Dreams and Nightmares…
The past few weeks have been a facing of reality. The dreams that I’ve dreamed for so long, as well as the nightmares that are a very real part of life here in Africa. I love living life REAL. But, you have to live differently. The real that is so easy to ignore in a first world country is that God really is in control. I’m not yet sure how to do that–how to live that reality. For many years, I sensed God drawing my heart here…now I’m not sure day to day how to deal with the realities that I am seeing. I can stay in my home, stay on the compound, close my eyes and pretend it’s all normal, but really I can’t. And I don’t want to. This past week, mid-morning, Dave walked in and said, “Jewels, you need to come see this baby.” So, the kids and I stopped school and went up to the hospital where there was the most malnuourished 21 day old baby I’d ever seen with my own eyes. Maija just stood next to me, eyes wide, her heart open. She just looked upon this baby girl, rubbed her head…I know her heart –because it mirrored mine–overwhelmed with compassion, confusion, sadness. I just prayed. This little one, 3 weeks old had been abandoned when she was only a day old. They named her “Maxsino” ~ Tuesday. I guess she was found on a Tuesday. Her name would always tell a piece of her story. She looked like an old dying woman…her eyes bugling from her little head, her legs as thick as my thumb. She would cry and then close her eyes half way—half empty, but still –there was life.
This week at home went on. We schooled, had some really good days and some ugly ones. We had sweet moments and hard moments. My kids are strong and resilient and amazing, but they are still sinners. Now though, in our home, life feels peaceful and God is helping us to regain a sweet rhythm in our days.
Dave came home 3 times this week with a new heaviness…3 children died. Most were things that in the States could have been prevented. How do we learn this?
How do we learn that we aren’t in control? That HE is sovereign? That even in death, He hasn’t left his people? That even in death, He chooses and is to be blessed?
This morning, we woke to our Sabboth…we love this morning of the week here in Soddo town…it is a morning of rest and time with family…we started our day hard. Yesterday, we hiked near here, we saw children Maija’s age who had just walked for an hour and a half straight down to get water for their day. They had no shoes. Their clothes were torn. They were so thin. But they weren’t complaining or crying…they were smiling. They worked together, walked together…tried to survive together.
This morning we spoke of them. We were convicted by them. We had tiredness, we had some bad attitudes. I was tired. But Dave made his special Sunday breakfast. Worship was filling our walls. I hung laundry outside in the sun and wind. I thought of our gifts—of our privileges. One of mine—mine, who are so, so blessed, cried and complained about washing the dishes…in a sink with running water. Our life is not hard. We, as a family, have a new responsibility to love and serve differently here. Our eyes see things that need to change the way we live and think. It is difficult for Dave and I to process and change, so imagine for my kids. How do I live this out differently here in front of them? How do I trust more, rely more? How do I love when we’re grieving? Where do I place my expectations of them? Of myself? How do I lead them into the right way of seeing these realities that are now our new normal? How do I lead them to Jesus when I know they are processing things that they can’t even put words to yet?
The morning seemed to calm and turn…we ate and took in the Word…the Bread together. He fills us in ways we can’t. Little hearts were filled, big hearts too. They ran out into the beauty of this day happy.
The phone rang and my stomach sank as it always does when the Doctor’s phone rings. I only heard, “Are you bagging her?” He put on scrubs and my sweet husband in blue, ran across the field. I prayed as he left—knowing he’d be facing life and death again. Sometimes the weight on man is a weight only to be carried by God.
He came running back later in tears. Oh, the weight. The holding of a little life that doesn’t belong to us. God can give. He can take away. May He teach us to bless His Name no matter what He chooses.
Our day marches on. The kids are giggling outside with the puppies—gifts of God’s creation. I hold him tight and whisper, “We don’t get to choose.” He knows, and my words ring hollow. There is loss and grief and a letting go, day by day of what we’ve been convinced we had control of for so many years.
After some time, he breathes deep…he’s been praying, reading, searching his books, his memory. What else can he do? That’s all he wants—to do ALL he can. He walks slowly, head down, back to the hospital.
He returns with an awed spark in his eyes, shoulders still heavy. This little life has held on. God has chosen to give her breath at least for a few more hours. She is struggling…her 3 days of life have been a battle, just to breathe. Some days we all struggle just to breathe. But HE is the Sustainer. We can’t see or know the plans He has. It is a great release of Life. I pray we learn this..to pray and serve and pour out all we can–to offer up our lives and our moments, but never lose heart and never lose hope in HIS Love, in HIS heart.
The losses are too great. The joys are so high. Only in HIM is there the constant. The peace that passes all understanding of life and death—the peace that calms—the peace that is found only. In . Him.
I sit and write and pray while a little life fights. This, this is only the Lord’s. Blessed be His Name.
For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men. (Lamentations 3:31-33)