The miracle that surrounds us here

The miracle that surrounds us here

It was like Christmas yesterday -- huge crowds, joy, hugs, handshakes, everyone all excited. Someone looking in would have never guessed that we were at an AIDS clinic! Nor would anyone imagine that we'd be there celebrating! But celebrating we were. Just six years ago, HIV was death sentence for my friends and neighbors, and now, here we were all together not only surviving, but living! I couldn't help by feel joy and real pride yesterday as I watched the natural leaders among my friends organizing people, weighing everyone in, checking people's cards, doing everything to make the work of the doctors and nurses easier and more orderly. Even the torrents of rain that fell during part of the day couldn't dampen people's spirits as we watched everyone get served, receive their medicines right here in our village without having to make that long trip to the hospital, and then be able to head home to their families long before dark. We now have 140 people -- men, women, children -- who have been approved by Lugoda Hospital to get their services right here at our Community Treatment Center from now on, and every day more and more people are getting their transfers approved. Of course the list is long, but if we add each month another hundred people we will slowly be able to upgrade services here at our CTC and downsize our transport service to the Lugoda Hospital. I truly marvel at the miracle we are living, the miracle that surrounds us here in these villages. How thankful I am that the Lord let us be a part of helping these people, how thankful I am for all of my friends, how thankful I am that they are alive and doing so well.

After yesterday's clinic, the leaders of our new HIV/AIDS group (it's called Urafiki which means Friendship) sat down with me and we planned out what we are going to do next now that we have our CTC. Top on the list are the villages that have up until now been too far away to get to treatment. Everyone knows that it wasn't all that long ago that my friends in these villages were in the same position the people in those villages are in and they remember all of the people here in these villages who died as a result. So they want to start by letting the people in the villages of Lulanda and Iyegea know that they are not forgotten and so that's where we are going on Sunday. We're going to spread the word that help is now close and there's no reason for people to keep on dying, the kids in those villages don't have to grow up as orphans, moms don't have to see their newborns get the virus, there is help and there is hope. And so on Sunday off we go! I'm the Mama Mlezi of their Friendship group Urafiki (that means I'm the mother and the caregiver) and so I'll be driving and we're going to have a huge open-air meeting that the village leaders have arranged so that we can make sure everyone knows and no one is left out.

Things seem to be running at a furious pace ever since the clinic opened last month and there is so much that we have to refine, so many things that have to be figured out. What amazes me -- even if it shouldn't I suppose -- is that just at the right time the Lord sent me an extra pair of hands. Msafiri, who was my student ten years ago, showed up out of the blue having just finished his medical studies saying he had heard we were opening an AIDS clinic and he wanted to come help me. I could have cried! I didn't even have time to get around to praying to the Lord for a helper, but He knew I needed one and He sent me one. And Msafiri is really good at all that he does -- competent, kind, compassionate -- and he travels with me to make house calls and to help with everything. So to all of you out there who have been praying for this work -- His work -- I do very much thank you. What a wonderful, wonderful answer. May God bless you and cause you all to rejoice over the great things He has done, showing compassion and mercy on all of these people here. I'm so happy to have you all be a part of this work with us here! Join everyone here in praying for a cure ....

In His service,

Susan