Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The lessons of Malaria

As I mentioned in my last post, things have gotten worse around here lately.  Having my things stolen is one way to really get me and make me hate Uganda, but the other is my health.  It is exhausting being sick here.  Monday morning I woke up to wake the boys up for school and was fine.  I was awake for maybe 30 minutes and then all of a sudden, like someone flipped a switch, I was dying.  My whole body hurt, I felt like I was 500 years old as all of my joints hurt and I had no energy, and my head was exploding with the worst headache I have ever felt.  I knew immediately that it was malaria.

So I mustered up all of the energy I could to walk to the clinic.  Sure enough, they tested my blood and it wasn't just malaria but severe malaria.  They gave me an injection and told me to come back 2 more times for more and then I would have to take pills.  Yesterday goes on the list of worst days of my life.  I felt like I was dying all day and was waiting for my head to explode at any moment.  It was excruciating and torture.  I have never been in more pain in my life.  It left me to contemplate why no one has figured out how to eradicate malaria here.  They did it in the US, why not here?  I never understood how bad it really was until I had it.  Even as I type this, I have a slight headache and no energy.  There is no reason, on this earth, for there to still be malaria.  It has to be a terrible way to die and so many people die from it every year.  It is senseless and ridiculous.  Yesterday was torture.  I can't imagine having to continue with life as normal when you have it.  At least I was able to stay in bed and do nothing.  Most Ugandans still have to work, take care of kids, cook, etc.  There is no day off for them.  I don't know they manage.  Laying down was even too much work for me.

Anyway, once again in the midst of my torture God showed up.  There's a certain boy that I have a really long history with.  He knows I love him but he always tests me.  This usually ends up in epic battles that leave us arguing for a long time.  He knows I would do anything for him but somehow he doesn't always believe it.  He has been disappointed too many times and probably thinks I will do the same.  I reassure and reassure him, but it is never enough. 

When I got home from the clinic, he came into my room to check on me.  When he saw that I wasn't doing so good, he sat on the floor and held my hand as I tried to sleep.  He was so cute and sympathetic.  He put his head on my bed and just sat there for a long time.  When he finally spoke, he was so worried about me and I think he thought I was going to die and leave him. 

The speech that came next, could have been a death bed speech.  It was worthy of an Oscar and could have been in any Hollywood movie, but I meant every word and thanks be to Jesus that I live another day and it is really going to come true.  He was worried that since I was so sick, I was never going to recover and there would be no one to take care of him or the other boys or fight for them.  I told him that I loved him more than anything and would do anything for him.  I promised him that God wouldn't take me away from him because it was God that brought us together.  I told him that God knew how much we needed each other, so He couldn't separate us now.  I told him that everything would be fine and I will always fight for him no matter what.  Even if I don't have the strength, I knew God will give me His.  I told him that he was going to have a great life and that I was sorry that life has sucked so far for him, so much so that he can't believe it will be different now.  But I promised him it would.  I told him that I knew he was going to grow up and be a great lawyer that fights against injustice and stands up for people that are persecuted.  I told him that I knew he was going to find a girl that makes him so happy and he would be a great father and I would love his kids just like I love him because they are his.  I told him that we would sit around the dinner table when I am 80, laughing and telling his kids stories about how he used to drive me crazy.  He laughed at the thought and maybe he started to believe it.

He isn't usually a mushy kid.  I know he loves me, but he isn't one to show it so much.  But yesterday, he was vulnerable.  He showed me his fear and his worries.  I worry the same thing too.  If something happens to me, what will happen to these kids?  I've been here for him for almost 3 years now.  The one constant in his life.  The same for the others.  And the thought of losing me was too much.  It sent his world crashing down on him.  Today I am better and out of bed and we are all happy again.  But the memory of yesterday is still with us.  It is difficult for these kids to believe that they have a future.  Life hasn't worked out at all for them up to this point and they all believe that I will just be one more person that leaves.  All of the promises in the world aren't enough to make them see the future I see.  But one day, the future will be here and I will still be with them and they will see that I kept all of my promises.

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