susan's blog

The pain of losing Adelia aches inside

Behind those long dark lashes there were tears. Trying to hide her grief, little Lillian attempted to smile. She had come to tell me that Adelia's mother wanted us to return Adelia’s belongings from her dorm room to her house. There have been many tears and grief around here these days as everyone here at school has come to grips with our very big loss – dear, dear Adelia. Each time someone said something the memories of our time together came rushing back ...

Some days there are tears though

A decade ago here in Tanzania, the song "Jesus will wipe away all of our tears" was wildly popular and I remember that our bus driver would play it over and over as he drove people on the three-hour trip all the way to Lugoda Hospital for AIDS treatment. Back in those days, people were only starting to come into the idea that AIDS was a disease you could live with, hope was in short supply, and it seemed that tears flowed all the time. People liked that song.

September 14th

Sometimes I just can’t help but marvel at how people who are dying or losing loved ones have time to remember to make sure you are comfortable in their homes when you go to visit them. How many times have I visited someone near death who quickly comes to life barking orders to “get the chairs for the visitors!” I marvel at it all. In addition to their hospitality, their generosity is simply humbling. As soon as they have something to share, they share it. I might be coming to bring them a blanket, some fruit, a mattress, but in return there is always a gift.

A note folded many times over

Three weeks ago, a note folded many times over and squeezed in a sweaty hand was passed along to me sometime during a long, hectic day at our HIV/AIDS clinic. It was only in the evening that I had time to carefully unfold it and give it some thought. It started out with the usual, ever so polite Tanzanian greetings that are such a part of life here. First of all, I begin with greeting you – Shikamoo!

If I could have favorites in this world...

If I could have favorites in this world, one of my favorites would be Godi. He’s one of the miracles around here – one of the very first of the children in this whole region to be enrolled in the HIV/AIDS children’s AIDS program 10 years ago when the whole program was just in its infancy stages. I didn’t know Godi way back then when he first started on the medications, as he lived far away from me, but very close to one of the first AIDS clinics in our region of Iringa.

She physically couldn't get to church.

I remember the day well. I was off to the village of Lulanda whose mountainous roads and cliffs are a bit unnerving and it was there that my gear box decided to drop out! Worse still, I was so far out in the middle of nowhere that there was no network for my phone. And so there I was.

The gift I'm really hoping for

I can’t help but be amazed at what is going on around me here and how God is bringing it all together. And when I stop long enough to think about it I feel emboldened to believe that even more amazing things can happen.

My treasures

Sitting on the side of the bed of gentle, tiny Jeni. Her four year old daughter Queeni sat on my lap playing with my hair, touching my nose, face and ears, seemingly oblivious to the fact that her mother was dying. Jeni -- truly a lovely lady in life, and also as she lay dying. As she asked Jesus to ease her pain, I could only feel regret. Not sure what went wrong when, but it did. At 65 pounds, all that was left was her kind, soft eyes.

In these trenches

Yesterday was another graduation day at Madisi, and with Steve off in America, it fell to me to speak from my heart to our students and to their parents and to everyone who had gathered for the great celebration. It was my chance to talk to them all about Sunday, one of my very students who graduated more than ten years ago.

In their minds

“Bibi (grandmother), no one has gone to a witch doctor to put a curse on your daughter. She has AIDS.”