I had a phone call a few weeks ago from someone who was organising a mission in Cardiff and the Vale. The Reach Out Mission was run jointly by OM and OAC and involved a team drawn from across the world and was scheduled to work with six local churches. The point of the call was that with a few weeks to go, one of the churches had to drop out which meant there was one team with nowhere to stay. The plan was for the teams to stay with people from the local churches during the two weekends and at Hebron Hall during the week where they would receive training etc. They would then be available to work alongside the churches for their mission events.
With such short notice our involvement consisted providing some accommodation for the six people who would then help out with our youth events and the Open Day (more to follow on this). Our team consisted of Dean and Andrea both form Indiana, Sarah from Tennessee, Celine from London, Alex from Milton Keynes and Dave, the team leader from Kent. It was really good to meet people from other places and to share fellowship with them.
Last Monday, Andrea saw a part of South Wales that she would probably like to forget. We were playing a game in Genesis where two teams compete to collect balls placed in between them. Andrea and the others joined in and when her number was called, showed good speed in collecting the ball, turning around and heading back to her place for the point. Unfortunately, on the way back, her shoe slipped off causing her to trip and fall headfirst into the wall with a sickening smack.
For a moment, everyone froze, afraid to see the damage. Andrea lost consciousness for a few seconds and then was in great pain. When it was clear that she could move her arms and legs, she lay still for some minutes and a decision was made to take her to the Accident and Emergency Department of our local hospital which is only about a mile away from the church building. During the journey it became clear that Andrea had lost much of her memory and had no idea what she was doing in Wales.
On our arrival, I instinctively checked the notice board for the estimated waiting time, telling myself that Monday would probably be a quiet night. My hopes were dashed when I saw the estimated time displayed was 3.5 hours! People were queuing out into the corridor. Filling in the admission forms was ‘fun’ as well since Andrea had no medical records in this country, a foreign address and having only met her the previous day, we were of very little help. Back at the church, many of the young people were traumatised by the events and they gathered together to pray for Andrea.
As we waited, Mike chatted to Andrea and slowly she began to piece together the facts and when Laura, the medical officer from Andrea’s church in the States arrived, she was able to talk through much more of the missing information. All of this was just as well since we received no help from the hospital. There were obvious concerns of a potential brain injury with memory loss and a loss of consciousness. I am like most British people a fan of the National Health Service but this was a very poor advertisement and I felt ashamed that a guest to our country, as well as residents, were treated so poorly. Andrea waited an hour an twenty minutes before being assessed in triage. As is so often the case, the staff themselves were first class, Andrea saw a doctor a few minutes after her initial assessment and was checked over and diagnosed with having a mild concussion and told to take it easy.
Looking back I’m so grateful that things were not so much worse. There was potential for a serious brain injury, neck damage as well as the fact that Andrea’s face had ended up really close to the sharp end of a radiator. We have to be so thankful things were not much more serious. As it was, Andrea travelled home with a souvenir from Wales, a black eye. I wonder if she told her husband and her friends at church, ‘that was some tough mission trip to Wales!’
I’m thankful too that people will travel half way around the world to tell Welsh people about Jesus.
On the plus side, Andrea was deemed to have won the point for her team though in future we recommend touching the wall with a hand rather diving at it headfirst!