Keep me responsible, be it a light or heavy load
The past few weeks and days have been a pretty overwhelming range of emotions. There's the usual ups and downs of settling into anything new. I am very blessed to be where I am and the support that I have, but you can't help feeling loneliness when you're separated from everyone who knows you best. I've only been gone a few weeks, but it's amazing how isolated how I feel from everything going on at home. Everything I can possibly feel, I think I've felt over the past weeks. I've been excited over being here and had a strong sense of purpose and love for the kids at Lily. Frustrated, when I was trying to care for a newly diagnosed diabetic child discharged from the hospital with no testing supplies and no instructions. Elated, over the unbelievable beauty of the sunset in Natal.
God has been gracious to provide me with strength and comfort and in the times I've been struggling. The morning after I spent 5 hours just trying to check a child's blood sugar while feeling miserable because I was getting sick and feeling completely alone, one of the children knocked on my door. She had drawn me a picture and written me a note that said (this is an exact quote), “I love you sooooo munch. You are a good nurse. You are a girl. God bless you.” It was so sweet, and funny. And a reminder that I wasn't here so that I could be comfortable or relaxed.
I was in Durban for the first time the other day on a hospital trip for one of the kids and we drove down this side street and right past a squatter camp. Durban is a fairly modern city with huge shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. And right in the middle of this there was a squatter camp, metal shacks propped up with tires and bricks holding down the “roofs” so they wouldn't blow away. No electricity, no running water, no anything but makeshift shelter. Three children were walking over piles of garbage with bare feet. I looked on the other side of the road, and there were these huge mansions up the side of this hill that could see the camp from their front door. I couldn't believe it. I started to think about how in the world these wealthy people could possibly live their lives that way, and then I was completely ashamed of myself.
Because it struck me that I was just as aware of these needs when I was sitting in my apartment in Nashville. I knew they were there. Just because I didn't see them out my window every morning didn't mean I was any less informed. I didn't need to see the destitution in the township of Mophela to know that it existed. I didn't have to see children walking in piles of trash to know that it was happening. I can criticize someone else and say with my head that they have more responsibility than me to care for the poor at the end of their driveway, but I know in my heart that the burden to care for the children of God is mine. Yours and mine. To bind up the brokenhearted, wherever we find them.
On a somewhat lighter note, I am learning to take certain things in stride since I got to Africa. Daily power outages? No problem. No shower? At least I have running water. Frogs in the house? They won't kill me. And the bugs. Extremely noisy crickets like to hide under our furniture. I kid you not, the other day I saw a beetle that was literally the size of a small turtle. At least it was outside and not in. And this morning I was attacked by ants that looked more like small spiders. But umm, one thing I will not be adjusting to is bats. Yes, last night I realized there were bats. Flying very low. Over my head. I have not run that fast in a long time. So at least I'm exercising!