Taking the Torch

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“One time I slept on that bench right there,” Bo said, pointing to a hard, backless bench on the hospital grounds. “The mosquitoes ate me up!”

Bo and Kristen Hutchison and I were visiting a large hospital in Phnom Penh. Crowds of people waited on the grass and sidewalks or leaned against pillars. Some were eating lunch; others napped. All had one thing in common—their family member or friend was in the hospital. The Hutchisons were giving me a tour of the medical facilities they frequent when bringing patients to the capital. Bo often makes the four-hour drive to the hospital to bring Great River people who have medical needs that are more serious than home remedies or the local clinics can handle. Sometimes he drives their lifeless bodies back to their village. It’s an exhausting job, but Bo has helped countless villagers who are too afraid or too poor to make the trip on their own. He also advocates for them at the hospital, insisting they get the free healthcare they deserve due to their poverty, or kindly requesting that the doctors do their best to help his sick friends.

We walked by the emergency department and peeked inside. Several women near the door were crying hysterically. The grief on their faces told of the news they had just received.

We drove all over town that day, and everywhere we went, Bo recognized people or shared kind words with strangers. I pinned each location on my Google Maps app for future reference. Kristen shared stories and added her advice, which I tucked away in my head for later. I was going to inherit this job, and I wanted to do it well.

The Hutchisons are preparing for their permanent return to the States. Though this news saddens me—we’ve bonded so well and are going to miss them dearly—I know that they have helped so many people throughout their time here, and God will use them powerfully wherever they go. It stresses me to think of taking on Bo’s burden of healthcare provider and advocate for the Great River people, but I know that God will enable me. For now, I’m soaking up the knowledge Bo shares and working on my language fluency. I pray that we can properly carry the torch the Hutchisons are handing us and continue this hard but rewarding work among the Great River people.

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