So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
-Into the Wild
Every time I read this quote it reminds me of my best friend Reid. He’s living his own story right now and enjoying his own adventure in Spain. He has been there since September of 2009 so our conversations now are limited to the internet. Before I left for Uganda he sent me this quote in an email as an encouragement for the “Journey” I was about to partake in. To some I may tend to do things that are considered “out of the norm”, but compared to Reid my risk factor is considered mild. While I don’t consider myself risk-avert I definitely don’t consider myself an “extreme” risk taker either. Reid is definitely an “extreme” risk taker. He is one who will do a double back flip off a 70 foot cliff, and whenever we go skiing, even though we usually only go once a year if that, he always wants the first run we do to be a double black! Somehow I always end up caving in and joining him on these seemingly irresponsible adventures. I have always envied his complete disregard for personal safety. I know that sounds like an audacious accusation, but in a sense it has allowed him to live a life of freedom that most of us are only able to read about in books. I believe I tend to do things that would have most saying “what was he thinking?” but by having a best friend like Reid I have been able to find a happy medium in the “risk-factor” area of my life. I still may come across to some as reckless and irresponsible, but my biggest fear as of recently would be to quench the spirit that is at work within me, and this often requires one to step out on a limb that’s foundation might not be as strong as one would hope. I don’t know why the Lord wired me the way he did, but I am thankful that I would not be satisfied with a life spent in a cubicle endlessly crunching numbers in a spreadsheet. Not to take away from those who do this for a living its just not who God wired me to be, but more power to you for having the patience and ability to perform these necessary and tedious tasks.
Everyday in Africa there is an endlessly changing horizon. There is no such thing as a “secure future” and to alleviate risk, as we Americans are so keen in to doing, is a seemingly impossible task. Each and everyday brings a new and different sun, and my thirst for adventure has never been as satisfied as it is here. This week I was able to partake in my greatest adventure as of yet, and it was a challenging one nonetheless.
Each time we visit Mercy Home we usually walk down to the nearest shop (which is about a half mile) to buy tomatoes and onions to add some flavor to the food. On our walk there this past Saturday Mercy wanted to tag along, so of course I couldn’t deny her this request. We made it all the way to the shop without one complaint, and to reward her for her good behavior I bought her a juice box and a piece of cake, which she devoured in no time. After experiencing a full belly the walk home was a little more difficult for her so she wanted me to carry her back. As I started the trek back to Mercy Home with Mercy in my arms I noticed small white bumps on her face that were starting to make their way down her neck and back. She had also developed a pretty intense sounding cough and her stomach was enlarged even more so than usual. At first I thought it was probably just a bad case of worms, but after finally gathering information regarding her family history I started to get worried with what this may be. Her mom died when she was very young and after this her father, who is 17 now, started losing his mind and was unable to take care of her. She also has an older brother who has a twin, but the twin died two summers ago for unknown reasons. After learning all this I got a little skeptical and decided to take Mercy to the doctor to get some tests run. I wanted to be sure it was only worms and got her checked for HIV and malaria. I got an up-close and personal glance into the world of fatherhood, and after experiencing a doctor visit with a 2 and a half year old little girl I now understand the importance of mothers.
Mercy was as calm as she could be the entire drive to the doctor office and even got to enjoy another juice box and piece of cake. We finally reached the doctors office and she was still as relaxed as she could be. Even though she held my hand as if she were clinging to her own life, the odd man in the white suit probing her belly still didn’t seem to faze her. She was handling herself like a champion, until... out comes the needle! If you ever want to experience the sound of a two year old thinking the world is coming to an end just show them a 2 inch needle that’s about to break the surface of their skin. I don’t know who was more traumatized, her or me having to hold her down as she kicked and screamed waiting for the procedure to get underway. As much as the nurses and myself tried and tried to explain to her that everything was going to be ok and it was all for her benefit she still would not calm down. The screaming actually intensified to an uncomfortable volume. It was probably the toughest thing I have ever had to do in my life and in an instant I found myself thinking “Please let me take the needle for her! Let me take the pain I can handle it, just stop hurting her!” Knowing that this would not be of any benefit to Mercy I sat and watched helplessly as the needle pierced her skin. Watching her go through this obvious traumatic experience reminded me of how God must feel when he sees us going through hard times. All I wanted was for Mercy to understand that even though it may hurt in this moment the pain she had to experience was ultimately going to help her in the long run. I think in a way this is how God feels when we go through tough times. It hurts Him to watch the pain we are going through, but he lets us go through it anyways to grow us into the people we are called to be. He just wants us to understand that its necessary for us to go through these difficult times so that we can draw closer to Him and rely on Him for strength through it all. After everything was done it took some time to calm little Mercy down. All she wanted to do was curl up in my lap and go to sleep. I was worried at first that she would start associating me with the man who let her go through something so painful, but after some time passed and I got her a juice box she got over her turmoil. The doctor visit must have really taken a toll on her because she feel asleep holding onto my arm the entire car ride home. It was the perfect end to the greatest adventure I have experienced to date.
I am pleased to report that both the malaria and the HIV test came back negative! She does however have a lung infection and a pretty bad case of worms. Because the kids sometimes don’t even get one meal a day they often get so hungry that they start eating dirt and anything else they can get their hands on. Needless to say every one of them has worms and no way to pay for the treatment to get de-wormed. They are supposed to get de-wormed every 2 months but because of lack of funds they haven’t been since September of 2009. It costs about $10 a child for the pills and there are 102 now who still haven’t been de-wormed. We are now trying to feed the kid’s everyday and working to de-worm as many as we can. Because of this funds are starting to dwindle. We estimated the price to feed the kids everyday for a month is around $1300. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t ask this, but if anyone reading this desires to give any contribution to helping the children of Mercy Home please donate. I have quickly realized I cannot do this without help and I thank all of you who have already contributed. Checks can be made out to Asbury United Methodist Church and given to Suzanne Owens. She is the one who makes sure the money gets over here and is used in the manner in which you want it to be used. If anyone desires any more information regarding this please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be sure to get you in touch with the right people.
And a special Happy Birthday to Patrick. Allen and I had never made a cake before but we tried our best for Patrick's birthday. I think it turned out pretty good if I must say so myself!