It’s 1:50 am on Wednesday morning in Gulu so it’s 5:50 pm on Tuesday in Nashville. The thunderstorms have been relentless for the past hour. I worry that the rains will make the dirt roads to our next village impassable. I feel a deep need to be there. To miss today’s delivery would mean 75 children will not get their beds – or maybe they will, but without our presence. So they get their beds, probably later but they don’t get, and we don’t get, the benefit of the human connection of people seeing people care, and people seeing people in need and trying to meet that need, or some small part of it. The villages around Gulu are places of need. The huts they live in are primitive, the prospects of AIDS or malaria ever present, and the hopes for the future minimal, especially as many villages are too far away from the nearest school. The people in these places are people of great need, but we are in great need as well. I need to know that these children and their caregivers know that I care. I need that. It helps with the sadness I feel as someone who needs God to know that I love Him. Maybe I don’t feel really right about myself and maybe I want to earn God’s blessing. I know the perversion of this type of thinking but, to be fair, I think it often. I really am not worthy of Gods love and I pretty much prove it every day. But being here, and trying to comfort a little girl named Megan, gives me my sense of significance. I pray for the rains to stop and the wind to dry the ground.
I met Megan today and I found myself grieving over her before I gave up on sleep and surrendered to the storms and started typing my thoughts. Megan is little, she has HIV, she has worms, she has no father, her mother died three years ago of AIDS, and her caregiver uncle has HIV as well. They live in a mud hut and I wonder if her new mattress will get wet. To be cynical, it seems only proper, doesn’t it? Here she is:
I am typically a cynic when I think the way I think. I do much better when I think the way the Indwelling Holy Spirit teaches me to think. I think Megan might be better off dead and in the arms of Jesus right now. But then I am reminded that God creates us all for a magnificent purpose and Megan deserves the chance to know her beautifully created plan. But it’s not going to happen if I don’t learn to care more, and more people learn to start caring at all. Oh, Megan may survive AIDS, but then she must learn to survive without her uncle because, well, I just don’t think he is going to live much longer. There are a few other adults in her little community of huts, but I don’t trust them. I am sure they are good people, but they are all struggling. Then there are the worms which can be treated with medications and the ever present chance of Malaria. The deck is stacked. I hope she is dry right now and maybe, for whatever reason, feeling just a little bit loved.
On a related note, as one who likes to trust but verify everything, the visit to Megan’s little mud hut was breathtaking. I look at the pictures and I think this has to be staged, but then I remind myself that I was there. Her uncle testified to their condition, and it was a horrible one. So we do get before and after pics. That seems pretty staged, right? Well it’s a fair representation of the hut before her bed was placed and afterward. Clearly the most valuable thing they own right now, other than their daily ARV medicine, is that $50 bed. 50 bucks for a bed. Is it really going to matter? Would you rather Megan be sleeping on a Sweet Sleep bed tonight or the wet mat it replaced?