Gavin is in Bangkok, Thailand with his family. The family wants to help crippled Willychai, Somchit’s son. Mom asks Dr. Carlsen if he can do anything. After two surgeries, the families watch in the hospital room as Dr. Carlsen removes the bandages. Will Willychai be able to walk again?
Dr. Carlsen unwrapped Willychai’s leg. It was much smaller and skinnier than the other leg. Dr. Carlsen massaged it for a few minutes.
“OK, now let’s see if he can stand on it,” Dr. Carlsen said to Somchit.
She turned to Willychai and spoke softly to him in Thai. Willychai looked at Dr. Carlsen who nodded and motioned to him. Leaning on his mother, Willychai eased off of the bed and stood with his good leg on the floor. Slowly he brought his bum leg down to rest on the cold tile floor.
“Now have him put some weight on it,” Dr. Carlsen swept his arm toward the window. “Have him try to walk over there.”
Again Somchit murmured to her son. Pressing slowly until his foot was flat on the floor, he then took a limping step.
The room erupted with exclamations of joy and relief. Somchit urged him forward. He continued to limp across the room as tears trickled down her cheeks. Mom put her arm around Somchit’s shoulders. Willychai was walking!
Dad cleared his throat. “It’s nothing less than a miracle.” Reaching out his hand, he pumped Dr. Carlsen’s vigorously. “Thank you,” he said in a coarse, but strong voice.
Over the next few weeks and months, Willychai entered into activities that strengthened his bum leg. Years later, Gavin would actually see Willychai running and competing in a soccer game!
Richard had left months ago to return to the United States with his family. So the weekends were lonelier without his buddy. But when summer arrived, he met Rick, a student from Far Eastern Academy. Located in Singapore, this school was where missionaries’ kids from all over the world went.
“So what’s academy like?” Gavin asked one day as he threw the football to Rick.
“Well, you know everyone’s name in the school within two weeks!” Rick stated.
“No way!” Gavin said unbelieving. He thought of the hundreds of students in just his ninth grade class. During the course of the year, he hadn’t learned all their names!
“So do you play sports?” Gavin probed.
“Dean Eggers is our boys’ dean and our P.E. teacher.” Rick reached out for a pass. “He drills us like a sergeant. We play soccer, baseball, football. He doesn’t bother to keep score, but we have fun.”
“What events do you have?” Gavin asked.
“There’s the Boys Club trip to Port Dixon,” Rick closed his eyes. “Ahhh, the beach, the sun, the water—it’s great! And I went on the Silver Award Hike this last spring.”
“Silver Award Hike?” Gavin questioned.
“Yeah, you have to qualify by going through a battery of training exercises—jumping rope 300 times without stopping, running three miles—stuff like that.” Rick held the ball for a moment. “Then if you qualify, you go for a ten-mile back-packing hike over the weekend into the Malaysian jungle.”
Gavin’s heart accelerated at that. “What else?” Gavin’s questions continued.
“If you’re interested in girls,” Rick gave him a sideways glance and grinned, “the
student body association and the girls’ and boys’ clubs plan datenights, banquets, and other events where you can ask a girl.”
Gavin thought of all the Friday night football games, Teen Club dances, and Saturday events that he’d passed up in high school to honor Christ. What would it be like to actually be able to join into planned school events?
“I suppose Sabbath afternoons are snooze time,” Gavin thought out loud.
“No, actually we sign up to go door-to-door with literature, lead out in branch Sabbath School, give Bible studies, or do airport witnessing.” They were sitting in the shade of a tree now. “It’s alright,” Rick nodded.
Gavin’s imagination soared. But of course, there was no use in even considering it. In Dad’s opinion, the public school system was the only option for gaining a serious education. It was only mom’s insistence that succeeded in having Lindsey enrolled in the Ekamai Adventist School for the missionaries’ children. Besides, Gavin had his books, schedule, and locker key—he was already registered for classes at the high school on Monday.
That night Gavin was just preparing to brush his teeth when Dad called him into his office.
Removing his glasses, Dad looked at Gavin. “What would you like for your fifteenth birthday?”
Gavin was speechless. Dad was careful with his money and Gavin wasn’t accustomed to his asking him for ideas on how to spend it.
After a few moments of awkward silence, Dad asked, “How would you like to go
to Far Eastern Academy this year?”
Gavin was as stunned as if he’d just received a left hook to his chin in a boxing match. When he came to his senses, he asked cautiously, “For real?” Dad was a tease and maybe this was just a joke.
“Yes, son, it’s for real—if you want to,” Dad replied.
Gavin exploded from his chair. “Yes!” he punched his toothbrush into the air. “When do I leave? I can’t believe it! Shall I go pack?”
Dad chuckled at his exuberance. “We have some arrangements to make first, I guess.”
The first important arrangement was concerning the academy’s present policy. It was originally started and maintained for the purpose of educating missionaries’ children. Would they accept the son of a civilian working for the U.S. Navy Department?
Mom made some phone calls. Within days, they got the news.
“The school board agreed to accept Gavin!” Mom announced. Two miracles, Gavin thought. Dad offering him the chance to go to academy and then the academy making an exception in their policy. There was one more arrangement that needed to be made by Wednesday.
“It sure would be nice to fly out with the kids that go to FEA from Bangkok,” Gavin expressed to his Mom. “But how can we ever get an airline ticket on the same flight at this late date?”
Mom put her hand on his shoulder. “Gavin, don’t you believe God will work it out if it’s for the best?”
Gavin thought about the worship text they’d read that seemed to fit this situation, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
He nodded at Mom. “I guess I’ll let God handle it while I go pack.”