Today we went to Kabanana for the first time. We went to pick up a woman named Fanny who I will be working very closely with (and I LOVE her). She and I seem to have a similar sense of humor. We then went to the home of four children who live with their mother who is HIV+. The youngest boy, Wisdom, found out just before I came that he is HIV+. The oldest girl is Memory. She had a baby out of wedlock a few weeks ago. She is not healing and keeps having some complications and health issues (She is 20). They thought she might also have HIV but she was negative when tested. We brought them (there are two more boys, Morgan and Nathan) letters. It was so encouraging to get to see them open their letters. These are children living in the most dire circumstances being given a peice of paper and a photo from people miles and worlds away pledging to love them and care about them. One of the letters was from Debra McDearmon (She sponsors Morgan). She mentioned Greg and Hannah in the letter and I was able to tell him, "Greg is married to my sister, he is my brother in law", which conected us even more. Another letter (The one for Nathan) was from Gabe Kelley (my good friend from RBCL) After he read it, he quietly closed it up and looked at us and said. "I like him. No. .... I love him" It stuck me as so sincere and so appreciative that gabe took maybe 15 miinutes of time to send that letter and Nathan will NEVER forget opening it. I know for a fact he will read it until it disinigrates into nothing. As we sitting there the boys were speaking Bemba and Megan asked what they were saying. Fanny told us they were saying "These people are ours"... such a powerful statement. It is impossible to describe the conditions in which these people are living. I need each of you to come here, at least once because there are no words.
We took Memory (for a post-baby check up since she is having so many complications) andWisdom (too get his second HIV test... they do an initial one then a blood test to determine the kind of ARVs (HIV meds) you need.) It is so draining to sit by a little boy and pray with all your might the whole way to the clinic that his blood test comes back negative, that maybe the first test was a fluke. You feel your whole heart just yearning. In the waiting room I sat with him and asked him about school... his favorite subjects are Math and Science and English. I told him I needed him to help me with math because it was my worst subject. He considerately gave me a laugh but I looked at his bloodshot yellowish eyes and realized he had so much more on his mind... so much more than a tiny little boy should have, than math.
We also visited little Memory (a different Memory). She is an 8 year old girl who just found out she is HIV+. Her mother does not want her on any medication because it makes you hungry, and I suspect she can't afford the food, it also would mean she had to be on these meds for life. When we got there, the mother (who is seldom home, I am told) was not there and the aunt was in the shower. The aunt was described to us as an alcoholic who is pregnant and does not know the father (When asked she apparently said "I don't know...you know how these things can be"). Memory and her brother (?) Christian were sitting on the staircase and appeared to be crying but neither of them would say anything was wrong. You just want to hold them and tell them it's going to be OK but how can you say that?
I am very excited to be into this work 100%. It is hard at first when you are just getting to know the work and the people and the situation. I have alwasy been reserved at first but then once I am at the point where I know what I am doing and am comfortable there is no stopping me. I pray I get to that point soon... I don't like feeling hindered by my own uncertainness...