One morning in December I was praying on my bed in despair for Jesse. Almost immediately I heard the Holy Spirit say, “I’ve got this.” It’s not the first time that I heard my Heavenly Father say this regarding Jesse. Every time I had prayed, there was comfort and a strong reassurance that Jesse would survive his ordeal.
When I first heard of my friend Jesse Rotholz plight while I was in Maryland, my friends and I began praying for his recovery. Jesse returned to Kona from Uganda after being on a missions outreach. It was discovered that he had contracted Malaria and would need medical help. That was in Sept 2018.
Off to Oahu
In December after hearing a request from close friends to pray and consider seeing Jesse, I meekly responded that I would pray, although I had no great urge or a clear word to do so. It was not that I wasn’t willing to visit Jesse in the hospital, I just knew that it had to be from God’s direction. That night I feebly prayed and went to sleep. In the morning for some unexplained reason, I awoke feeling excited with a complete change of heart. Immediately I knew I had to travel to Honolulu to see Jesse at Queens Medical Center. That Saturday in quick order all the travel arrangements of getting to the Baltimore airport and then to Honolulu fell into place. It was as if a fresh wind of the spirit was put into my sails.
There are amazing stories woven into the back of this ‘story’ like a tapestry that are too many to recount here. Probably enough to fill a book. And there are many friends and prayer warriors who have been vigilant to stand in the gap for Jesse and his family. At this writing it is four months into Jesse’s stay at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, much of it in the intensive care unit.
The many details of Jesse’s challenges, to say the least, have been journaled by his mom, Louise. I consider Louise to be a hero, a woman of faith and courage as she watched and prayed over the many decisions made for Jesse by the hospital staff. Almost every day there were meetings to navigate decisions with a large team of doctors and nurses, some of them I have also met and also prayed for while visiting him.
On one particular morning after the medical team prepared Jesse for a procedure, the nurse asked me if I would like to pray for Jesse before they wheeled him into surgery.
Most of my time at Queen’s Hospital has been in prayer, worship and encouragement with some great fellowship with friends and family of Jesse while here in Honolulu. I also got to meet some new friends while in the hospital waiting room. It was over the holiday time and many families were camping out together as they gathered in support for their loved ones. Waiting rooms resembled picnic gatherings. There were even crock pots and snacks that were shared which made it was easy to make new friends in true aloha fashion. Even though I was there for Jesse and his family, I sensed God’s tender heart for the hurting whenever I saw visitors come.
Sometimes I would lift a song in the elevators or hallways when there was no one present. Being the holiday season made it easy to sing songs of faith. It was fun to make new friends and pray for their loved ones as well. One time while I was caught up singing, quite loudly in fact, I entered an elevator continuing the song thinking I had the elevator all to myself. After a chorus I casually noticed there was a girl in the corner I hadn’t seen. You can imagine the laughter we both had.
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,Lamentations 3:22-23
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
A Mountain to climb
When Kip, a friend of Jesse’s from Jacksonville arrived to visit, there was a welcome break for me from the hospital. Kip organized an impromptu hike to Three Peaks with my dear friends Ken and Annette who were also visiting. Kips idea of a hike turned out to be more challenging than I expected – he was a little sketchy on the details. Upon arriving, we discovered that it had rained the night before as we clamored on the upward slopes. The trail if you can call it that varied from paths of red mud slides, rocky roots and tree hugging opportunities along with some ropes installed over steep and abstract looking rocks steps. A few vines were gratefully provided here and there for a last resort grip. I’m sure there is a new ice cream flavor hidden in that description.
There is something about an arduous hike that brings ones mind into focus.
Along the upward climb there were teases of views that were welcome breaks, affording me stops to snap a photo or two, or three. In typical ‘Don’ fashion I allowed myself a favorite distraction, taking shots of tiny flowers, amazing flora and peeks of the vista through the trees. This was just glimpse of the forthcoming view at the top.
When words fail, use pictures
In honor of our dearest friend Jesse, Kip wrote a piece about about Jesse that I consider to be the most inspired writing for him I’ve read at this time. I asked Kip if I could share it with my friends on this blog, which he obliged. I aptly call it Jesses’ Mountain.
By Kip Hansen
I got a chance to climb a local mountain yesterday with part of team Jesse. It was amazing, and it got me thinking of mountains. I’d like to share something that I wrote down this morning in my quiet time that will hopefully encourage everyone today.
Imagine you’ve been asked to dig a tunnel through a mountain. At First it may seem like an insurmountable task. You press in with your shovel and remove the first scoop of dirt, then the second, then the third. You think, I can do this. You dig and dig making great strides, then all of a sudden you hit hard rock. The shovel is not cutting it anymore. You think this is impossible, but then you realize with God all things are possible.
So you stop and think and change the tool to a hammer and chisel and bust up those rocks so they’re soft soil again. Going back to the shovel, you dig and dig, deeper and deeper into this tunnel. It’s getting darker, it’s getting harder to breath, it’s getting scarier. But then you realize that if God wanted you to dig this tunnel he’ll give you everything you need to accomplish it. You have a thought that maybe I shouldn’t be digging alone, maybe others could help.
You get friends to join you. Some bringing bright lights to help you see, others bring air pumps to pump fresh air into the tunnel, while others dig with you and support you. Now you realize again, you can do this and you can make great strides as a team growing closer together and knowing your purpose.
Day after day you dig away, but your hopes are starting to wane, you’re starting to doubt that you are digging in the right direction or whether you were even supposed to dig at all. Then, as you, in your weakness dig one more shovelful the lights in the tunnel go out! There was a power failure, and some of your friends have left. People are even mocking you for still trying to dig. You’re in the dark, feeling desperate, wondering if it’s all for nothing. But then you get a thought. What if I stepped out of the tunnel and went up on the mountain to get a view from above. So you climb the mountain one day and see from above that you’re almost through the mountain. You must be 99% of the way there! That heavenly perspective changed everything! You hear a thundering whisper that says “you were made for such a time as this!”
You run into the tunnel with ‘fire’ inside you and not even slowing down, you run right into the wall of dirt and rock, breaking through to reveal the light on the other side. The dig team celebrates this amazing day!
The impossible really was possible!
This is how it’s been on Jesse’s journey. What started with Jesse alone digging is now a team of thousands, some with shovels, some with lights, some with oxygen. These are all of you out there each playing your part. We are also grateful for all of you to keep digging even when others despair.
This is a huge team effort! Team Jesse, which is really just a small part of team Jesus. And the beauty of digging in the Kingdom of God is we do our best digging when we rest in him, not with earthly striving. So instead of blood, sweat, and tears we just rest, and know and trust Him!
So today we celebrate a breakthrough of this great mountain. While there will be more mountains ahead for all of us, let’s look from the heavenly perspective and realize they are just life’s speed bumps which can help us to slow down, rely on God, and draw closer to him which might just be the most important thing in life, knowing Him! Bless you all!
Mahalo and Aloha – Kip Hansen
For Updates on Jesse Rotholz; Facebook.com/jesse.rotholz