Tough Day, Tougher End

At devotions this morning, Pastor Scott said he thought this might be the toughest day.  The initial adrenaline is depleted.  Monday came after a Sabbath refreshing.  Wednesday will be our last day in the field, and so it’s easy to see the finish line.  Tuesday, he said, would be the day when we might really struggle and be more keenly aware of our need to rely on God’s strength.

I took his words to heart, though I felt at first that he may be proven wrong.  I seemed to breeze through the first of the day.  Things at the medical and dental clinic were humming right along.  Yet again, each team was working well together.  And yet again, they were a model of efficiency and competence, seeing extraordinary numbers of people and accomplishing more good than anyone could ever have hoped for.  Both Pastor Scott and myself added to our resumes with a new position – traffic cop.  We had to prioritize those people who had arrived yesterday but could not be seen, and still keep those who had come today in some semblance of order.  But all in all, even that went well.  When lunch arrived at 2, we were actually ahead of schedule, and even wrapped up a few minutes early.

Laura had expressed an interest in visiting again with Brian, the young man who was burned so badly.  We arrived at the medical center around 6.  If possible, the place was even filthier than yesterday.  The air was rancid with the smell of urine and feces.  I said yesterday that it was more like a garage than a hospital, but that’s really too kind.  Perhaps a barn better captures the feel of it.  And if it were a barn, the stalls needed mucking out.

We went to Brian’s bed to discover that not one thing had changed in the 24 hours since we had been there previously.  Juice that had been provided for him was missing.  The water that had been left was untouched.  His wounds were still untreated.  He was still lying on a filthy rubber mattress that was unfit for a doghouse, much less a hospital.  He was a truly wretched sight.

Thank God for the depth of Laura’s compassion for this man.  Through her persistence, his bed and his body were washed.  He received fresh bed linens, a new blanket and clean clothes.  And what of his care?  Well, it turns out that in Uganda, a patient has to have a “caretaker,” someone to feed him, clothe him, change his bed and clothes, etc.  We consider that part of health care, an obligation upon the hospital to provide for the patient.  In Uganda, that is not the case.  Usually, the caretaker is a relative.  So we made arrangements to run radio advertisements in his home village, seeking a relative.  But for tonight, Laura was his caretaker.  She obtained permission to clean and dress his wounds.  She gave him painkillers and antibiotics.  And she attempted an IV, but Brian was so dehydrated that this proved impossible.  Laura took that very hard, and I understand.  But I hope she will not let our adversary take the one thing she was unable to do and rob her of the satisfaction that she did ten things no one else would do.  Laura may not know why God sent her to Africa, but Brian knows.

I again had the opportunity to pray with other patients.  As I stood by Brian’s bedside, praying for the success of the third and final IV attempt, Peter said that I had been requested to come to the children’s ward.  I went, and was invited to the bedside of a one year old who was malnourished and frail.  His name is Ronald.  He is dying of AIDS.  I assumed the lady at the bedside was his mother, but was told she was his grandmother.  Ronald’s mother had “left him.”  I do not know if that means she abandoned him or died of AIDS herself.  As I prayed for him, he looked at me with large eyes deeply recessed into his skull.  It was not the look of a one-year-old.  It was the haunting look of a weatherbeaten old man.  I will never forget it.

And so, at the end of the day, I confess that I do not understand.

I do not understand the ways of man.  I do not understand the depths of depravity that would allow a mob to attempt burning a 17-year-old boy to death.

I do not understand the ways of Uganda.  How can he lie in a “hospital” unattended?

And I do not understand the ways of God.  Why does He not intervene on behalf of these multitudes who are suffering?  Why would He not grant my plea that the IV would be successful?  Why would a baby spend the entire span of his brief life in the process of dying?  I truly do not understand.  His thoughts are not my thoughts, and His ways are not my ways.  They are beyond my comprehension.

And yet, though I do not understand, I am certain at the core of my being that these things cannot be void of purpose and meaning.  And though I do not understand my Father’s purposes, I am completely certain that they are good.  I know that He will, in a way that only He can do and in a way that only He may understand, bring good out of all this wretchedness.  I do not understand.  But I do trust.

gkr1996 posted at 2011-6-28 Category: Uncategorized