As I sit down to write this I admit that my mind and heart have repeatedly turned to my daughter. Emily is doing an internship in Zambia, Africa for her Master’s program. She is involved in a research program in the area of maternal-fetal transmission of HIV. It’s amazing and important work but the past two weeks have been particularly difficult. As she puts it, “everything that can go wrong, has”.
Emily and a colleague were in a very small village in northeast Zambia (near the Congo border) doing research with the district doctor. Unfortunately, the doctor’s brother suddenly passed away and as a result the project was put on hold. A few days after that, Emily’s colleague and research partner, Elle (a pseudonym), began to feel ill. She was well enough to travel so they moved from the village to the town to get better medical care for her and to tackle some research analysis.
Over the course of the week Elle’s condition became quite serious, even life threatening. Elle was admitted into the town hospital, which has “nothing” by our standards. After a night in hospital with Emily by her side, one nurse and the doctor still away, she was released. They got on a bus for Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, to seek better medical treatment.
Four hours into the 12 hour bus ride, Elle had a seizure during a scheduled rest stop and was taken to yet another hospital. Emily described it as being “better than the last one. This one actually has a doctor and some nurses”.
Elle’s only support was Emily. Thirty-six hours later, Elle was diagnosed as having had a mild stroke brought on by a pre-existing condition. When Elle was stable enough, she and Emily were transported by ambulance to Lusaka.
Emily is not a nurse but she has cared for Elle is ways that have been humbling. She has cared for her physically, emotionally and financially, with very little support from the organization she is working with. Many have said it is “above and beyond for just colleagues”.
And that is where I pause.
Emily is caring for her colleague who is helpless, all alone, and frightened. I can only pray that should the situation be in reverse, God forbid, that someone would do the same for Emily.
Here’s the thing. Although it has been the right thing to do it has not been easy. Emily has sacrificed her time, her clothing (an interesting story), her money (Elle can not access any of her funds and she has no travel insurance), her physical well being (she hasn’t slept in days), her emotional energy (Elle has no family to speak of), and all for a virtual stranger.
It has been hard.
It has been a huge and unexpected responsibility.
To make matters worse, there are those in her midst that think she is crazy for caring for Elle. “Why would you do that? She’s nothing to you.” That, unfortunately is not an uncommon attitude in the world we live in.
This week we conclude our four week series called Bless this Home where we have looked at the Beatitudes and how they apply to our family.
This week we are going to tackle a tough one, where Jesus said blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
As I reflect on this beatitude, in light of Emily’s story, I can’t help but want to say to her, “Hang in there, you are doing all the right things”. I want her to remember that “blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
Join me this week as we gather to worship our merciful God, gather around the table, sing songs of praise and hear from the Word of God!