Loren and the rest of the Young Life leaders had planned a super fun night at club where the kids would meet at one place and then play a kind of city wide game of spotlight. They had to make it to the high school without getting caught by a leader. When everyone got to the high school, Loren had promised them root beer floats. It sounds fun, huh? It was. Everyone made their way to the high school and when they got there, Loren started scooping up the ice cream for the floats. Pretty early on in the scooping, his trusty scoop broke. No problem. Loren decided he would just scoop with his hands. "Oh...wait a minute...with his HANDS," you are probably thinking. Let me just stop here and say that every time I have told this story I have always said emphatically, "First of all, I would never, ever, accept ice cream that had been scooped up by someone's hands." Apparently, high schoolers do not have these same convictions and so, scoop after scoop, my darling husband served between 60 and 75 high schoolers that night.
I asked him later if it hurt when he was serving. "It hurt a lot at first," he said, "but then after a while it just went numb and I thought...'sweet, now it's no problem.'" (Insert disbelieving eye roll here.) Things got bad quickly after he stopped serving. Once his fingers, incredibly white and hard as rocks by this time, began to thaw there was serious pain. I knew it was bad when my husband, who is known to have a seriously high pain tolerance, said to me, albeit very calmly, "Wow! I'm in so much pain, I'm nauseous." Not good. At 11:00pm that night, when it still wasn't better, and his fingers had swollen to twice their normal size, we started to search the internet for frostbite symptoms. It didn't take us long to confirm that was what it was.
That whole week it hurt A LOT and was very sensitive to the touch. The four fingers on his right hand turned a deep dark red and then started to turn white and increasingly numb. (I should also mention that we left a day and half later to drive to Pennsylvania where he and Hope were in his cousins wedding. There is nothing like a 24 hour road trip to soothe frostbitten fingers.) When we went to the doctor after our trip he was almost assured that he would lose the tip of his middle finger. Yikes! Here is what his hand looked like.
Shortly after that visit to the doctor, that white skin started to look more like blisters. He had a lot more feeling in them than he originally had and we became convinced that he wasn't going to be an amputee after all. The skin started to peel. Oh, I wish I had pictures of that. It was really sick but also really cool in a sick kind of way...like peeling skin after a sunburn only the skin was a lot thicker. And, only a month later, it looks like he is pretty much all healed up. Here is a picture of his hand currently. You can just barely see where the skin is a slightly different color. He has brand new baby soft skin on the tips of his fingers now and he says they are super sensitive...not in a painful way, just in a weird way where he feels things more intensely.
So, there you have it. Loren is a medical miracle. Seriously, this little episode has taught me two incredible things...the lengths to which a man will go to keep his promise of ice cream to a bunch of high schoolers. As silly as it was...okay as insane as it was...I still see it as evidence of the kind of love Loren has for these kids. It's the kind of love that will take a hit if it means that some kid has a good time and, because of that, comes back to Young Life, and because of that, will hear about Jesus in a way they never have, and because of that, just may get to know the greatest love they have ever known. It's all worth it then, right? I know what Loren would say. "Yep, it is. What's a couple of fingers?"
It also reminded me of the power of prayer. I can honestly say that Loren wouldn't have minded losing part of his finger. He was kind of nonchalant about it all. But, it wasn't like he was looking forward to it. We prayed, our small group prayed, other friends prayed, our church body prayed, and, miraculously, he fingers were healed. I am not overstating here. It didn't look good and then, all of the sudden, it did. God hears. He heals. He is still in the business of miracles.
And so it occurs to me...the kind of love that cares about seemingly inconsequential things like ice cream and fingertips is a powerful kind of love. It is an intimate kind of love that doesn't just do the minumum required. It's the kind of love that inspired David to write, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Which, in some similar way, is what Loren was offering when he scooped up ice cream with his hands.