Yeah, I just wrote that.
A virulent virus is weaving its ugly way through our compound, and Hailey and I were the (un)lucky recipients this weekend.
(Please pray for our Burundi Evacuee Missionary guests, that we do not give them this gift, as they've had enough to contend with lately......)
Febrile, shaky, sore all over, weak and dizzy -- I found myself in kind of a delirium almost, wanting only for my Mama to be there with her soothing, cold washcloth on my forehead, telling me all would be better soon. (My mom was always really good at nursing sick children.)
And then I remembered I was in Africa, that my mom was 8,000 miles away, and the worst thing I remembered was that I wasn't a kid anymore. I was the grownup, and grownups don't get to have their moms lovingly put cold rags on their foreheads when they are throwing up. Grownups have to be SURE they hit the toilet, lest they get stuck with the job of cleaning up their mess themselves.
After a major pity party for a few seconds.....
I then started wondering what it would have been like to be like the women in my sewing co-op, who can't even remember their moms, much less ever have their moms put a cold washrag on their faces, nor ever have cold, running water available in their homes, nor ever even own a clean and cold washrag. I wondered what it was like to be Deste when he was little(r), when his parents drowned when he was still a nursing baby and had no one except his wonderful, but extremely poor, teenaged aunt to watch over him and to try to care for him when he felt sick. I thought about how many millions of people have gone without basic care and attention to small things like coping with viruses.
And then I felt quite silly for feeling sorry for my 50 year old self, that I didn't have my Mama with me just then.
Being in my stream-of-consciousness, febrile-philosophical state, I also started thinking, "Why can't we do something about all the suffering in the world, about all the kids who don't have Moms? Why is it wearing Tim and me out so much just trying to alleviate a small bit of suffering in one little corner of one little country in one little side of the Eastern side of Africa?"
Nothing like trying to do something to make you realize how small and powerless you are, and how big and overpowering the world is.
It seemed to me then, while lying on the cold, hard floor, that it takes a whole lot more than two people to make a dent in something. It seemed to me that unless every single person in the entire world who has been blessed with loving parents, with physical comforts, with experiencing the love of Jesus, with financial blessings - unless every single one of us decides to share our blessings with those who do not have them, the world will continue to be a painful, painful place for millions - billions - of people. As someone I deeply admire said to her children when they were growing up: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room."
This week, Tim has 86 patients to round on every morning and evening. How is he supposed to do anything BUT round on 86 patients, many of whom are crammed, 3 to a bed, in their ward? Yet he also has multiple, multiple surgeries scheduled. And next week, he loses Stephanie Land, who is his right arm in the surgery area. Oh, and the suction isn't working in surgery, and hasn't been working for over a week. I don't even know how they've done any surgery without that, but worse, they don't know when it will be fixed. And, he has one patient who was in a severe motorcycle accident and had the lower half of her arm literally ripped off, along with all the skin from her neck downwards. It is pretty horrid. So, he has spent literally 2 hours EACH day cleaning and dressing that wound. Two hours he doesn't have, treating a patient who is so sick that he would TRANSFER her to a better equipped hospital if he was working at his Kerrville Hospital. That he is working on someone here who would need to be transferred from Kerrville says a lot. Kerrville has far, far more ability to provide for this woman's needs than does our mission hospital here - and yet, he treats her here because there is nowhere else to send her.
So, why do we even stay? Why are we still working in Africa if we can often see no difference being made, and often grow weary and exhausted and discouraged? We stay because we believe God has asked us to stay, and because we are addicted to the JOY He gives us when we see that glimmer of difference that sometimes God delivers through the offering of our work here. We stay because we believe "To whom much is given, much is required" (Luke 12:48), and we enjoy being able to share with friends here a bit of what we have so freely received all our lives. We stay because we have hope that God can take our wimpy little offerings and can bless them and turn them into something big and good for His people here. We stay because we believe in the power of God's redeeming love.