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.
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.
Today we sent off three new missionaries to go serve in the far western Rukwa region of Tanzania. They won’t get to their new homes until sometime Thursday, probably late in the evening. They go to these villages to do what all of our missionaries go to do: to teach our students, to love them, to share the Gospel with them.
This was the week, in six regions all across the country of Tanzania, that new students started enrolling in our schools to come study English. They just finished their national exams to complete their seven years of primary school education, and they and their families won’t find out for four months who will get chosen to get to go on to the 8th grade in the government schools. We’re not waiting though.
“Bibi (grandmother), no one has gone to a witch doctor to put a curse on your daughter. She has AIDS.”
Last week began with another email from Malawi and when I saw the pictures of all of their bricks – they now have more than 70,000 made! – I said to myself that nothing the whole week, no matter how good, was ever going to top that! I was thrilled off the charts. The only bad thing about starting out the week at the mountain top is that everything from then on looks like you’re going downhill!
And down hill indeed things did go.
It’s easy to focus only on the big picture of things – and when I do it’s hard not to be happy about the hundreds and hundreds of people who are alive today because of the work that we are doing here in Tanzania to help the widows and the orphans and those who are sick with HIV/AIDS.
Last night I saw the pictures of the bricks.
The first time I met Ella I liked her.
It was as though time stood still for a moment as my eyes focused in on a little angel sitting on a blanket in the middle of our AIDS day crowd. Her emaciation was frightening, but her bright eyes and calm spirit caught my attention. Over 300 of my friends who are HIV+ had already gathered outside our clinic waiting for the doctors and nurses who were supposed to be coming from town. And that’s when we got word that they wouldn’t be coming from town because they couldn’t get any fuel for their vehicles.