Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Kill

So a few nights ago I got to kill my very first snake :) I've seen a few (not tons) of varying lengths, shapes, and sizes... but this is the first one that I killed. Now... don't judge me too harshly... I realize that it's small... but when was the last time YOU killed a snake!? hehe

According to Dr. Rob, who loves to research snakes... this is a poisonous one, but not a lethal one (he found two options of what it could be)... sorry to disappoint but it's not a Black Mamba :P

Friday, October 23, 2009

Overwhelmed yet?

Yesterday I was down by the river in Gasmala with my friend Deborah... just enjoying our time, smiling at the wet and dark little bodies playing and laughing in the water, admiring the green all around us and the amazing thunder heads forming across the way...

All the serenity came to an abrupt end as, along the path, we came across a lady, well into her 60’s I would guess, ‘laying’ in a very uncomfortable position, twitching, in the throes of a seizure. As I came around the rest of the bush that had her half hidden, I looked into the bewildered faces of a few children standing by watching the scene unfold. I approached her on the other side I walked up from, knelt beside her head to get a better look at her face... did I know this woman? Her face was so distorted from the seizure that I couldn’t tell, but I noticed the necklace she had on and knew... I’d definitely greeted her this morning while I was sitting with my women having coffee – she had come by to visit with my friends. I said to one of the kids I recognized, ‘Who is she?’... ‘I don’t know’ they said... ‘Go get someone’, I requested – trying to imagine how to help this women with my little Mabaan, knowing full well that there wasn’t an adult around for a good distance. (that kid never did go).

The lifeguard in me took over the situation as I was drawn back to her face... at this point she was struggling to breathe around the phlegm/spit that had accumulated in her mouth, so Deb and I turned her onto her side, into the recovery position, and I held her head while the seizure eventually came to an end. Just as her body started to lay still once again, three older teen-aged girls who’d been swimming on the other side of the river, came over to see what the commotion was about, since our crowd of observing-and-not-helping children was growing. Again I looked down at this beautiful lady but this time, her eyes were starting to see, and you could tell that the fog left over from such an expenditure of energy was starting to clear. “What’s your name” I asked her... She looked at me, but said nothing... “Awa” one of the new girls came to her rescue.

At this point these girls seemed to think the best thing for her was to ‘get up and brush it off’, so they started to pull on her arms to get her up off the ground. “No. Leave her to rest” – the last thing we needed was her stumbling, half conscious, only to fall and injure herself. I was mulling over all my thoughts and observations: how she was acting, what questions I would ask if I could... and since I couldn’t, what could I attempt to ask her... and what in the world would have happened to her if no one was around... what would have happened if she had seized while IN the river that I was sure she had been planning to cross. By God’s Grace we don’t have to know the answer to that question.

I concluded that this was not the first time this woman had experienced a seizure since, as she was ‘coming too’ she never once said anything, looked confused, or asked what happened... she seemed all too aware of what had occurred.

Once she started to look around (even though I tried my best to make the onlookers leave, only two did) at all the faces peering down at her, I asked, “Do you want to drink water?” She nodded, so we helped her sit up for a long drink from my Nalgeene bottle. Deb and I were still discussing what in the world to do for her when she decided to stand up. Eventually, it was decided that the girls, who apparently knew of her would help her get across the river with her bag of grain (which had been dropped a few feet away) without it getting ruined (the river is above neck level now that the rainy season is coming to an end). So, we helped her find her shoes that had somehow been strewn in two different directions long before we came upon her, and then they headed a little further upstream to cross.

Deb and I sad on the edge of the river bank to watch the process – there was no way I was going anywhere until I saw those feet on terra firma on the other side. If anything happened to her between our bank and the other, I was goin’ in! No need – she crossed just fine, and was the strongest swimmer out of the younger entourage escorting her. Eventually she was across, dressed again, and on her way with her grain perched on her head, as it had been originally.

I walked away from the whole thing, quite frankly, really troubled and dissatisfied. Not so much with my inability to communicate with her, as my realization that it wouldn’t have mattered. What can be done for people in a land with no resources? For people with infections, ‘simple’ illnesses, or injures enough can be done to restore them, if not prevent it from occurring again. But for someone who had struggled with something like epilepsy for years, if not their whole lives, pretty much, next to nothing can be done. The meds she would need would require so much monitoring and adjusting, the resources are lacking and rather non-existent, and it would be a logistical impossibility. The answer?... to let her walk away... and pray that she felt even a little cared for in the process.

Overwhelmed yet?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"Well done, My good and faithful servant"

My Pappy is gone. Not far, in one sense – he’s with Jesus. But, so far that I’ll not see him on this earth ever again. It’s a hard one to wrap your head around at times, seeing as I’m so far away from the whole situation.

I’m filled with a mixture of sadness & grief, and joy & relief. You see, it’s been a long journey for my Pappy. His health has been a challenge for a good 12 or so years... I (in my head) have thought of him as a cat with 9 lives... no matter what has been thrown at this man, he has always seemed to land on his feet – literally even! The doctors told him after his first stroke that he’d most likely never walk again. But, my Pappy, the stubborn and determined farmer/fisherman, didn’t let them have the last say. Within a year he was on his feet and walking! These last 6-8 months have been a pretty steady decline for him, physically, and the more time that went by and the weaker he got, the more I found myself wishing that the Lord would just come and take him Home.

He was ready for it you know, in many ways. Most importantly he had everything right with his Savior – he was confident in his salvation through Faith in Jesus, and would tell anyone who asked him about his Faithful Lord who got him through many a though circumstance. Pappy has loved and served the Lord faithfully all my life, and way before that even. He has always given testimony of him with his life and with his words. Especially his stories. He has many of those – stories of angles who the Lord sent to help in difficult times, another one who he actually spoke with once, and other times when the Lord pressed him to pray for people and he later found out that it was a great time of need for them. All these and more I’ve grown up listening to my whole life. All of these I wish we’d taped – even though we talked about it numerous times, we never did do it.

Pappy had this certain way he’d move his head that I must say will always be one of the things that I’ll miss the most and remember the most. He would use it as if it was a wink – and perhaps he couldn’t wink, I’m not sure... but he’d catch your eye, do his little half smile and move his head from center to left and back again, in a little jerking fashion that I have grown to love and cherish over the years. For whatever reason it always made me feel special, and reflected the teasing nature we all loved so much about him. Even weak and in his hospital bed he managed to get one of these head-winks out to me as I sat at his bedside just a few weeks ago. I remember marking it in my memory, at the time, because it so struck me how much I’d miss that little trade mark of a man I’ve loved and respected for my whole life.

I remember thinking, for much of my life, actually, that I was Pappy’s favorite :) I’m not sure why, but I always thought we had a special bond – but, probably all of us grandkids felt that way, which speaks a lot about Pappy in and of itself. Anyway, I always thought I was special to him... I remember following him around the barn (this was back when I thought I had a ‘special way’ with animals too... man, the delusions of my childhood are all coming out!) wanting to help out with everything... milking the cows, fixing things, collecting the eggs... all of these chores were probably quickly forgotten as I inevitably drifted into the hay loft to play with the kittens and pretend to be a farmer myself. I also remember the smell of Pappy when he’d come in for lunch from being out in the barn. For a reason I’ll never know I have this very distinct memory of Pappy walking briskly across the yard, from the warehouse to the house, with that certain walk – not a limp, but a lilt perhaps, and whistling... he’d smell of hard work and hay and soil, most likely from the potatoes, and he was wearing those navy blue coveralls and those big boots...

“Heerrreee Kitty kitty kittyyyyyy!” He’d yell after our lunch time meal, giving the cats the plate scraps of whatever fabulous meal Nanny had just slaved over.

For as long as I can remember, Pappy has had his own name for me – maybe this was one of the reasons I thought I was extra special.... Pappy has always called me Christy. Yes of course there were times when he called me my full name, but never ‘Chris’ that I can recall – almost always Christy. This was so special to me that I never allowed anyone to call me Christy... even if I had just met them and they seemed to think that “Christiane” was too difficult to say or remember, and they asked if they could just call me ‘Christy’, I would say “no, actually, you can’t – only my Pappy calls me Christy.” It will remain this way until the day I die.

I have another really distinct memory of Pappy... first thing in the morning. I remember being really young – gosh, maybe 8 or younger even, asleep in the pink room, and hearing Pappy go down the stairs early in the morning... I’d wait for a while, maybe fall back to sleep even, but then I’d wake up, creep down the stairs – not go into the kitchen from the hall, but walk through the living room into the family room, see my Pappy kneeling at the couch with his head bowed Praying... He was always there when I woke up and I apparently loved it, because every morning I would ‘sneak’ into the room, crawl up on the ugly brown leather chair of his (which would always squeek and blow my cover) and sit and watch him until he’d finished. I don’t know what I’d think about or what I’d do... and the whole time I’d know Nanny was in the kitchen... but in there with Pappy was where I wanted to be. So, I’d wait for him to finish up with Jesus, then he’d sit back on his heels, turn to look at me and say, “Christy, let’s go have some eggs” :) That’s another thing... My Pappy makes the perfect soft boiled egg.

Pappy always loved to tell the story about me from when I was really little and he had me at the mall... Apparently I was about 2 maybe 3 and he, Janna and I were sitting out on one of the mall benches waiting for mom and nanny, and I had said or done something funny – I can’t remember – but whatever it was prompted a laugh out of Pappy... somehow it greatly offended the 2 year old in me because I walked over to him, reached up and slapped him across the face! My Pappy always laughed re-telling this (I always laugh too, but the really sorry, humiliated sort of laugh that brings tears to your eyes – not because it’s so funny but because you hate to hear it again), he’d do that “humph” laugh that would put his head back and say, “so I said to her, ‘M’lady, you’ll only ever do that to me once’...” and he was right.

One thing however, that touches me to this day, is a secret that Pappy and I share... so secret in fact, that I’m not sure even I remember it. I had been staying with Nanny and Pappy one summer – I was young – and sometime happened... I did something, something I shouldn’t have, and Pappy had to talk to me about it. Later on when Mom came back, pappy told her that something had happened, but he never told her what... He’d said, “It’s between Christy and me.” And after all these years, it’s remained that way. I can come up with something I think it might have been, but I’m not sure that even I know. But my Pappy would not break my confidence, he kept his word, and our secret remains until this day...

As I sit here writing this, tears streaming down my face, I realize that this is the only contribution, other than my prayers, that I can make to my Pappy’s Home-going. I was out in Gasmala when it all happened, and by the time I returned to Doro and my email, I’d missed it all, funeral too. I’m SO happy that my beloved Pappy is now with Jesus, I wouldn’t wish him back to this world for a moment. However, I would have loved to have joined my voice to the chorus of cousins who sang in his remembrance, or to have given some thoughts to my cousin Josh who spoke so well on behalf of the family and all us privileged grandchildren. But, for reasons I can only speculate, and possibly never understand, I do trust that my Lord knows what He’s doing, and I just wasn't meant, or needed, to be a part of it. So... this is my contribution; these insufficient words, in memory and gratitude of a man who loved the Lord faithfully and boldly his whole life, and who loved his family – all of us – so well.

I love you Pappy. I will cherish forever the things the Lord taught me through your life. It was certainly not in vain. You’ve fought the good fight, run the race, and now, received your prize, Jesus Himself, in full. I know for a fact, that on September 29th, the chorus of the cloud of witnesses got just a little fuller as this special man joined in the Praises of his Lord and Savior. Home at long last.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust’... ‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation’.” Isaiah 91:1-2,14-16

All my love to you Pappy.

Your Christy