You don’t have to call it a miracle if you don’t want to, but I’m going to call it one.
Each Teen Missions (TMI) team is on the field for 4-5 weeks. At the end of that time, teams go to a week long “debrief” before returning home. A number of teams attend each debrief. My team’s debrief was at the TMI base in Ndola, Zambia. We attended debrief with the two other Zambia teams. I’m telling you this story about Abner because he has started his “100 days” until he comes home countdown.
As part of the debrief program, each of the teams puts on an hour or so long presentation which shares, in part, about the team’s history. Leaders are generally involved as well, even if in a very brief way. Our presentation started with some Boot Camp stories. One of these stories was about our first “team S.B.” (An S.B. is a kind of punishment. You “serve” your S.B. by losing free time and working instead. If a leader is the one to get the S.B. the entire team has to serve it.) Our first team S.B. was given to us well into Boot Camp on leaders’ day on the obstacle course. We were given the S.B. because a leader was dropped attempting to scale the 12 foot wall. That leader? Abner. Abner, our head leader. Abner, one of the obstacle course judges! Soooo, one of our presentation skits was recreating that “hands up eyes up” moment of failure. It was all too realistic in that it appeared that Abner was dropped again. Only this time, instead of landing in soft sand, he landed on concrete. And hit his head. His head bounced back and sent a loud popping sound throughout the room.
As everyone sucked in their collective breath, Abner grabbed his head, but then he laughed and shook it off and got up. He came over and stood next to me. I felt the back of his head and could already feel a lump forming there. He assured me that he felt fine and I continued to watch the presentation (which was awesome, by the way). About 15 minutes later, a very disoriented and frightened looking Abner came up behind where I was sitting and said “Mama Lou, I can’t remember anything!” At first I thought he was yanking my chain. Afterall, he knew who *I* was, right? Well, he wasn’t a good enough actor to pull off the frightened look in his eyes so I knew something truly was wrong. I took him outside and began to try to sort out what was going on.
“We’re at debrief?” he asked incredulously. “We’re in Ethiopia already?” (his last team debriefed in Ethiopia. WE were in Zambia.) I attempted to reorient him. It didn’t go well. He kept talking about being freaked out that he was already in Ethiopia. He had absolutely no memory of anything from the past week. I did a quick neurological exam on him which yielded nothing disconcerting. I wasn’t overly worried about things at this point. I figured he’d get his memory back and that we’d probably just have to monitor him until he did or until his condition worsened. I didn’t have any idea how long it might take for his memory to return. After 10 or 15 minutes of making no progress with him, I was up for my part of the presentation. I decided to stop our presentation and to let everyone know what was going on at that time. We sat a very upset and confused Abner in a chair in the middle of the room. We laid hands on him and prayed. The kids were all very scared to see Abner looking so frightened and talking like a bit like a crazy person.
I took him back outside to try the reorientation process again. Almost immediately he began to get his memory back! Within 20 minutes he began to laugh and to look like himself. He lost the frightened look. We worked our way back from his approaching me and telling me he couldn’t remember anything through the whole week. He remembered everything. Except the actual hitting the head event. (I don’t know if he ever remembered that! I need to ask him.)
Anyhow, twenty minutes after praying for him, he said he felt fine, and he looked fine. I had him go back in to see the kids so that they could see he was 1) okay and 2) see that their prayers had been answered almost instantaneously. Abner was still a bit foggy for a day, but within 24 hours he truly was fine. Except he was worried that he’d “suffer problems with (his) brain.” He asked me if I thought he’d have permanent problems with his brain probably a hundred times. Poor Abner.
Abner is mostly fine. He’s in Mozambique. Suffering post-concussion headaches. But otherwise his usual insane self.
He’ll be back stateside in February. Which is probably none too soon for his mother who is probably still worried sick about her baby Abner losing his mind…
(P.S. I am sorry if I used references that mean absolutely nothing to you! There’s so much background information that could be given. But the point of this story is not that you understand all about debrief and boot camp and S.B.s, but that you get an idea of the miraculous nature of Abner’s recovery.)
Hurry home, and be safe, Abner!
This photo was stolen from Abner’s MySpace and uploaded to Flickr!