining and flooded, the river was clear and shallow - perfect for three little boys to cool off in.
Because our river flooded during heavy rains, we decided to build a fence to keep our children from wandering to the river. The next day we were getting ready to have company for supper. Jeff was working on a swing set out in the back yard. Since the girl, L-, and I were busy with supper, we sent all three boys outside to watch Daddy. This was Waterman's first time playing outside as he was just walking well. Daddy and I thought it would be fine for him to be out there, but L- didn't know about it.
L- came and said, "Since the river is flooded, I think I won't take the boys to the river with me while I bathe. I'll just bathe them up here at the house." Bathing in the village usually took place in the river. The girls have tube cloths that cover them like a dress, and they are super talented at getting bathed in those things. I, on the otherhand, never learned well how to do it.
I thought that would be fine, and I would take mine at the house as well, because I was busy with supper, etc. L- finished up with her bath and then got ready. When she was done she came in and told me she'd get the boys and bathe them.
She went outside and grabbed the boys and brought them in and bathed Sharpie and Jones. Problem was she didn't even know Waterman was out there and didn't see him when she went to bring in the boys. So she came to get Waterman and that was the first we realized there was a problem.
Waterman was nowhere in sight and at 17 months he wasn't talking much yet, so calling for him wasn't working. I ran to the fence to check the gates. L- stayed with the boys. Daddy ran the other way toward a fish pond. The fence's gates were shut. So I turned toward where my husband was going when he called, "He's in the fish pond."
I rounded the corner just in time to see him pulling my baby out of the water. His skin looked like a porcelain doll. He wasn't breathing. I ran to go get help. Thankfully, our company was a trained nurse and her husband who had come to visit. But they were quite far away. As I ran I passed a house that was on the way, these people were co-workers of ours, so I called to them that Waterman had fallen into a pond and wasn't breathing and kept running.
When I arrived at our Western co-workers house, where the nurse was staying, I was out of breath. We all came running back to help my husband do CPR. When we got back there was a crowd of people around my husband. They were telling him to move the baby to the porch where it was clean and not to push so hard - "You might break a bone." My dear husband (dh) just kept working where he was. He didn't figure moving him was as important as getting him to breathe, and that a broken bone was better than death.
I stayed away from where they were working because I didn't want to get in the way. Or maybe it was because I was too afraid to watch my baby die. We were all sure he was dead. We don't know how long he wasn't breathing - I had time to cross the river twice to get our Western co-workers for help, and then we all crossed that same river two times and still it seemed forever.
Testimonies shared later told us that at different times someone was giving up while another was renewed with hope. They took turns doing CPR. There was no time to find a heartbeat, breathing was the goal. I was away from them praying out loud in the tribal language that God would do His will in Waterman's life.
It's amazing how much can go through your mind in a short time, but my mind was reeling with all the different outcomes that could happen and I knew that I couldn't figure out what was best, so I was o.k. with God choosing. My dh was reminded of the fact that I was expecting our fourth, and was sure that Waterman was gone. So he was thinking that God had provided another not to replace Waterman, but to help us with our grief.
After awhile, one of co-workers noticed his mouth twitch. Dh had seen it too and thought it was just the end. Waterman started breathing soon after and we took him to the porch and started to warm blankets for him to warm him up.
During this time, Sharpie was trying to see his little brother and stood up on the bench. He fell off and split his forehead open on the swing dh had been making when all this happened. So I picked him up and laid him on the kitchen table. I knew my baby would be fine with someone else holding him as he was still in a coma, but my little boy needed his mama. Sharpie was just four, and Jones was three.
Someone said, "Hey this is like Job, grab the other kid before something happens to him." So Jones was quickly scooped up and snuggled safely in someone's arms.
We watched Waterman carefully. It was too late to call the plane, a little six seater that could take us to the Baptist hospital. It was a half hour to come from town and then an hour to the hospital. This was evening and the plane would make it in, but not be able to leave until morning. We called the hospital on the radio and they told us that they wouldn't be able to do anything anyway. They would just be able to watch for fever. So we watched. He was in a coma for another 8 hours.
When he came out of the coma I remember thinking that it was like a newborn looking at his mama for the first time - just eyes moving and no head movement. And slowly he started saying the words that he'd been saying as he looked at a farm book - duck, cow etc.
But his body wasn't keeping up with his brain. His extremeties weren't getting the messages. He held his head cocked to one side and his arms and legs would stop working with no warning. So we tried to hold him, but for a little boy who's just learned to walk this was extremely frustrating.
Around one, the next afternoon, he started a fever. We quickly called the plane. The weather was looking bad, but the pilot said he and the new guy would come in anyway. We hurried to get ready. Sharpie and Jones would stay with our co-workers who were like Grandpa and Grandma to them. This couple was there as well as their daughter, who was like an aunt to the boys.
We hopped into the plane, and took off as soon as we could. The weather was looking bad and a storm was coming up, but the pilot wanted to make sure that Waterman made it to the hospital. I remember riding in the plane with lightning all around praying that God would protect us and little Waterman was just smiling at me and playing. I remember thinking, "Did we really need to go through this storm to get you to the hospital? You look fine to me."
He recovered, as far as I can tell completely. A few years later, a person who had taken training in early childhood development was caring for him for a week with a bunch of toddlers, while we parents were in a conference. I asked her about it and she said she couldn't tell at all
A month later I miscarried. It was very difficult, but one thing that helped me was thinking of Waterman's accident and knowing that I already had so much time invested in him. I felt that it would be hard to lose him than the little one that I'd only known about for a month. Not saying that it was easy, but just that I think God helped me to look at it that way so that it wouldn't be unbearable.
We were sick a lot during that time. I think it was just being newbies and not being used to the germs and such that were there. My husband and Sharpie also had real problems with malaria and were on meds for that quite a bit In fact I remember once that they both had it and then six weeks later they had it again.
It's pretty scary having your little one screaming about spiders on the wall (hallucinations) because of the medicine that helps him get over malaria. Two were even in the hospital with potential cerebral malaria, which is even scarier too.
Around the beginning of 2003, I was expecting again. So we took a trip to the Baptist hospital to see how things were going. We found out that I was expecting a girl, but that her brain was not forming properly. She had "water on the brain". The hospital was not prepared to handle this so it was either Singapore or America. We chose America because our boys could stay with Grandpa and Grandma. I wanted dh to be with me through what looked like it would be a hard experience.
Dh went with me to the first doctor appointment in the US. When they did the ultrasound, neither of us saw what we had seen at the Baptist hospital. The brain looked symmetrical to us and seemed to be fine. The doctor told us exactly the same thing. Our little Bugaboo was born in Wisconsin. At this point everyone in our family had been born in a different state or country.
We are so thankful to God for our two miracles. And now you know why I call him Waterman.