I started four of the worse medicines I had ever taken, the only known treatment for TB. Dr. Wilson and his wife from Heber Springs, Ar. paid for and sent my medicines to me from the States. I will be forever grateful to them for their kindness to me. The medicine made me so sick all I could do was throw up. From July until early October I ran fever of 103 everyday, day and night. I would shake so hard the kids would pile blankets on me and then the three would lay over me trying to make it stop. I stayed dehydrated because of the fever and vomiting. There were many nights I didn’t sleep at times I felt I might lose my mind from exhaustion. I’m sure you have seen a movie where they depict someone with TB and they look thin and ragged and feverish, well thats what it really looks like, it was called consumption years ago because you truly feel as if something is consuming you. In October of 2011 I went to the hospital weighing 100 pounds. My mother in law had come to see us and help, it overwhelmed her to see me like that. every time she came in my room she would cry, I found myself trying to comfort her even as I gasped for air because talking was so very difficult. I told her if she didn’t stop crying she couldn’t come in my room anymore!!
In December I was back in the hospital but this time much worse. I couldn’t walk, or lift my head, or move my legs in the bed, I had lost all body functions. In less than two weeks time I lost the ability to do anything. The TB was under control, praise the Lord, but that storm I told you about, my other illness was in its place, and it was raging! We were told, I was too weak to live in Coroico, the mold is too strong and had infiltrated my lungs, my heart was damaged and too weak for La Paz! I couldn’t maintain blood pressure any higher than 89/50 and my blood oxygen levels were in the high 70,s to low 80’s which is very low. I remember lying in the hospital and a young Bolivian lady came to see me, she began to cry, I said Jovi, why are you crying? She said, your still here, you haven’t left us, every missionary we know would have left but not you, sister we are all watching! I laughed and said Jovi, I’m just trying to survive! Jovi I promise you this, if I leave Bolivia it will be because God moves me not sickness! Once again we were told without chemo and immune suppression and six more months of TB meds, I would not make it, my condition was too bad. I looked at Kenneth and told him no. I love you and I won’t put you or the kids through that. I knew I wouldn’t survive, I knew I was dying. I could feel it. It’s more than pain, it’s deeper than weakness. It’s something you see in your doctors faces despite their words. I can’t explain it but you just know, it’s as if your body is telling you no more! I knew at this point that doctors and medicine were not the answer. If I was going to make it it would have to be God and Him alone.
Our pastor asked if I wanted to come to the States, but I said, No, I just didn’t have peace to leave. I felt as though I was safer in Bolivia than anywhere in the world because God put me there, I would leave and only leave when He moved my heart. So we loaded our things and headed to lower altitudes, leaving behind our churches and the only real home we had ever known. I was so weak, like a new born baby, absolutely helpless. Kenneth and Kinsey did everything for me. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has changed my clothes because I can’t control my bladder very well. I just cry while she cleans me up, don’t cry mama, she says, I can’t stand to see you cry. Kenneth would hold me in his arms and bathe me I couldn’t even hold my head out of the water. I remember one time in particular, he had bathed me, and was dressing me, I began to cry and say I’m so sorry you have to do this, he looked at me, put his wonderful hands around my face and said, stop it! It’s not so bad, do you know how many men would love to have their wife under their complete control? I couldn’t help but laugh and tell him he was so dumb!! I really didn’t think I had much longer. I could no longer walk or move my body in the bed. I tried but fell and hit head first, I busted my face open, I bled everywhere, Kenneth and I both cried as he tried to stop the bleeding and clean me up. I had reached a place of weakness so great that even opening my eyes made me tired. I didn’t have the strength to even listen to the TV or Radio it just took too much out of me to try. I would lie in bed for hours in silence just thinking and listening to God. There were times when I would think of God’s goodness to me. You see, I had a big warm bed, a wonderful husband, children that helped take care of me but I knew all over Bolivia there were woman who didn’t have those things. I knew they had to work, care for family and struggle through the day with the same disease that was killing me. I would cry out to God for them, that they could have a little of the rest He was giving me. In all those hours of silence I thought about life and what makes it worth living, how I wanted my children to remember me and how I would feel when I saw my savior. I wanted to know my Bible more, I didn’t want to go to heaven having spent more time in front of a computer or TV than I had spent in My Bible, God’s love letter to me. I would rather never watch TV again than let it have more of my time than my Bible. Woah! Sister settle down, don’t get carried away, you say….dying does that to you, it gives perspective like living can never give. I didn’t want to waste my time on things that have no value. I cherished every moment with my children, sad to say they have become very behind in school but I just didn’t have the strength to teach and what time I did feel good I just wanted to spend with laughter, making what memories I could for them. I wanted my life and death to count for something. I wanted people to see God in me! I wanted more time to make a difference. I felt like up until that point everything I had done I had done in my own strength. I felt like God was saying, when are you going to let me work through you? Must I take everything from you before you give me full control? Think about it. How many times do you wake up and bow your knees and say today Lord is yours, fill me, break me, use me, whatever seems right I’m yours. If your honest, your just like me. You wake up and pray and start your day, knowing you got it under control unless something big comes up and even then you want to be a backseat driver!
I didn’t think it was possible for my body to recover, there were so many things wrong with me that if I were to tell you, it would not seem real. the simple fact that I had made it through tuberculosis and the treatment should have strengthened my faith but I still had my doubts. I tried to put on a brave face for my family, but I just knew if God didn’t step in soon I would be gone. Then something began to change. All this time people all over the world had been praying for me, it began to show. I could move my legs, lift my head, I could swallow food without choking, my strength was returning not a lot but enough. I began to move and stand even though my legs would shake. I made myself. This verse comes to mind when I think of it all. Psa 116:8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
In time I could walk not run but walk but I was ok with that. I made myself get out of that wheelchair, I wanted to prove the doctors wrong! I still can’t dress myself or take a bath without help, or fix my hair, or do many other things like put socks on but I’m alive not only alive but blessed, I have no idea why or for how long the Lord will let me live but I intend to enjoy every minute! My prayer is that this time around I let Him have control. I have never questioned God that I am aware of, but I have wondered why, is it something I’ve done or need to change, or is this just His will or providence for my life? Then one day while reading the book of Job, he showed me why and it was the sweetest thing. Job 23:16. He maketh my heart soft! All I’ve been through was for me, to make me better, to take that monster of pride that I battle so much with. To give me a soft heart to, you see, you can’t comfort unless you’ve been comforted. You can’t understand heartbreak if your heart’s never been broken, you can’t understand pain if you’ve never hurt, you can’t comprehend loss if you’ve never lost something. You cannot understand sickness when you are well. You will not understand need if you’ve never been needy. It’s impossible to understand helplessness until you’ve been helpless. So much of the time we pray for God to use us, we want to be used, there’s only one problem with that, God likes broken vessels! He won’t fill you if your already full of yourself, believe me I’ve tried. I have always wanted to be used by God, I believe he’s been getting me ready! Each time He breaks a part of me, He replaces it with Christ. That’s His goal in the end, that I look like His dear Son. Unfortunately, I’m not made of wet, pliable clay, I’m made of clay that is already hard and set, so each time He works, something in me must break. I think that is why Paul said I die daily, working on a dead man is a lot less painful! I know whatever time I have left He will continue to break and mold me to His imagine. I have spent years being broken by the world and all it’s sin and heartache. I would rather spend my remaining time being filled and being broken by My Lord, so that one day in glory I can look like Jesus, the lover of my soul! Would you change anything, you ask? I can say with a hundred percent surety that the only thing I would change is my time spent in fellowship with my Lord
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. When I think back over the years and our time spent in Bolivia my heart swells with joy. All I have to do is close my eyes and I see their faces. Faces that would have never known of God’s love if He hadn’t sent us. That He counted us worthy to go and tell of His Son. That God could take my broken body and use it on the mission field means more than you will ever know. I’m so thankful for all God has done in and through our lives. I’m thankful my children have had the privilege to suffer for him if even in a small way, it has taught them who He is and how He works and in the end that’s all that matters.
Jer 9:23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
Jer 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
If you leave here tonight thinking of Angie Ellzey then I have failed. I fall so very short of just doing my reasonable service! I want you to see God and what He has done in and through me. All I’ve told you today has no value if you walk away thinking of me. I want you to leave here thinking of My God and how you can better serve Him. I want you to want Him like you never have. I want you to serve Him like you never could. I want you to yield to Him even if it cost you everything. I want you to learn that you really can do all things through Christ. If I have learned anything it is that life is short, you have but just a few years to show God and others, how much Christ means to you. Don’t squander what you have been given. Don’t just try to survive, He has given you the means to thrive!