During the summer of 1980 Nat woke up every morning with the call to prayer, which came before 5 am, so I was up with him. It did help me get some more time in with the Lord, and I tried to look at it as an opportunity.
However, the combination of lack of sleep from all the bombs, the ongoing adjustment to culture, the surrounding violence and the pressures of language study made us more weary by the day.
I saw how tired I was when one night Barbara asked me to fill the diaper-laden washing machine with water. This wringer washer came with the apartment and was much better than having none, but had its interesting points.
We had to put water in it with a hose, and to complete a load required running all the clothes through the wringer twice, once after washing and again after rinsing. I would tape my Turkish word lists on the wall and work on them while running the many diapers through the wringer.
That evening I put the water hose into the washer, turned it on and watched carefully until it reached the proper level. Then I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.
After a while Barbara nudged me. “Hmph?” I mumbled groggily.
“Do you hear water running?” she asked.
“I’ll go check,” I said. I swung my feet out of bed and stepped into an inch of water! Then it hit me that I’d brought the water level in the washing machine to the right point, but failed to shut the faucet off! Now this whole end of our apartment was flooded and the rug in the bedroom was soaked.
We leaped out of bed and began to clean things up. I wanted to hang the soaking wet rug over the railing on our balcony, but fortunately Barbara first looked over the edge and saw the glow of our landlord’s cigarette as he sat in the dark on his balcony below us. We spread the rug out elsewhere to dry.
The next day Barbara found Nat lying on his stomach on the balcony, trying to swim in a puddle that was left from our night’s adventures.
One scary and seemingly significant event occurred during the time we lived in that apartment. While we were studying, we heard a yell from the boys’ room and ran to find our older boy lying flat on his back with a safety pin in each hand. He had stuck the pins into the 220 outlet to see what would happen.
Providentially God protected him; he didn’t even get any burns. But from then on he was actively interested in and amazingly competent with electronic devices. We wondered if maybe the shock had crystalized the chips in his blood stream!
That summer of 1980 we pressed on with language study and we also moved. One of the “old timers” who had been denied a new work permit was leaving and was selling all of his furniture. We bought it and moved right into his apartment—the easiest move we ever made!
This apartment was further up the hill, its location ensuring that we’d have better air quality. There was also a nice walled-in yard where the kids could ride their tricycles and play, and the neighbors were already used to foreigners.
I took two year old Nat with me to the new apartment to do some preparation before we moved with our meager belongings. After fixing some outlets, I went to check on Nat and found him with a box full of medicine bottles the previous tenants had left.
Nat had a bottle of pills in his hand with the cap off; the bottle was half empty. Had he swallowed some of them? How many? Were they dangerous? What should I do? I had no idea!
I scooped him up, along with the bottle, and ran to a nearby pharmacy. “No, these are not particularly dangerous,” said the druggist, “that is, he won’t die from them. Should you take him to a doctor? No, I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Relieved, I took him home and told Barbara about it. She was not so convinced that doing nothing was a good idea, especially when Nat began to act a bit tipsy. It was late on Saturday afternoon, so we decided to take him to a nearby hospital that served American servicemen.
When we got there, we were taken right in. The doctor looked at the bottle and said, “Yes, we should get this out of his stomach. I’ll give him something to make him throw up. That should take care of it.”
After Nat had taken the medicine, we sat in the waiting room with a bucket. Nat acted more and more like a drunk, staggering from side to side, laughing happily. As time went on he couldn’t stand any more, so he lay on the floor, his laughter increasing with his inability to walk.
The doctor was dealing with someone who had taken a drug overdose, so it was a while before he came back.
“No results? OK, we will have to pump his stomach. I’ll take him.” Nat laughed some more as the doctor picked him up and carried him away.
When they brought him back half an hour later, he was no longer laughing; he was very subdued.
“He’ll be ok now,” said the doctor. And he was. In fact he was much better. He had had diarrhea for the last three months, fortunately beginning shortly after he was potty trained, but nothing we’d tried had helped. We’d prayed, been to the doctor and kept him on a special diet, but the diarrhea just kept coming.
However, after having his stomach pumped, the diarrhea immediately disappeared. Maybe it was all the medicine he had swallowed, or the cleansing aspect of having his stomach pumped. At any rate, God answered our prayers, using a distressing situation to bless us. Another God sighting.