The building was full of people hustling about. Makeshift rooms had been built with thick blankets hanging from the ceiling. Medication was being sorted in the room beside me. I could hear people shouting outside, completely filling the dirt streets of the Egyptian village. No where did I hear English being spoken, only Arabic, the native language and a language that I only knew about 5 words of. A smile lay across my face from a heart full of excitement and contentment as my new friend, Joanne and I awaited our first patient.
This all happened last year, March of 2020. Covid-19 had just begun to show it’s threatening power to the world and Egypt had seen it’s first cases. My family wondered if my group would still go but we all knew we would. God had brought us to this moment and we.were.going.!
So there I was, in a small village in Egypt for the second time in my life. I had fallen in love with the country and the people for the first time in the spring of 2018. I couldn’t get enough so I came back again. I had wanted to come again in the spring of 2019, but my nursing baby wouldn’t let me get away. Joanne and I had met the day before. She was serving as a midwife with a ministry in the Middle East and had joined us for the week to be my sidekick in the Women’s Health clinic that we would be offering while we were there.
Joanne was (and is) a beautiful soul and I enjoyed her immediately. We shared stories about our lives and talked shop as we waited for the patients to start rolling in. She knew a fair amount of Arabic so we were planning to be able to converse with our patients through her. Interpreters were hard to come by, especially women interpreters but we didn’t need one so we would be the dream team! We would be able to see twice as many women because we wouldn’t need to spend as much time interpreting! It was going to be great!
Our hearts leapt as our first patient entered the room and we were able to address her concerns. But as patient after patient came in, it began to be clear that while Joanne’s Arabic was good, it was proving to be a challenge for her to fully understand what the women were explaining. Our leaping hearts began to sink as more and more Joanne would turn to me and say, “I don’t understand.” And I was as useless as the p in raspberry. No help whatsoever!
I could see the frustration in Joanne’s eyes as she went back and forth with one particular woman trying desperately to understand what she was saying. We felt hopeless. She turned to me and said, “Is there a way we could get an interpreter?”
Earlier in the day, I had been a part of a conversation about interpreters. We didn’t have enough for all of our rooms and we had no females. “I can ask,” I said to Joanne, already knowing the answer. We couldn’t help our patients and pray over them if we could understand them.
What were we going to do?
I stood up and went to the place where the blanket met the wall. In my mind, I felt desperate but I was already starting with my go-to “fix-it” mentality. We could have a male interpreter stand on the other side of the wall. No, that wouldn’t work. We could see if a woman from the church would help. No, that wouldn’t work either. Continuing to muddle through for the day was going to be our best option and we would request a female interpreter for the next day and hope for the best.
But without uttering a word of need to the Lord, a head popped through the curtain and said, “Do you all need a female interpreter?”
My mouth dropped and my heart soared! “Yes!” Joanne and I both yelled in unison!
In Matthew 6:8, Jesus says, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Did He ever! And in Romans 8, we read that, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
God showed up so clearly in that moment! I was filled with wonder over the One who knew exactly what we needed and provided lavishly for us. God provided Sara.
Sara walked into our little space in that moment and had no idea that she was the answer to our prayer that we hadn’t even spoken. She was the answer to our weakness. She was the answer to how the Spirit interceded for us.
Not only was Sara the answer to our need, but Sara brought infectious joy! God had seen our need, He provided for our need and He provided in a way that was better and more beautiful than Joanne and I could have asked for.
When has God provided for you in a way that was better than you imagined? When has God answered a need without you even speaking it? I am so thankful that God knows our every thought and our every need. In this moment, God answered our unspoken request immediately and tangibly. In other times, God’s answer comes after years of waiting. And sometimes His answer looks different than we expect, but we can be sure that God does answer.
God always answers.
And the Holy Spirit can be trusted to intercede on our behalf even when we don’t have the words to express ourselves. He does.
Over the next few days working together, Sara, Joanne and I bonded over our love for Jesus and our desire to help the women who sat before us. The three of us will forever be united over our experience together. But more than that, we will be united for eternity, singing joyously to our King, through our sisterhood in Christ.
Holy Spirit, thank you for interceding for us.