15th October 2036
Nurse Petra gives me the feeding cup and I can drink a little water. It refreshes me. “If you need something, just ring, and I will come.” Saying this she leaves the room.
Exhausted, my head crashes onto my pillow. Today was my 76th birthday and I knew it was going to be my last.
Memories flooded back: my wife and I had retired completely from Diospi Suyana when we were 66 years old so that we would not hinder our successors. We had planned to enjoy a relaxing retirement, but that remained a plan! We were constantly travelling from one talk about our faith to the next, always proclaiming the real God, whom you can experience in so many ways. We were amazed at our energy reserves. But eight months ago I felt slight pain in my upper stomach. As soon as my eyes turned yellow, I knew the diagnosis: Pancreatic Head carcinoma. As the tumor was inoperable, I knew I had only a couple of months left to live.
My oxygen-mask pressed on my face; but without it I could not breathe. If my oxygen saturation fell further, it would all have been over, since I refuse having an intubation. A tummy full of cancer and metastases in my lungs and bones made any invasive therapy futile.
At 11 o’clock every day my wife Tina and my children always visited me. Tina, now 75, was still very agile and full of energy – she did not even need a walking stick. However, today she would need the support of our children. Natalie, Dominik and Florian (all of them in their late thirties, early forties), had arrived in Germany a week ago: they now all work in humanitarian organisations overseas. One of them was toying with the idea of moving to Peru and working at Diospi Suyana. They had left their marriage-partners and children overseas: “We will see each other again,” I had assured them. “Save on your travel expenses.”
Today the four of them came at 9 o’clock. When leaving me last night, Tina, with a wistful sparkle in her eyes, said, “I think we will come two hours earlier tomorrow.” I nodded and instinctively felt that it was the right decision. My legs had swollen massively on account of the edemas; the pleural gap (between lungs and thoracic wall) was full of liquid. “Should I puncture the skin again and take some fluid out?”, Dr. Schreiber, the internal specialist, asked. “No, it should be enough,” I replied tiredly. “At one point in time one reaches the end and I know where I am going!”
The clock on the wall showed 8:30 a.m. My breathing became heavier. In the next seconds and minutes I reflected on the life I had lived. Of course I had hoped to celebrate my golden wedding anniversary with my wife next year. But the tumour had unfortunately ruined those plans. How much we had experienced together since founding Diospi Suyana. In the missionary hospital our doctors had treated over a million patients, most of them Quechua-Indians living in the mountains. The school had long reached its full capacity; former pupils had found good jobs, some of them even worked in the provincial government in Abancay. Most of all I am happy about Diospi Suyana’s Media Centre. The satellite transmission works perfectly – we can reach every corner of Peru with our Christian family TV station – and it can also be watched in Bolivia and Ecuador. Over 100 people work meticulously and tirelessly on the radio and TV programmes. In light of what their daily tasks are, far too few.
Ten to nine. Peruvian time 2 a.m. My children had set up a laptop on my table; out of the small speakers I could hear Diospi Suyana’s internet radio. At this hour of the night our studio in Curahuasi broadcasts English Christian music. Probably only young people are awake at this hour; and also the lorry-drivers, who might have tuned in.
A song from years ago was just playing, sung by Hillsong in Australia. I had heard it so often: “I love you” – a love- and thank-song for Jesus Christ.
Suddenly I felt a special glow fill my sick room. A bright light shone through the door and the reflections let the walls and the ceiling glow supernaturally. Now He stood in front of me and waved to me. I looked at his hands and feet, which still showed the places where the nails had pierced. Behind Him I saw my parents and many friends and relatives who had passed on before me.
I got out of the bed with unbelievable ease and hurried towards the light. Finally I had reached my goal.
Petra glanced scrutinisingly at my bed. “Susanne,” she called onto the corridor, “Get Dr. Schreiber, he can fill out the form, the time has come!”
“Shall I call his wife?” Susanne answered. “No need, his family will be here in five minutes. But please put two more chairs into the room.“
In an old book one can read: “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” It is good to be prepared! /KDJ