Aug 17 8 Comments

The tears of heaven and heaven on earth

It’s the kind of rainy day that was made for inside activities. Part of me feels cheated. Hey, I have not had my portion of sun yet this season! We are heading towards Norway winter, and, let me tell you: it is dark and cold. I need all the sun I can get.

Then I thought about the rain as the tears of heaven. And as I think of that, I think it rains too little.

I think of the dying children on the horn of Africa—their mothers holding them, wishing only for one thing: Enough food for their babies to eat. At the same time as we, here on the mountain, throw away enough food to feed many villages every day. At the same time as we in the West encourage farmers not to produce food on their land because we have enough, and it is cheaper for them not to produce, than to produce and then have to turn it into garbage.

The mothers in Africa would like some of that food.

Politics are complicated. And economics even more so, but, holy cow, can it be that hard? If people like me raised our voices in unison and said: This is bullshit! There is enough food in the world for all of us to be fed. If only we distributed it a little differently and some of us stopped overeating. 

Could we change the world then?

Cherku Paw the way she looked when she first arrived at the hospital

A coupe of years ago I received some photos in my inbox. It stayed with me for days. For weeks. It was of Cherku Paw, a young girl in Burma, who, when she was six, was standing in front of the fire in their village, trying to warm herself. The cold season is cold. The people seldom have warm clothes. Little Cherku Paw got a bit too close to the fire. A spark fell on her polyester shirt and she caught on fire. She caught on fire.

The pictures I got was of her two years after the accident. For that long she had suffered pain, humiliation and terrible discomfort. For that long her parents had hoped there would be a doctor or a hospital somewhere who would help their little girl. For that long Cherku Paw had not been able to stand up right, close her mouth and run around with the other kids in her village.

Her father had heard of a hospital that could help his girl. For three days he carried her in his arms through the jungle. When she got to the hospital, run by one of the people I admire the most in the world, Dr. Mitch, the doctors were moved the way Jesus would have been moved. Money was raised for Cherku Paw and she was sent to an even better hospital in Chiang Mai.

Months later I received another email. This time there was a photo of a cute little girls, smiling shyly to the camera. I heard that when she thought she was alone in her room at the hospital, the nurses would see her dance on the floor. Joy filled her as she moved her legs, looked at her face in the mirror, touched the parts of her body that before only had been the source of incredible pain. Soon after I got the photo she went back to her village together with her daddy who had been with her the whole time at the hospital. She could walk with her head raised high and a smile on her face. Soon she could join her friends playing games.

Cherku Paw and her dad some moths later at the hospital.

I heard from her again today. She has just been back to Chiang Mai for check ups and we were asked to help pay for the doctors’ fees. I am so glad that I will be able to help. I am so proud that I can.

It’s still raining. Heaven has many tears still because there are so many children like Cherku Paw left to help. In the news they talk about financial crisis around—a world crisis they call it—and I understand the fear. I too fear it. I don’t want to end up on the street. For all these years we have spent resources that don’t belong to us in the first place. For generations we have enjoyed freedom that has been paid for by others’ bondage. Is it time that we realize that and change our ways? I think it is. But I also fear that even through this crisis, it is the ones with the least who will suffer the most, as usual. Not the people like me, who have my security in a nation that only gives from our abundance.

So, it still rains. For the children in Africa. For the children in Burma. For the children on the streets in the big cities around the world. Rob Bell writes about hell in his book, Love Wins. Hell is here on earth, he says. And for too many people, that is true.

But for little Cherky Paw, hell was turned into heaven because generous men and women gave their time, resources and dedication to help her.

Today, let’s try to bring heaven a little closer. Let’s try to bring the sun back in the lives of those who need it the most.

Heaven seen in little children in a refugee camp (photo by Kris Ryan, my friend)


  • Åsa Olsén says:

    Thankyou Oddny for sharing about the little girl.
    Kram Åsa Olsén

  • Steve Gumaer says:

    Everyone should read this.

  • ollie royer says:

    A great blog with a happy ending, thank you.
    Sending grain from the USA or Canada to famine spots in Africa affects local farmers, in Africa, who can’t compete with free grain. Somehow, famine must be dealt with more locally, with no war-lords and theft.
    BTW, I always trust Partners and their ways of help and aid – like to the little girl who was burnt.

    • oddnygumaer says:

      Thanks, Ollie. Yes, I understand that it is not as straight forward as sending grain. But it still seems wrong that we have so much that we need to throw it away, and they have nothing. And, thanks for the compliment! Partners don’t do everything right, for sure, but I am still proud of the difference we are able to make!

  • Rick says:

    I wanna be her doctor.

  • Gena says:

    Thanks again Oddny. Simple truths with simple words. So looking forward to you coming to Fairbanks in 2 weeks and staying with us.