Dear Family and Friends,
“Miraculous”, is the description for so much of what we are experiencing. To arrive here in South Africa after a rather lengthy plane ride and be able to be look into the eyes of our family and gently hug and converse, to see the awful evidence of the accident trauma, yet know that truly there was and continues to be divine intervention, to meet the earthy angels who have walked into our lives here and are yet willing to do more…each day is uncharted territory for us all and we are trying to work out the right course.
As of right now, here are the circumstances. Wednesday evening just as we arrived in Johannesburg, Seth Wiggins met us at the airport on his way back to Oregon. He was able to get a flight out with “miles” and the timing seemed right since we could try to smooth in the transition. He has now arrived safely back home and resuming life there. Never has there been a better and more dedicated friend.
Prior to our arrival here, friends in Oregon had contacted friends of theirs here in South Africa, Kristen and Brady Southwick. Because the family (wife and family) has already moved back to the States, their home was available and they most graciously invited us to use it as a base of operation while needed. So at the same time we were arriving here, Brady was leaving for a business trip to the States and we were able to meet at the airport, have a warm embrace, receive their house keys and hopped into the car where a driver ably winded his way through huge Johannesburg. Never had we met, and yet he and his family had learned of the need and offered their now empty home and use of their car. We were met with a delicious roast beef dinner and welcomed by another loving family who also had been in need of a home for a few days while they were awaiting their new home to be vacated. They have been most gracious as we share this home and meals together. Their two little dogs have been a wonderful distraction for Cali and Tommy and getting acquainted has enriched our stay.
Seth is amazing in his desire and effort to recover. The physiotherapists are particularly impressed with his progress as were we, to think of how far he has come in the 3+ weeks since the accident. Great care must be used to transition in and out of bed but he is doing it and has no qualms about getting about for periods of time. Walking, stairs, eating at the table with his head resting on the wall for added support are all part of his normal day. Friday became his farewell day at the hospital. Turns out, a hospital is a good place to be for the much needed critical care but not a very restful place when long term rest is best. He was happy to bid his goodbyes to friends, nurses, and even the doctor. We have to admit the doctor seemed a bit rough on him with little jabs to Seth’s unprotected torso, guess they had worked out a fun rapport over the stay there. We are so grateful for the years of training and experience that Dr. Van Heerdan has that has guided Seth’s recovery and has been so much less invasive than originally thought necessary.
We left the hospital driving gingerly along to George and Carolyn Bonnet’s home where Seth would take up residence to be near his outpatient rehabilitation center. George is the Director of Temporal Affairs for the LDS Church in Africa (dealing with all building and maintenance of Church facilities). It was perilous for all of us to have Seth in the car – you are just so aware of every bump in the road, every stop and acceleration, every turn in the traffic congested city of Johannesburg – but we made it safely and got settled in to their lovely home where Seth has a private room and either Annie or Tom trade off being with him, the other being at the other home with Caroline and the kids. Seth is appreciative to be out of the hospital and is adjusting to the new environment and bed. After 3 weeks of hospitals and going from death’s edge to walking under his own power out of the hospital, he is doing better than anyone could have expected. It is a courageous and painful path but we are so grateful for every person that has attended to and encouraged Seth and for his own terrific attitude along the way. We were reflecting on the miraculous protection and recovery he’s had and brushed up against the inevitable question of why God has blessed him so greatly but did not prevent the accident in the first place. Seth tenderly said that he’d never asked that question, he was just so grateful for the blessings experienced and the good that has come from this for so many.
Caroline has, of course, carried a particularly heavy burden during all of this. She has held together a struggling and displaced family, all of who are also recovering from injuries to one degree or another while living in one new house after another. She had hoped to be flying back home to Zambia with Cali and Tommy this week but got further bad news on Monday from a surgeon that her heel was not healing properly and she needs to undergo an operation on Wednesday (Aug. 9th) to attempt further repair. So one more time, this valiant woman will put things on hold and go through another setback in schedule, health, and family. She needs our prayers as much as does Seth.
We are all indebted to so many for their kindnesses, from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg and throughout the US and other countries. Your notes of encouragement, love, and prayers are all deeply appreciated. Thank you.
Love from “Joburg” (as they call it here),
Annie and Tom
(just a note to all: we have limited use of internet and so much happening here that we are not able to respond to everyone who writes. Just know that we would if we could and we do appreciate your thoughtfulness.)