So it looks like Casey and I will both be updating the blog when we can, and sharing our separate stories of what we are experiencing here. We want to thank you for your responses on the blog – they always make us smile! We love you all!
While some of our experiences are shared, we are already getting involved in some different ministries here to use our different gifts. I am working with a social worker named Jess at the Living Hope clinic here. It is a clinic for people who are very sick, most with AIDS, but also other life threatening diseases. Today I had a meeting with the doctor, social worker, and head nurses about each of the patients and their development. Their goal at the clinic is to rehabilitate the patients and move them back home or to anther more permanent medical clinic if needed. I have met most of the patients at this point, but it is so challenging to actually do what I have been called here to do! I know that I must sit, be present with these people, get to know them, and love them in the name of Christ. But wow, it is so hard and uncomfortable, and I think I would rather be building a home!! My eyes are already opened to our attitudes towards ‘missions’ and our goals of accomplishing so much. Maybe some of the greatest gifts we could give the people we serve is just to be present with them and love on them a bit. Tough stuff!!
I also went on Tuesday afternoon to a township called Oceanview where they hold a weekly support group for parents living with HIV. It is staggering to see how many people are either infected by the disease or just AFFECTED by the disease, like family members and children. It is everywhere here. I am reading a book called “The AIDS Crisis,” and it gave me some shocking statistics:
·38.6 million people were reported to be living with the virus in 2005
·Africa has only 10% of the world’s population but bears almost 64% percent of the global burden of AIDS
·The problem of AIDS is heaped onto the already growing problems of poverty and ethnic conflict, among others
·South Africa reports that 18.8% of the population is affected with the virus, and approximately 30% of pregnant women are HIV positive
·Today South Africa has the second largest number of people with AIDS in the world
·It has been claimed that the AIDS epidemic will go down in history as one of the greatest pandemics of all time
So weekly I will be at a health clinic in the Oceanview township working with a nurse to lead this support group of HIV infected parents. I went on Tuesday to meet the group members, and it was such a humbling experience. First of all, I felt incredibly overdressed, clean, and ‘together.’ It just feels silly for me to be in this environment, as I know I have no experience with this disease, and I feel completely inadequate to be ministering to these people. BUT I truly do trust that the Lord is putting me where He wants me and will use me for his purposes. And I am already learning so much from these people, as one woman shared with the group that having HIV has taught her that the first and most important thing in her life is that she is at peace with herself and with Jesus. Amen, and that is most important in my life too.
Please pray that God would give me wisdom and grace as I begin to meet these people more and more and care for them. I pray that I will be able to love them well and believe in the abundant lives that God still wants for them, infected or not.
Love you all!