Well, it's time to send some updates from the health clinic that I have been working at here. It was formerly called the Hospice clinic, but because of the success of the ARV drugs given to HIV patients, less and less people are actually dying of AIDS. So they rarely see death at the clinic, and patients are often there for long periods of time. A blessing in that is that I have gotten to know some of them pretty well, as I drop in and out throughout the week to visit them. This was a week of new beginnings and bittersweet endings.
Early in the week I came for a visit and spoke with my friend Malcolm. Malcolm has diabetes, and because of it has lost his leg. With other illnesses as well, it has taken a very long time for the stump to heal, and most days Malcolm just lays in his bed. I struggled working with Malcolm from the beginning because I sensed he was a bit apathetic and really didn't want to work towards actually getting better. Each day just came and went. So this week I was taken aback to hear Malcolm excitedly say he was being moved to a new clinic for two weeks for intensive rehabilitation. We talked at length about it, and he was aware that he was going to have to work hard and suffer through some pain, but he was ready to walk and get healthy again. For the first time ever I heard him say that he wanted to get on with his life. It was so special to celebrate with Malcolm because people so often give up in the clinic, and he has decided not too. I pray that he works hard towards health in the next two weeks, but more I pray that he dreams big for what his life could still be after leaving the clinic.
Conversely, the week closed with a poignant ending. My friend Patricia, that I have spoke about on previous blogs, was an elderly lady in the clinic suffering from various illnesses. In the past few weeks her health had taken a dive, and it was clear she was coming to the end of her life. I came to visit her often, and just sat with her praying for her and stroking her hand and hair. When I came early in the week her eyes were clouded over and she could barely recognize me or even move. It was deeply painful to see her in this agonizing state, and I prayed for peace and that she would let go. She said to me recently that she doesn’t have any more family and no one to talk to, so she would spend all day in her bed just talking to Jesus. I know she found great contentment in our Lord. I learned on Thursday that she passed away early that morning. What is beautiful is that her friends from her church came and sang around her and prayed for her on Wednesday, and after that, the nurses shared that she was finally able to surrender and stop fighting. She let go to meet her Maker. I talked with many different people working for Living Hope yesterday, and they all shared beautiful memories of this sweet lady who touched many lives. I feel so privileged to have been able to share some moments with Patricia, and I will always remember her beautiful spirit and the way she would call me her ‘darling.’
As I was talking yesterday to a friend named Pat, a missionary working here, she shared something fascinating about the African people. She said that it has been uncovered that until recently, many African languages didn’t even have a word for ‘tomorrow.’ It wasn’t necessary, and evidently tomorrow wasn’t something they really thought about. This was profound to me, as I have seen for myself a struggle for the African people I know here to vision about what they could see tomorrow, both in our world and in the next life. In one week I was able to share life with two South Africans both moving courageously towards tomorrow, one in this life, and one in the next. God has so much for our tomorrows, and may we live each day fulfilling more and more of those dreams.