“Lord, I cannot do this without You. I’m depending on You.”
A beautiful scene – Baba Asia walking with his 2-year old little boy Bekam, as the two of them were coming home from church. Baba Asia had been my enemy for at least five years – he hated me and he hated everything about me – but recently he became my ally and even more recently my brother in Christ. In the midst of all of the death and sorrow that is a part of our lives here, I see God so at work as He draws even the most unlovable towards Him.
I remember the morning they had first come to see me. It was the same morning that Dif, the daughter of my friend Elizabeth, had come to tell me that her mom had lost consciousness and I knew Elizabeth was going to die.
Among those who had come that particular morning was a mother, with her grandmother, aunt and cousin – and a small child wrapped up in a cloth. Just looking at the child’s color I knew there was a big problem. Her skin was a sickly light brown color and her lips were gray as were her fingernails. And she had been slipping in and out of consciousness.
Idda danced a little jig while she sang a song about God’s goodness and how God’s grace had saved her. Her face beamed. The words in her song were her own and they just flowed spontaneously and sincerely and joyfully from within her. What was remarkable about her little dance and song is that it was just a few months ago that Idda was paralyzed on one-half of her body and she had completely lost her ability to communicate. Dr. Leena told me that it was most likely encephalitis.
Where had Neema gone? We were out visiting the sick in Mwefu village, and following up on those who had just started taking ARVs, but Neema wasn’t there at her house. Neema has been part of our lives for eight months now, and not once have I gone to her home and not found her bed-ridden, in real pain with TB, sores, swollen legs and anything and everything else that goes along with merciless AIDS. When the doctors and nurses had come for a "training day" to explain how to take the ARV medication and how to stay healthy, I sent Jovinus with my little car to go get her.
Fruit! Fruit of any kind – avacados, oranges, guavas! Fruit is so welcomed, and so needed, by my friends in these villages who are living with HIV/AIDS. For some, when they have lost all appetite for food, they often can be coaxed back into eating with a little fruit, and so it’s been my habit when I go visiting people whenever I see fruit for sale I always buy whatever I can find so I have some just in case I need it for someone. And for those who are getting better, especially for the children, fruit gives that added nutrition and vitamins that help make the medicines effective.
Soon after I walked through the door into their little home, I recognized the little black plastic bag, now scrunched up with only a very little milk powder remaining in it. Where could they have possibly gotten that bag from?
I had been teaching in the classroom that morning when I recognized a familiar face at the window. It was Chesco from the village of Ikaning’ombe. He was bringing me news that there was a two-week old baby in that village who hadn’t nursed since she had been born. Please come ….
This is the time of year when everything is covered with a thick layer of reddish dust -- I think the last time it rained was in May. The plants -- the cows -- my hair! -- everything lives with the reality that the world has turned to red dust. It is even more so with my vehicle -- on most days you can only barely perceive that it is blue. It has become an accepted part of life – dust in the dry season – no problem. Best to just ignore it and not even try to fight a losing battle against the reddish dust that cakes everything this time of year. Most of the time anyway.
"Mama come quickly, there's a sick person here!" I was a bit surprised, given there are always people who are sick at my door, so much so that no one seems to take much notice of that fact anymore these days. But my fellow teacher Tekla insisted that I leave the classroom right then and come to the motorcycle upon which sat a tiny woman wedged in between two men.
My Sunday afternoon in Iyegea turned out to be a Sunday afternoon at the Iyegea bars! I can't think of a better place to talk about HIV and the love of Christ! I have to laugh about it because spending an afternoon at the bars certainly wasn't anything that my little group would have thought of and planned. But a medical emergency on the way in the village just before Iyegea made us late.