My girl friend’s husband makes less than 6 dollars a day as a fisherman and with that has to feed her six children and his first wife’s 5 children. She told me yesterday they can no longer send her oldest child to school because they do not have the money. She has to decide whether her children will eat or get an education.
Two of my shule student’s Mama had measles AND malaria and was diagnosed and then told to walk to the clinic about two miles away everyday for her injections. She did not have the strength or the money to pay for them so she stayed at home instead and got worse and worse while her children watched her deteriorate. The morning I went to check on her I had to help pull a dress over her feverish body and get neighbors to help me carry her to our car. She had not eaten in days and could barely could open her completely bloodshot eyes. As we walked into the clinic she was shaking and vomiting bile. I laid shaky hands on her and prayed for relief and healing even though if I am honest in those moments I doubted anything could help. Some neighbors and I took her to the hospital to get the 12 dollar life saving treatment she needed. And she recovered slowly over the next two weeks.
One of the teachers we visited this week at a local government school not to far from us told me on the drive to visit her classroom that the school lost two teachers last year. They both died in childbirth. One could not get a ride to the hospital fast enough and another’s labor came so quickly that those with her actually pushed the baby’s head back in to try to “buy time” until she arrived at the hospital. By that time she had lost too much blood and both her and the baby were dead.
How do I feel about all of this? Admittedly I do not know how to process everything I experience here. I am profoundly sad and humbled and angry and and sometimes numb but mostly changed. I cannot handle it all, it shakes me to my soul and runs out, spills over, and rises up in desperate prayers. Many days I am just trying to hold on. To His promises. To His Joy. To His plan for all people to know peace. I am moved and compelled to show love and compassion in ways that cost me personally. And I am weak and sometimes feel the needs are so great that they must have been forgotten. Yes, I struggle to hold onto Hope and Faith. But I am thankful God is not dependent on my feelings. There is vast suffering here far beyond what I knew before and far beyond what I can explain. But there is also amazing courage and strength and vitality and community. To reconcile all that we experience here escapes me and I know requires more time on my knees than in my head. But I know for sure I am profoundly made more human by experiencing and listening and learning from people’s stories here.
Last night Jason was out studying with a group of guys here and I let Anni stay up too late and hang out with me (she has no school this week so rules are a bit bend-y around here). She was coloring and I was finally catching up in cyberspace…my link to “reality.” Reality: that is what we always say although ironically I feel like life here is a lot more real most days. I saw this video on a blog I stalk and watched it 3 times (and that is commitment folks given our limited bandwidth here) and I sobbed. Because there is footage of this country that has become part of us and many places in the world I have never been but now see with new eyes. And although my life is still so far removed from the suffering of the world I do feel it more. It resonates in a place where my mind floods with stories and memories of countless hours spent here with people. They are my friends, my sisters, humans created in the image a loving God and pain everywhere affects us no matter where we are. I know women who work for hours a day to earn a dollar. Anni looked up from her coloring to see her Mama ugly crying and asked what was wrong. How to explain all I was feeling in those moments, I said “I am sad that people hurt so much in the world and it makes me hurt.” She and I watched it again and tears welled in her eyes too. She put her hand on my hand and said “let’s go right now and give them medicine.” A simple answer to profound problems but maybe we need more simplicity, more really just doing what Jesus said. I prayed right then that she would always have the courage to go where ever and when ever to serve those God places in her path and on her heart. And I prayed that for me too.
In college Sarah Mclachlan CD’s were oft heard on repeat blaring from my room when I was supposed to be studying. I can still sing them word for word, albeit completely off key. Her video and song spoke to me about my reality in light of God’s truth (even if girlfriend likes to drop the F@#% bomb occasionally).
The world’s on fire and
It’s more than I can handle
I’ll tap into the water
(Try and bring my share)
I try to bring more
More than I can handle
(Bring it to the table)
Bring what I am able
What am I able? What are you?That is the question that often robs me of sleep at night. It is worthy of reflection and time on our collective knees. I know I am not bringing all that I can, not even on my “good days” but I say we run this race together for only His glory, each one bringing what he is able and always being in it ‘more than we can handle.’ For we are without excuse and we know it. There is suffering and pain and brokenness and those that claim to love God must act. How we act is of course always debatable as we often struggle in exactly how to help here without robbing people of dignity and community. Watch this video and if it moves you please seek with me and share what you are able. Let us openly discuss, debate, share stories and experiences but let us never fail to help in love that costs us because we have given ourselves excuses. None of us has the answer but if we refuse to allow apathy to enter into our minds, hearts, and souls we can love wildly in this hurting world because we too are wounded and in need of healing. As always I have more questions than answers but I know I want to spend the rest of my days pursuing closeness to Him and His peace for all people everywhere.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
We are ambassadors. That was His plan. Let’s get busy because the world is on fire!