My roommate Brooke and I are pretty dorky. We watch sunsets on rooftops, have “roommate dates” at Chipotle and jam out to “No Matter Where You Are” by Us the Duo. So when her dad organized a mission trip to Mexico and invited me along, we excitedly labeled it “roommates’ first trip.”
The first few days were magical. We sang Christmas carols in Spanish, guzzled down Mexican coke and shared the gospel with elementary school kids.
About halfway through the week, Brooke’s stomach started to hurt. I went into diagnosis-mode and credited it to a lack of sleep or bad tacos. But her stomach ache persisted.
She stayed in our motel while the rest of the team performed other concerts and serenaded other church contacts. When we finished our route, we got a phone call: Brooke’s pain escalated. Our missionary friend tried calling the family doctor but it was almost midnight – no one was picking up.
Her dad told me the situation and asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital.
“Yes,” I said. No hesitation.
Brooke’s mom laid in the bed next to her crying, and waited for us to pick them up and take them to the nearest Mexican hospital. We rushed to the motel, ignoring whatever speed limits there may have been on the highway. She limped into the car, we sped her off to the hospital and then watched her hobble through the emergency room doors.
When her sister Jessie and I laid down on the waiting room couch to sleep, we thought it was a virus. We woke up to something else.
Her parents gently nudged my shoulder and we sat up, rubbing the sleep out of our eyes. Her mom started to sit down on the square glass table as her dad told us Brooke may have a tumor.
The glass shattered.
No, literally, the glass table shattered. Brooke’s mom fell through the center of the waiting room table and upon hearing Brooke may have cancer, we burst into laughter.
Then they told us she had to go into emergency surgery. We checked the time: almost 2 a.m. It was Brooke’s 19th birthday.
Her sister burst into tears and I just held her, tucking her hair behind her ears while I stared at the tile floor silent.
I watched Brooke experience a lot of firsts: first boyfriend, first college, first job. I never expected her first I.V., first sonogram, first surgery all in the same night in central Mexico.
The girl hadn’t even gotten her wisdom teeth out.
We prayed and talked about praying and asked friends back in the U.S. to pray. The Lord answered our prayers in the form of a specialty fertility surgeon who came for Brooke in those ungodly hours.
We found out later it wasn’t a tumor, but a non-cancerous cyst on her ovary that had burst. But they could fix it. They could fix her.
We cried and hugged and cried again. Then we prayed again, this time giving thanks to God.
When they rolled Brooke post-surgery into her recovery room, we hugged her and stared at her face. She wore a soft smile and joked about how the doctors cut off her anklets for the surgery. I couldn’t believe the joy she contained in her little 5-foot-4-inch body wrapped in the first hospital gown she’d ever worn.
The next day, the whole mission team came in and we sang worship songs with her and praised God for her recovering body.
Besides learning random medical terminology in Spanish, Brooke’s favorite worship song (“Ever Be” by Bethel) and that no breakfast spot is open at 7:30 a.m., her Big Fat Mexican Surgery taught me more than a few things. I learned the power of prayer, what joy looks like in trials and how to comfort hurting people.
And most importantly, I learned to never ever sit on a glass table.