I’m sure many of you have read this story. I had read it in the past, but when we received Randy Alcorn’s newsletter it was in there and my husband read it to us as a family. Once again we marveled at the Lord’s provision and His big picture view of things.
Here is the story:
THE HOT WATER BOTTLE – A True Story By Helen Roseveare, Missionary to Africa
One night, in Central Africa, I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all that we could do, she died leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying, two-year-old daughter.
We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive. We had no incubator. We had no electricity to run an incubator, and no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts.
A student-midwife went for the box we had for such babies and for the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly, in distress, to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. “…and it is our last hot water bottle!” she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk; so, in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over a burst water bottle. They do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. All right,” I said, “Put the baby as near the fire as you safely can; sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.”
The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with many of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chilled. I also told them about the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt consciousness of our African children. “Please, God,” she prayed, “send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, the baby’ll be dead; so, please send it this afternoon.” While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added by way of corollary, ” …And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?” As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, “Amen?” I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything: The Bible says so, but there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending a parcel from the homeland. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator!
Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time that I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large twenty-two pound parcel! I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone; so, I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then, there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children began to look a little bored. Next, came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – – that would make a nice batch of buns for the weekend. As I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be? I grasped it, and pulled it out. Yes, “A brand-new rubber, hot water bottle!” I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, “If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!” Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone: She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, “Can I go over with you, Mummy, and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?”
That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday School class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. One of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child — five months earlier in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it “That afternoon!” “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
Helen Roseveare a doctor missionary from England to Zaire, Africa, told this as it had happened to her in Africa. She shared it in her testimony on a Wednesday night at Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Quite a story, right? After Dan read it to us I began looking for what I began to call Hot Water Bottle Miracles.
We recently attended a family summit that was taught on just what we need to be working through with our young adults. The planning for this began months and months ago – only the Lord could have known that it would be so relevant right now for us.
I marveled at the timing of IT classes for my son. Just as he finished the assignments we were requiring him to do, the door opened for him to be part of a class that seemed to be tailor-made for his needs, and they were to be taught by Godly men. This class must have been in the hearts and minds of these men even as Eric worked to finish his required subjects. Then it became available, and Eric was able to sign up for the first class offered.
Then there was the open door for one-on-one graphic design classes for one of our daughters. Once again the timing was perfect and we see the Lord’s hand on this provision. This is still a work in process and we are watching to see what the Lord will do in our daughter’s life, and also in the life of the young mother who is teaching her.
With these two things falling into place, I asked our other daughter if there wasn’t something she wanted to study. She said there was – a very specific type of art class – but she hadn’t been able to find anything that looked like what she wanted. I’m no artist, so I won’t even attempt to explain what type of class that is, but the very next day I got a bundle of the post cards that families selling homeschool curriculums put together and send out. Since our children are all young adults and finished with high school we haven’t been looking for any curriculum, so I typically just toss them in the recycling. For some strange reason I tore open the package and began glancing at each one before tossing it in the recycling. Once I even tossed the whole stack into the bag, but for some strange reason I picked it up again and continued my very cursory glance at each one before tossing it. The LAST card in the stack was for art classes. I took it to my daughter and she went online to check it out. It looks like just what she was wanting. We’ve sent for information and hopefully she will be able to study something that her heart has desired for some time.
As I mentioned in my last post, we are currently going through a rough time. Very unexpectedly we found out that our eight year old dog has a very aggressive form of cancer and could die at any time. At most they give him 3 weeks to 3 months.
Having started this article before we knew anything about this, I was reminded to look for the hidden miracles – even in this.
I’ve come up with several.
Last week was a special gift from the Lord for us. Dan and Eric were supposed to be in the BWCA camping and the girls and I were to be alone on the N. Shore. For some reason Dan just never got the trip planned. This is so unlike him – the BWCA is his most favorite place and he and Eric have gone every year for years. Instead we had six days together, not knowing Strider was sick, doing all the things Strider loved most – being with us all together, swimming in Lake Superior, hiking and sniffing all the great outdoor smells, going to the Fishermen’s festival and having tons of people stop to pet him. Thank you Lord!
For that last 4 years we’ve had our churches annual picnic at our home. This year’s picnic is scheduled for August 21st. We have a huge yard that easily accommodates the 150 people who usually attend. Due to all the rain we’ve had this year we have standing water in our picnic area, so alternate plans have already been worked on because it doesn’t look like our land will be dry enough to have it here. Thank you Lord!
We were planning to celebrate our great granddaughter’s third birthday on August 14th with all the family coming here for lunch. After the news about Strider we thought about cancelling it but after praying decided to go ahead with our plans. When I called our granddaughter to discuss the plans she was so glad that they would be able to have time to say goodbye to Strider. It actually never occurred to me that he has been a big part of a lot of people’s lives outside our immediate family. The Lord didn’t forget and already had plans in place. Thank you Lord!
We did end up putting our beloved Strider down just eleven days after he was diagnosed. We really didn’t expect him to fail so quickly, but even in that we are finding water bottle miracles in place. We have a wonderful vet. She and her staff walked us through this in a very kind, loving and compassionate way. Our daughter’s best friend arrived for a visit just an hour before we received the diagnosis. How grateful we have been for her kind ministrations to our family during this time.
Isn’t God good? I think I often miss His Hot Water Bottle Miracles because I’m not looking for them – or I take His provision for granted. When I think how far in advance the Lord has been preparing these blessings it just seems unfathomable – my finite mind can’t wrap itself around this completely.
Do you have any Hot Water Bottle Miracles you’d like to share? Put it in the comments so we can all see what the Lord has done.
Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” NKJV
Finding Joy in the Journey,
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