Thursday, December 29, 2011
‘Keep it to Yourself’
By Talar T. Moy, R.N. (as told to Aubrey Beauchamp)
Special to ASSIST News Service
SAN CLEMENTE, CA (ANS) -- When my Mom was pregnant with me, my Dad was imprisoned.
We lived in Sulaymaniyah, a large city in Northern Iraq and we are Kurds, who go back thousands of years BC. We have our own language and culture and are a quiet and peace-loving people, but Saddam Hussein hated us. He was relentless in his attempts to either conquer or exterminate us.
My Dad was an actor, a writer and theater director. He had written something negative about Saddam which resulted in his arrest. My Mom, now five months pregnant, did not want another baby and tried to end the pregnancy. But she failed and in 1971 I entered the world.
Because of my Dad’s imprisonment and resulting political stigma, my Mom was not permitted to have me in a hospital, so I was born at home with a midwife. I was a breech baby and the midwife had a very difficult time bringing me into the world. As a result, I was born with a dislocated hip and by the time it was diagnosed, a few years later, it was too late to correct. I did learn how to walk but with a distinct limp and with much pain.
When I was 2½ years old, against all odds, my Dad was released from prison and torture and rejoined our family. I had a hard time getting used to this unfamiliar man, but in time we became a happy and close-knit family. Over the years, my parents consulted many a physician about my dislocated hip but no one knew how to fix it.
I did well in school and had a longing to help other people, especially those with handicaps, like me. Becoming a physician seemed the ultimate goal, but the doors closed. During Saddam’s chemical warfare I lost several years of schooling, so instead, I became a nurse. My Dad was very supportive of my decision even though a nursing career is not a highly valued profession in my country.
There was no lack of handicapped and injured children. My heart’s longing was to be able to help these kids, especially since in a Muslim country disabilities are frowned upon as a punishment by God.
One day in 1992, right after the Gulf War, word reached us that an overseas medical team was planning to come to build and operate a place for handicapped kids. It was a government sponsored mission to help set up, operate and then train local caregivers so they could take over. It was spearheaded by a Kathy Johnson, a physical therapist from Australia. She submitted a proposal to the British and American governments and received a grant. Unbeknown to us, Kathy was also on staff at YWAM (Youth With A Mission) a Christian organization.
When the grant was approved, she began to recruit staff from the office in Amsterdam - staff who knew how to work in others cultures: doctors, nurses, physical therapists, social workers. They came from all over the world. My heart leaped when they arrived and started to hire local people.
“Patrick,” Kathy announced when she met him, “I’m getting married. I feel that you should be the new leader!”
“What?!” Patrick was stunned.
Kathy insisted. Patrick prayed about it and felt he should accept the job.
Patrick was friendly and started asking me questions. I dodged them. Americans were known to be Hollywood type womanizers, we heard. I finally told him that if he had questions he had to come to my home and visit my family. I felt safe there.
He did come and brought his co-workers. They all came with their bodyguards. Because of the no-fly zone, foreigners could enter the country but there was still no safety for them, hence the bodyguards. Most of these bodyguards were well educated men who valued a job with these foreigners.
Many local people, including my own family, could not understand why people from other countries would leave the safety of their homes to volunteer to work in this very dangerous country. To them, it was a mystery.
When Patrick and his team members left my home, my Mom gave him a little basket filled with homemade cookies. I later heard he devoured them. We developed a friendship and one day he returned the little basket. In it were two books: Billy Graham’s, “How to Become a New Person” in Arabic and the Gospel of Luke which was recently translated into Kurdish. Intrigued, I began to read and for the first time I heard about this person called Jesus. I loved it, especially the parables.
I went to my Dad and asked him, “What do you think of this?”
He was educated enough to know what Christians believe. Although we were all Muslims, he encouraged me to keep reading.
When I returned the books to Patrick and asked for more he gave me a whole Bible in Arabic. Then an English girl started to disciple me and met me for Bible study. Before I realized it I had gone too far - I could not go back to my own life and lifestyle - I had become a believer!
“Keep it to yourself,” I was warned by friends. “Don’t share or tell anyone.”
A visiting orthopedic surgeon from Oregon came to Iraq to help with the children’s project. Patrick mentioned my hip condition to him. He studied my x-rays and said he could help, but I had to come to the States. That seemed impossible. No one from Iraq could get out of the country and travel to the US, and because of the no-fly zone, there were no planes. My only chance would be to go to Turkey.
On the Stateside, everything for my surgery was falling into place with my surgeon and physical therapist all volunteering their time. But the doors stayed firmly shut. No visas were granted. I applied five times and spent almost two years in Turkey, but was denied every time.
Finally, I gave up on surgery and applied to YWAM in Amsterdam for their DTS (Discipleship Training) and was given a student visa. Still limping, I completed my training which included a two months outreach to Brazil.
By now my father’s advice to “keep this to myself” had long evaporated into thin air. I spoke freely about my faith and loved to pray with people and share the Gospel with them.
Meanwhile, surgeons in Holland were also unable to fix my hip.
Then, unexpectedly, I was granted a student visa for a YWAM base in Colorado. When I arrived, to my utter surprise Patrick, his mission in Iraq completed, was there too!
I contacted the orthopedic surgeon in Oregon again and he recommended a local friend who could do my hip surgery. It all fell into place: the surgery was done, successful and my limp was finally history. Meanwhile, Patrick and I became engaged and soon were married. We returned to his hometown in Southern California.
For the first three years of my married life I tried to get my nurses license but my Iraqi training was not accepted. So I let it rest until a few years ago when things had changed politically. Then I tried again and sent in my transcripts. It took the Nurses Board two years to make a decision. Finally they informed me I had to take the State Board exams again. After not working for eight years, that was hard. I hit the books, but with the language barrier, I failed twice. Now I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to pursue a nursing career.
During a church retreat I was still praying about it. Then an elderly lady at the retreat fainted and stopped breathing. I jumped into action and automatically did the right thing. She made it and I knew I had to try those exams one more time. A week later I did, and this time, I passed.
Without experience, I had a hard time getting a job. Finally, a hospice agency hired me for a shift nobody wanted. I worked weekends for a year, but with two little boys and a husband at home, I needed to have my weekends free. Then Hospice Care of California hired me. They employed many Christians and I could share my faith openly. Besides, I had weekends off.
As a hospice liaison, I often visited local hospitals. Sitting in the O.R. one day (liaisons have no place of their own to stay) I started to talk to an employee and shared the Lord with him. He is now part of our home fellowship.
I then heard about a job opening as a Case Manager at Hoag Hospital. I applied and got the job.
Today, I have the best job in the world: Weekends off, a job I love where I am free to share my faith and pray with patients and give compassionate care. I don’t have to ‘keep this to myself.’
I give God all the credit to get me, a Kurd and Muslim, into this country, help me get a license, fix my hip, give me a wonderful family and the freedom to share my Christian faith!
Note: This story first appeared in the Winter 2012 edition of A New Heart magazine.
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