Wednesday, November 8, 2017

“In times of adversity, you will realize who is there for you. The struggle is real and those who walk with you with love, are honorable true friends.” ― Angie Karan

                   One of the most wonderful things about life are relationships.  This should not be news to any of you. However, it seems we do need to be reminded now and then that things, honors, awards, money in our bank accounts, the size of our houses, the titles on our office—things we think are important—aren’t.  When life hits you hard, you learn about relationships: the ones you didn’t know were so strong and the ones that weren’t what you thought they were.  When Karen fell, John and I tried calling anyone and everyone, but phones were off, or being charged, or out of minutes, and we just weren’t getting through to anyone.  Then John got on Facebook messenger and Samantha came immediately.  (Samantha Archer is an Australian Anglican missionary who with her husband and five children live near us and have been here for ten years.)  Having her here, a familiar, caring face with a soothing voice was a pearl beyond price.  A taxi driver we knew went to Shaban’s house since his phone was broken and brought him here.  Now doing things here in the middle of the night is not the same as other places.  It’s dangerous, there are no streetlights—it’s just damned different and difficult, but the doctor came.  By the time Samantha drove me to the hospital, following the doctor, there were almost twenty people there to help.  As the days went forward, those who really cared became visible and real.  Kellee Cogdill, a Baptist missionary, cooked us some home-made Southern fried chicken and drove it down to us, getting a speeding ticket in the process (we covered that cost).  Kellee is southern and the chicken was incredible.  We let Shaban and Racho each have one piece, and they couldn’t believe chicken could taste that good.  Kellee’s husband came, too, and was just quietly there—which was amazing support without voice.  Matt, Samantha’s husband, also came and prayed with us.  Support came from all over.  From the U.S. Embassy, from the Hindu folks in Mwanza, from family and friends.  One of my cousins wrote that though we hadn’t seen each other since we were teenagers, it was still just like it was yesterday.  
                        Support, emotional, physical, logistical, financial, and medical came from people we seldom saw yet who loved and cared for us as only happens when Christ’s commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” is put into practice.  Support came from all over the world, came by email, sms, messenger, Google Hangout, and as I wrote yesterday, from an old man standing across from us quietly holding his hand over his heart and saying nothing yet speaking volumes.  The woman from SimuSolar in Mwanza who came by bus (a two-hour ride one way) just to help clean and organize who also brought food and turns out went to college in Boston was another surprise.  There is no way to thank all of those who helped—but they didn’t do what they did in order to be thanked.  They did what they did because they loved and cared.  We all do and have done things like that.  Sometimes, we get thanks for caring acts that we have already forgotten that we did.  It’s like that when you are living in imitation of Christ.  I got short messages that hit me in the heart from men who had lost their wives, from wives who had lost husbands, and from a mother who had lost her son.  Those were special because those knew the power of that pain.  One of the great blessings that Christ gave us is just that—the power to lessen other’s pain.  There are always some who are well intentioned but who cause hurt and distress rather than bringing comfort.  I remember that every time Karen was pregnant there were always women who felt the need to tell her horror stories about pregnancy.  There will always be people who think they know how you should be grieving and may even get mad at you because to them you aren’t doing it right.  Those should just be forgiven but not allowed to remain in contact when what you need is support, comfort, and love.  There is no correct way to grieve, no correct way to respond to the death of a loved one, no correct way to interact—only the way that God guides you to do it.  Remember that you must always be kind, first, be kind, second, and be kind, always.  I will get through this.  It won’t ever go away, and there will always be pain, but there is also life and children who are hungry and need love.  God has shown me the way I need to travel.  God not only knows where He is taking me, but He also knows how to get me there.  That is true for you, too.  Make sure those important to you know how much you love them.  When things go bad, those people will be the first to be there for you, no matter what.
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