Many pastors and mentors have told me many times that following Christ’s footsteps would have a price. I have read, listened and even counseled, “The way of the cross is hard. Expect trials. Endure. Maintain an attitude of expectant faith.” But even when I know this, I still can get shocked sometimes by the trials that indeed come.
Well the past 4 weeks have been a veritable summer camp of crisis in my life! I even need a table to show the full breadth of “activities”:
|I finally got malaria|
|Uganda is a hot place; so I always feel like I have a fever. But in mid-June I could tell something more was going on. After insistence from my staff, I visited the clinic and was tested for malaria. Sure enough, I was finally a real Ugandan. Malaria is a norm here and even with all our protective steps, sometimes you just get malaria.||I am convinced that this was the easiest form of malaria ever. I was basically exhausted with a high fever and head ache, but no other symptoms. Truly the medicine I was given made me twice as sick as the malaria. After hearing many horror stories, I was so blessed to have such a mild case. I was blessed to be able to afford the clinic and pay for the needed tests and meds. I was blessed to work somewhere that could afford to have me work from home for a few days. In the end I was only really “down” for two days and was able to remain in the swing of things here. (Which included a team arriving that week!)|
|My computer completely crashed|
|While I was home sick, my computer also got a virus. Everything slowed to a standstill and most everything would not quite work. I took it to a guy for repair and he tried to fix it, but ultimately said that the virus could not be removed and I just needed to reformat the hard drive and start over. Not only is my computer my most important work tool, but it is also my lifeline to home.||Fortunately I had started backing up everything on my computer a week earlier. Call is a premonition–but somehow I had a feeling that getting stuff backed up was important. This made the reformat as fast as it could be and saved me from any needless worry about losing files or data. In about 48 hours and for about $20, all was fixed and I was back in business! In the end I probably only lost about 1 days worth of email.|
|My bank card went boo…|
|As I was trying to pay for my Dr visit, computer, etc., I tried to get cash out of the local ATM a few times and was rejected. Bank machines are notorious here for not working–so it didn’t seem like a big deal. BUT after a week of not being able to access funds, I decided I should call the bank. After 4 hours and 3 disconnected calls, I learned that they had put a hold on my card for being in Uganda. (Yes, I told them of my time gone before I left, but western banks hate Africa and frequently find reasons for warnings, holds, etc.) AND they also turned off my web access. So I couldn’t see what was happening with my account, nor transfer funds as I had planned. In the end, I had about $200 in fines from the bank!||I wasn’t able to get money for a week but I had other resources available that kept me afloat. After the final phone call, everything was promptly fixed and I was given access to my web account again. During that week my aunt and some friends had given my mom a $200 gift to put in my bank account. I hadn’t mentioned my troubles, but God had moved them to give. This ended up covering that $200 and saving me from having to rebalance my month’s expenses!|
|My car is a daily blessing and I am so thankful to have my own means of transport. AOET had some van troubles and I have been available as a “Back up” driver when needed. Well, the responsibility grew when both our extra van and driver were down AND we had teams in town. So I spent a lot of the last month driving team members or staff to all kinds of different locations. I am not the most confident 4-wheel driver, so often my nerves were really tested to see if we could make it through the muddy disasters that are sometimes called roads. One “puddle” was literally the width of my car, about 2 feet deep and right before an incline. Scary stuff.Then about 2 weeks ago, I started to notice that shifting my gears was getting hard–and it got worse. And worse. And then I could only shift when the car was turned off. So I drove home and parked her.||Somehow the holy spirit keeps guiding my way, and I haven’t been horribly stuck yet! Even though it has been raining A TON.My mechanic, Tony, is also great. He came to my house to take a look and quickly told me the “little problem” and said he could fix it in 2 days. Sure enough in 2 days, it was fixed and only cost me about $25. It drove great for 2 days and then its stopped shifting–while I was driving the team back to Bugembe! I casaully pulled off the road, turned off the car and then restarted in 2nd gear. No one in the car even noticed what happened! Tony quickly got it fixed again and didn’t charge me anything. To have a decent mechanic is a gift here, but one that is quick and has integrity is unheard of! I am so blessed to have my own transport, to have a great car and a great mechanic. But even more, God has been so faithful to answer every little prayer that I have uttered about getting from point A to point Z.|
Even my water and power started going out–which hadn’t happened much in months–and I was reminded of what it was like to sit in real darkness! Normally one of the above would send me into pity party mode, but seeing what Ugandans deal with daily, I mostly felt blessed at all of the resources and support that I had available to me. In fact, I got to the point where I was laughing at the things “going wrong” and just wondering what could possibly be next!
And then the answer came–I started to see flashes of light and small floaters in my left eye. Most of you know that a few years back I had quite a trial with a detached retina in my right eye that had me laid literally flat on my face for quite a while. And here were the symptoms and I was in Africa. I was finally at my breaking point.
Yet, even here, God’s grace was deep. Jaja had a problem with her eyes the previous month and Nancy had found the closest specialist in Kenya. He had operated on her at a missionary hospital and I had even spoken to him on the phone about Jaja’s case. After 2 or 3 days of denying my problem, the floaters continued and I knew I had to do something. I got the Dr’s phone number and gave him a call. He answered right away and explained that he was actually a retina specialist and would be happy to take a look–and he could operate on my eye if need be. (There are only about 3 people for hundreds of miles that could say that.) And Jaja happened to have an appointment for a check up the following week. So I asked Jaja if I could go with her and that Sunday we began a very long journey to the middle-of-nowhere Kenya. (That is a blog post by itself!!)
On Monday, we got up early and were the first in line at the eye clinic. Before 9am, my eyes had been dialated and I was with the Dr. He took a look and said that the retina was not detaching! It was doing something weird and he was glad that I came, but he believed that it would take care of itself and gave me some self-exams to do at home that would help me know if it was becoming a detachment or not. I was basically fine. Because it was a missionary hospital, I think we paid about $10 to see one of the best specialists throughout Africa. Pretty awesome.
On the long way home, I thanked God for once again caring for me. And Jaja bought me a bag of popcorn to celebrate my 39th birthday. (Yes, amidst all of this, I was in the process of hitting the big 3-9.) I arrived home safely, so happy to be back in Jinja. I turned on my computer and had hundreds of messages from friends and family for my day. Donna even posted a video of the ladies in Nuevo Renacer wishing me a happy birthday. It was lovely. Then I fell fast asleep.
Amidst all of these challenges, friends and family were continually praying and supporting me. I know that I survived the last few weeks in-tact because of their prayers and God’s goodness. Trials do come, but I really believe that God is bigger than anything that comes our way.
Psalm 37: 3-7
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
And while I am hoping for a bit of a reprieve for at least a few weeks, we will just see were God leads and guides. And trust that wherever it is, he will be there with me.