I am still trying to process today.
We woke up to the news that fellow missionary and friend Jeff Powers went to be with Jesus last night. We have been expecting this call for awhile now, but that didn't make it any easier to receive. It was heartbreaking to tell our New Day kids, who so faithfully prayed for Jeff for the last 14 months. Every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Superbowl we got together with Jeff & Staci for amazing food and fun. For Valentine's Day, Easter, and our kids' birthdays, Jeff always made sure our kids had a special gift. Every Saturday for a year Jeff came to New Day to teach Zambians Bible stories. It brought a smile to my face to listen to the Zambian women recall stories Jeff had told them that they now described as being "very much in our heads." We were with Staci when Jeff called from South Africa to tell her they had found spots on his pancreas. We watched her life change in a split second, and the Wilcoxes rushed her home to pack a suitcase and put her on a flight the next day. Since that time, there has not been a Wednesday go by that our New Day kids have not asked for prayer for "Uncle Jeff & Aunt Staci." They understand that Uncle Jeff is in heaven now, and that he is with Precious and Jesus.
Because of this and just the sadness of the day, I REALLY did not want to go to my youth girls' Bible study across the river. The girls are young, sometimes don't really listen, and it is hard to build relationships with 12 year old girls who don't speak English. I offered to cancel since we only have one rickety truck here this weekend, and tried to think of other ways to get out of going, but alas, I loaded up our intern Mackenzie and off we went.
The Bible study actually went well today, though I was obviously distracted. I knew I needed to walk to Maxwell & Priscilla's house afterwards to let them know about Jeff, which I was dreading. Priscilla gave birth to a little girl 2 months ago that she named Staci - everyone loved the Powers. Maxwell and Priscilla had already heard the news, so I was relieved to head back home and enjoy some time with my family. I had heard yesterday that one of the church ladies, Dorothy, was very sick, so we stopped by her hut to see her before we left.
You would think after living in Zambia for 6 1/2 years, I would get used to some things, but what I saw literally brought me to my knees. As we walk up to the tiny hut (partially burned due to a fire 2 months ago accidentally set by her grandson), I see a lumpy blanket on the ground. Dorothy was wrapped up inside that blanket, on the ground outside her hut. A few kids were running around playing. We walked up and I dropped to my knees. Priscilla rushed around trying to find us stools to sit on and worried about my skirt getting dirty, but I couldn't take my eyes off of Dorothy on the ground. I knelt beside her and greeted her quietly. "Dorothy, where do you hurt?" She gasped in short breaths and moaned. "Mutwe. Mubili." Her head, her body. Dorothy has a disease that is ravishing her body, and we have watched her literally waste away over the past 4 years. "Have you gone to the clinic? Why not?" She moans, "No money." I quickly looked up at Priscilla and ask her if we can take Dorothy to the clinic. "Yes!" she agrees. "It's two kwacha." That's thirty-three cents. Dorothy didn't have thirty-three cents. Ironically, neither did I, not with me. I asked Priscilla if she could find two kwacha and promised to repay her. I backed the truck into the tiny dirt yard with Mackenzie's help. We both helped Dorothy into the truck. Over the next hour, we picked up two other women and drove to the clinic. Dorothy was admitted, for the cost of fifty ngwee - eight cents.
As I drove home in the setting sun and the rising full moon, my head was spinning. This woman did not have eight cents to go to the clinic. She lay in the dirt outside her hut, clinging to life. I am usually a planner and don't do spur of the moment things, but I physically was unable to leave Dorothy there. If she is going to die, she at least deserves to die on a mattress. I returned home and ate supper with my family, trying to ignore my kids' complaints about the meat being chewy. We have meat to eat. My husband does not have pancreatic cancer. I have a mattress. And I have eight cents.
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4 Come quickly, Lord Jesus.