Wednesday, March 18, 2009
To the Ends of the Earth
Our team piled into a Jeep one day to go on a Home Based Care visit. Faith Alive has a team which takes medical care and reaches out to the sick who cannot get to the hospital.
It had been a day of pouring down rain. We did not know where we were going or how far it would be. After leaving the town of Jos, we suddenly were driving down dirt roads. It became very bumpy and muddy. The rainwater was rushing down the roads. We were going through country roads that then turned into fields. We were actually going through crops. The Jeep was bouncing all over the place and I began to get scared. I thought for sure we wouldn't make it. Me and another team member who were - let's just say a little older than the rest of the team - were holding on for dear life and praying. The young team members thought it was a great adventure. Our team leader, Jason, kept calmly reading his book! He had gone through this adventure the year before. The Home Based Care team was used to this. They just said "...we will get there".
After calming down, I began to really notice the countryside. It was beautiful. The rain had stopped. The sky was full of huge, billowy, low-hanging clouds. There are certain trees in Africa that have a distinct shape. They have very wide branches but are not very tall. There were hills in the background. We saw different fields and crops. It really was beautiful.The Jeep pulled over on the side of the road. We looked at each other like "are we here?". All we saw were fields and trees again. Yes we had arrived safely at our destination. The patient's children were waiting there for us. We then walked with them down a long, winding, rocky path to the patient's home.
It was a mud hut. It was so shocking to see this. Yes I had seen documentaries of this type of situation, but here I was and this was real. The hut was practically empty. They had very little belongings. As it turned out, the patient wasn't there. She was feeling better so she went to visit her sister. This was good news. But the mud hut roof was leaking badly, so the Home Based Care team and Jason put a large piece of heavy plastic on the roof. The children watched as they did this. Their clothes were not in very good condition. I was touched by their quiet dignity as they watched the roof being repaired.
As this was happening, I just kind of looked around. I thought to myself - how did these people live in the middle of nowhere, in a mud hut with nothing. A few bowls and some blankets were all we could see. Me and a couple of team members walked around to the back of the hut and realized we were on a rocky cliff. We all just kind of stood there. The view off of the cliff was shockingly beautiful. It was of a hilly countryside. This mom and her children had nothing materially. I tried to imagine if they would sometimes come and sit back there and just take in the view.
We walked down the rocky path to the Jeep to leave. The children walked with us. A member of the Home Based care team, I believe her name was Florence, stopped under one of the trees. It had started to begin pouring down rain again. Florence put her arms high in the air and began to pray. She gave thanks for us. I thought to myself - what did we do? This is one of the pictures that remains strong in my mind. Florence, with her hands held high, praising and thanking God. I can see our team standing there with bowed heads under this wide African tree. All of us in the middle of nowhere in the pouring down rain.
And I was thankful. I was thankful to God for letting me be in Nigeria, in that moment, to witness what real faith is all about. I was filled with awe how this Home Based Care team did this kind of work every day. They would help in any way they can even if it means repairing a roof. Sometimes all they can provide is a small task and some hope. They do everything they can even when it is extremely hard to get there. I felt like I had gone to the "ends of the earth" that day. It brought to mind the scripture verse our team was given by Father White before we left:
"And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Sumeria, and to the ends of the earth"