#13: A grateful Turk (c. 1902)

Once when the whole country-side was busy with the wheat harvest I was one of three on a ride to a neighboring city, and as we passed a village harvesting and threshing, I asked about someone who had been in our Hospital. The answer came, "You must mean Osman Agha; he's not here today, he's at another village". The next day as we came back, three men stepped into our roadway, laid hold of our bridle reins and said, "You must turn back. You must stop and see us, and accept a little of our refreshment before you proceed on your way". We answered that we were travelers, and must push along on our journey. Then the villager holding my horse stepped forward and said most courteously and earnestly, "I'm Osman Agha. I'm the man you asked for yesterday. I was in your American Hospital. And now if you should pass my village without entering my little house and partaking of my humble hospitality, it would be a lasting shame and disgrace to me." Such an invitation was not to be rejected. We were escorted to the coolest spot, furnished with the best available village carpets and pillows, and while the best meal the place afforded was prepared as quickly as possible (and such fare in its way was almost equal to a Thanksgiving dinner), our host told the listeners about his experiences. He came to the Hospital for relief from a cruel facial cancer, and an operation was prescribed. He was afraid, but when they got ready they laid him on a nice, clean bed and gave him some medicine. He went comfortably to sleep, and when he woke up his operation was all done. He was in the Hospital till the wound healed, and he did not know there could be such a place in the world. There was no quarrelling, fighting, swearing, among the people working there, but everyone was full of kindness, good nature and good will; knew his work and did it day or night on time and just as the doctor ordered. So medicine, food and care were given just as each patient needed, and the whole place was really just like heaven. Then he talked of his personal condition and affairs with a faith and a peace worthy of faithful Abraham. But the facial cancer had not been wholly cured. He said he knew it might come back any time with extreme force, but he and all his interests were in the hands of God and whatever happened it would be all right. We never met again, but I think when the Doctor approaches the gate of Paradise, he will find Osman Agha waiting and watching to welcome him.

NEXT: Anatolian Hellenism (c. 1902)