What a day...
A day i’ll never forget...
Let me start off by telling you about Lindi. She just got out of prison and is living with us in the mission house for now. I’ve had a hard time trusting her... Will she take my stuff? Can I trust her? Today all of those questions faded away.
We had just arrived at church to find out what a “normal work week” at the church looked like. I was excited to do a couple of jobs for Pastor Willie, maybe practice the piano, and play with a few kids. Man, was I in for a surprise...
Lindi was downstairs to “fetch some spoons” out of the kitchen when she fell. We got word of her fall upstairs and everyone rushed down to check on her. Is she ok? No- not at all. I have never seen so much blood in my life. She had a huge gash in the back of her head. I had just found out that she has epilepsy and diabetes. I was scared...very scared. We rushed her upstairs to clean her up and I’m reminded by Kyle that I MUST wear gloves. I put on my gloves and Rosy and I were able to stop some of the bleeding and wrap up her head. It was hard...I felt nauseated dealing with all the blood...I was short of breath. We then rushed her to the hospital where I had one of the saddest and most unforgettable moments in my life. The smell that hit me when I walked into the government hospital was overwhelming. It made my eyes burn and I couldn’t breath without wanting to vomit. I told myself to get over it...I had someone to take care of. Someone to take care of... this person that i have been weary of is now depending on me to help her. My whole attitude changed. This is God’s child...one that I’m told to love and care for just as He would. It then became a whole lot easier to love on her. We sat waiting and waiting to be seen and we were just not getting anywhere. Meanwhile, the smell was still making me sick. People, even nurses, are standing around with their hands over their noses trying to keep from getting sick themselves. Finally, Pastor Willie saved the day by talking to the right people to get her seen immediately. Praise the Lord! As we entered the hallway to get to a room where Lindi will be seen, I thought the smell I had been dealing with couldn’t get any worse. It did. I thought I was going to lose it...I pulled it together as I walked by AIDS patient after AIDS patients. They were everywhere...people of all ages. I couldn’t tell if the tears in my eyes were because of my sadness for these people or the pungent smell. I simply prayed,”God your will be done.”
Lindi was finally seen and after a few stitches, a few hours, and a few scary moments she was on her way to feeling better. After such a long morning, I felt like I needed to go home...go back to sleep and try the day again. This day couldn’t get worse...Or could it?
We have this friend. She is an incredible woman. Faithful. Humble. Beautiful.
She has four wonderful children. She lives with them in the squatter camp near the church. The five of them share a shack that is literally the size of a walk-in closet.
This woman is a pillar of hope in the community. She is always looking on the bright side of things, always smiling away adversity.
Her skin is a deep, beautiful brown. Her eyes are are a piercing white around compassionate chocolate moons. To see her is to feel good about life. To see her is to have hope for all of Africa.
This afternoon, she entered the office and our eyes locked. Something was not right. I had seen her young son earlier in the day and he said she was not feeling well. He told me that “she went to hospital.” Looking at her, I asked how she was feeling. “Not so good,” was her answer. Her eyes began to moisten at the edges.
She asked for Pastor Willie. While waiting for him, she spoke briefly with Stef, admitting she got some news from the clinic that she must first tell Pastor.
Stef came and sat with me and we both tried to hope for something less than the worst. Out of Pastor’s office came our friend, our hope for Africa.
She hung her head low as she tried to force the words out. We hugged her together, told her that we loved her. She began to weep deeply, unable to control herself. Looking up, she met our eyes briefly, and she muttered the three most devastating words that we had ever heard...
“I am positive.”
Again she broke down. We broke with her. AIDS will soon claim another precious life. The life of our friend.
I have encountered a lot in my time in South Africa. I have helped bury my friends who lost the fight against AIDS. I have watched children stand barefoot and shiver as they wait for life-sustaining food. I have seen a hopeless stare in too many eyes. None of it, though, prepared me for the crushing words from our friend.
None of it can compare to seeing the defeated eyes of a precious friend who knows that the diagnosis is a death sentence. She is saddled with a virus that cannot be stopped. She cannot afford the drugs that, though they cannot cure her, might prolong her existence. She is another victim of uncompromising profit margins from drug companies who are responsible to shareholders before the dying. She will soon be one of the 6600 Africans who die every day from a preventable, treatable disease.
Stef and I wept together Monday night. She wanted to take the disease from her friend. I wanted to put my fist through a wall. We wanted to fall asleep and awake in a world where justice prevails.
Please pray for our beautiful friend.