Friday, July 17, 2009

Seeing a man with AIDS

It is of my opinion that Africa is, without a doubt, God’s country & Swazi people are surely blessed with relationships that we, Americans, only read about from days of the prairie. I was walking today with some Care Givers that go into homesteads of the sick, and along the way people would stop what they were doing, greet and chat with us briefly - It is the Swazi way. God made it clear to me before leaving for this wonderful land that even though I was thrilled to be going and “doing” for them… “Relationships” were going to be on the main menu – He was right.

I am amazingly comfortable and at home with everything and everyone here. Even the Aids infected man that I was privileged to visit with today. Walking up upon his mud shack, he was already laying outside on a torn up mat in the dirt soaking in the sun that had been missing the last day or so. His clothing was torn up, old, filthy and clearly too large for his thinned skeleton frame. He was missing patches of his grayed, matted hair, missing teeth, & he spoke in SiSwati of the sores up his boney legs and along the torso of his body. His feet were bothering him as well and were obviously swollen. He spoke with our Care Givers & I was asked (and completely honored) to pray for this man. Afterwards, he expressed that he hoped God would bless me for praying for him... this took me back. I was not there for God’s blessing but only praying that God would
bless him with peace and comfort. Even in his weak and sick state he was thinking about God blessing me. I asked permission to have a photo with the man & our small group. He gracefully agreed and we squatted down next to him as I placed my hand on his back – except I felt nothing there - just his protruding shoulder blade. I took another photo of just him in front of his homestead as the others had walked ahead. I considered showing him the picture but was concerned he wouldn’t take to his reflection, but I’m glad I didn’t listen to that deception. His smile was huge when I handed him the camera that showed him as he was in all his glory. It was a joyful point and yet admittedly I realized that if that had been me, I would have been only focused on my horrible appearance and what others would think. A humbling experience and a lot was learned today from this wonderful, poor man. This place is strangely beautiful. I feel so at home here… did I mention that already?

The little orphan children that have surrounded us these last few days are so full of life and laughter… and dirt :) They run around the church grounds and play while some serious construction of a new building is being built around the children. Its sole purpose will be for the use of assisting these OVCs (Orphans & Vulnerable Children). You see the nails, wet concrete, holes dug for support poles in the beautiful red soil, men hand sawing and using machetes to notch boulders… all happening with the children weaving in, out and amongst the chaos, dodging the men passing with their building materials. In the back of my mind I’m thinking of safety, but oddly it’s all okay. Even the little boy throwing rocks at the horned cattle that had wondered over to graze near the orphan’s outdoor hut on the property seemed to be of no concern. And, the nails from the ground that are used by the children to bang on poles seem to not raise an eyebrow. Everyone here seems so at ease. It’s amazing & I strangely long for their attitudes. I feel so at home here… have I mentioned this yet?

Our connections with people here – the shakers and movers, are incredible. Pastor Arnau Van Wyngaard and Shorty really make things happen. The Care Givers that we have met so far work for nothing and yet choose to give their time, talents & treasures. There are even men in this group, and that is not characteristic of the culture here I’m told. God Bless them all! It would take this short story into a novel if I wrote of how extraordinary these people are and all they do and go through on a daily basis. You will just have to trust me & wait for me to write and tell of it after my return. I love this place – I feel so at home here… have I mentioned this already?


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