Jungle House Call: Malnasan’s Foot Funeral

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It looked a lot worse! Now, three months later, about 50 percent of Malnasan’s foot was black—dead from the gangrenous infection. Not only had the gangrene progressed, but he had lost a lot of weight and strength since I had last seen him.

Previously, Malnasan’s son Kityun had sought help for his father at the clinic. PAMAS flew Malnasan to the hospital, but he refused amputation. Then he was flown to his home deep in the jungle after completing his antibiotics.

Now, Malnasan had a change of heart and again sought help at our clinic. I am so thankful for the mercy of God—giving us time to repent and receive a second chance!

Daniel with PAMAS was happy to fly Malnasan to our Mountain View Farm. I helped Malnasan bathe, and Carrine, one of our Filipino missionaries, brought some clean clothes for him. We then fed Malnasan some rice and fish for lunch. Afterward, we prayed together before taking him to our local government hospital. To our surprise, since it is much more convenient to have the patients admitted near our home base, they admitted Malnasan after some testing in the emergency room. However, the next day, they transferred him to the larger government hospital in Puerto Princessa.

As the Sabbath began, and with the sirens blaring, Malnasan, his son Sumping, and I sped down the road in the ambulance. Upon arrival, Malnasan was taken inside for assessment while Sumping and I waited outside, listening to the Gospel of John in the Palawano language. The hours lengthened far into the night, so Sumping and I tried to get a little sleep on the crowded tile floor of the waiting shed outside the hospital. Now and then, hospital staff would call our names to fill out paperwork, interrupting our rest.

Sumping received his negative COVID-19 test result around 4:00 a.m., and the hospital cleared him to visit his dad. After I woke up, my friends Alvin and Emmie Peterson graciously invited me over for morning worship and breakfast. Once my own COVID-19 testing results came back, I returned to check in on Malnasan and Sumping in the large but quiet male medical ward, where Sumping and I got a much-needed Sabbath nap in the empty beds.

The highlight of the day was continuing to listen to the Gospel of John with Sumping while Malnasan rested. We heard the entire gospel that weekend, and Sumping seemed to enjoy it. We also listened online to Pastor Dwight Nelson of Pioneer Memorial Church, and I did my best to translate it into Palawano.

On Monday, I left to attend to other matters at Brooke’s Point but promised to return in time for the surgery. The orthopedic doctor saw Malnasan and scheduled him for a Wednesday amputation. Tuesday night, I arrived back at the hospital, thankful for the opportunity to worship with them again. We read how Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus, and I encouraged Malnasan that if he trusted in Jesus, he could run again in heaven one day.

On Wednesday, things did not go as planned. Malnasan was anemic, and there was not enough O+ blood available. He also needed an ultrasound the hospital could not provide, so we arranged this at another hospital before I returned to Brooke’s Point for our Thanksgiving meal with fellow missionaries and missionary friends from PAMAS.

Malnasan was returned to the hospital in Puerto Princessa after the ultrasound, and on Friday, enough O+ blood was found for his operation. As Sabbath began, Sumping and I started listening to another sermon. Not too far into it, Malnasan’s surgery was over, and they transported him to a room in the orthopedic ward. The nurse then had Sumping sign papers to dispose of Malnasan’s foot—the patient’s responsibility, not the hospital’s.

On Sabbath morning, Malnasan was awake and doing fine, by God’s grace. But the dead foot needed to be buried. Far from Malnasan’s home in the jungle and with no way to bury the foot, I called a friend for advice. She coordinated the foot’s embalming so as to not be a safety hazard. That afternoon, I drove back to Brooke’s Point with the boxed foot in the back of the vehicle. Thankfully, the next day the Barangay captain let us bury the foot in the local cemetery near the base of the mountains where Malnasan lives.

Three weeks after Malnasan’s surgery, most of his wounds have healed. He is taking antibiotics and receiving dressing changes for those that have not. I am thankful God gave us this opportunity to minister to Malnasan and his family. Please pray for his continued recovery and that faith and love for Jesus might grow in his heart and family.

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