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The Floating Nurse

Whether God turned our saline solution into medicine or simply opened up Maria’s bronchioles, I do not know. What I do know is that He worked a miracle to save her life.

Nurse! Nurse!”

The shouts slice though the silence, jarring me awake with a thundering heart. Who is calling me at a quarter past one in the morning? I don’t recognize the male voice and wait for some indication that it’s safe to open the door. But everything is quiet again.

I crawl back into bed and almost drift back to sleep when someone shouts my name.

“Rosi! Rosi!”

I can no longer refrain from answering. I slip on my robe and approach the door. “Who is it?” I ask nervously.

“It’s the boat guy,” comes the anxious response. “We have a man in the boat who has been shot with a 12 caliber gun. We need your help!”

This incident is one of many medical emergencies that I’ve faced while serving as a missionary nurse in the Amazon.

I live among the ribeirinhos, or river dwellers, whose only form of transport is a motorized canoe called a rabeta. It takes excellent balance to get around on one, and in the beginning, I was terrified of stepping into what looked to me like a thin, floating log.

I asked God to give me courage so that I could serve the many people along the river who need medical care. He answered my prayer, and soon I was visiting the river dwellers in their homes.

One day a fellow nurse and I were stopped on the river by a woman who told us that her sister, Maria,* was having an asthma attack. Maria was twenty-five years old and had just given birth to her sixth child eight days before.

My friend knew of someone in a nearby community who had a nebulizer, a device that turns liquid medicine into a mist to treat asthma. We quickly retrieved the nebulizer, but, unfortunately, there was no medicine to go with it. All we had on hand was saline, a solution of water and salt.

As we followed the woman to Maria’s home, I prayed that our patient would be OK. But when we arrived, we found her fighting to breathe.

There was no electricity in Maria’s home to run the nebulizer, so we decided to take her to her sister’s house. We gently laid her on a mattress in our boat and held an umbrella over her face to protect her from the intense sun. Maria was so weak when we arrived at her sister’s home that her brother had to carry her in his arms.

I quickly prepared the nebulizer using our saline solution. “God,” I prayed, “You know that we don’t have the proper medication to treat Maria. Please, Father, turn this saline into medicine that will help Maria breathe.”

Whether God turned our saline solution into medicine or simply opened up Maria’s bronchioles, I do not know. What I do know is that He worked a miracle to save her life. She immediately began to breathe normally and soon regained her strength.

The man who had been shot in the chest with the 12-caliber gun also survived as a result, I believe, of divine intervention.

Not every patient whom I’ve prayed for has been healed, of course. My experiences as a missionary have helped me learn to trust God in those situations. But I’m so thankful that I have been allowed to witness His healing power. He is a God of miracles who surely loves us.

* Name has been changed.

Rosimelia Ferreira de Figueiredo is from Brazil and served as a volunteer missionary nurse for the Northwest Brazil Union Mission.

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