Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with three women, who gave up many precious hours of their day and traveled many miles just to get to know me a little. Marc has been going to their fellowship gatherings frequently on Sunday mornings and always tells me how much I would enjoy going. They love Jesus and love each other.
Unfortunately, their meetings go long…many hours…and we don’t want to leave the children on their own at home for that long. And equally unfortunately, transporting the lot of us is not practical or financially possible. So yesterday, they came to me.
I appreciated their words of encouragement and their spiritual support, the promise of continued prayer.
I laughed at their enthusiasm about our family of eight children; they are convinced that Americans only have two children and that is “normal.” But I was sad as we asked each of the women, in turn, how many children they had.
We were six, now we are four.
We had six, now we are five.
We were nine, now we are eight.
We didn’t want to follow up with the question of what happened to the children who are now not with them. These weren’t miscarriages they were talking about (though that is a difficult enough loss), these were children held and fed and loved, for who knows how long a time before they succumbed to…what? Malnutrition? Disease? I can only guess. But the sad thing is, many women here share the same unfortunate reality: we were six, now we are four.
We have two cats and a dog and can buy Front Line for the dog, but there is no treatment for the cats. The best we can do is flea baths when we notice the little critters. Since the cats sit on the couches and sleep with some of us, we all endure a few days of itchy bites before the fleas meet their demise for another season. This week, about half our family has worked its way through malaria, in spite of there supposedly being few malaria-bearing mosquitoes at our elevation. And how did so many end up with it? Marc was both surprised and disturbed to find that fleas carry malaria, just like mosquitoes do. (Made us think of the Bubonic Plague, and shiver). So although we’d resisted chemical treatment for fleas, we sprayed down the carpet, the furniture, and the beds to get a little more aggressive against the disease-bearing intruders. And for us, though malaria has been a discomfort and an inconvenience, it’s highly treatable. With a visit to the local chemist, a few dollars, and a few days’ time, we’re working our way through it.
What do the visit with my sisters in Christ and our recent experience with malaria have to do with each other? Well, I would guess that one or more of those precious children might have suffered with malaria or something equally treatable. But their family didn’t have the money to get the medicine that is readily available. Such cases are all-too-common here.
This morning, I was reading Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, who serves in Uganda. She gives tirelessly of herself to serve “the least of these.” She removes jiggers, gives baths, provides medicine, offers food, and loves.
I want to do more. I’m trusting that God will show us just what it is He wants us to do next.