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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pins, needles, and retroactive causality

Ndyezika has been a dear friend of our family for thirteen years now.  We kind of inherited his presence from Betty Herron’s kindness to him, because he was a ten-year-old boy living alone with a mentally handicapped brother when we arrived, fending for himself.  His father was dead and when his mother remarried, the new husband did not accept her previous children.  Over the years he hung out to play, our kids became attached to him, he learned to speak English well from them, served as a translator for my old Bible and Math clubs, did odd jobs, went on some trips with us.  We sponsored him through O Levels at Christ School, where he was much loved by the staff for his humble, honest, sincere heart and his willingness to struggle with studies and repeat years of school in order to pass.  His chaotic primary education and marginal nutrition in those years combined with great anxiety in test taking . . . . mean that academics have not come easily for him.  After O levels we searched for a possible career for him, he so much wanted to go into nursing or medicine but did not have the grades.  Then by God’s grace and Jonah’s wise advice we were able to get him a position in a training school for laboratory technicians.  Again he repeated a year but managed to finish the course.  Last month he took the national board exams to be certified as a lab tech.  Now we are waiting for the results, which should be announced any day.

We love Ndyezika.  And with love comes vulnerability and the possibility of hurt, and I’m on pins and needles waiting for his results.  Maybe more than he is.  He is pretty hopeful, and my motherly heart fears the impact of disappointment if he has not passed.

It is not a question of skill.  On his breaks from school, and now full-time, he’s been working in our lab at the health center.  He has consistently done good work and the certified technician who runs the lab has confidence in his abilities.  Last month in one of those great Kingdom stories of redemption . . .he saved his mother’s life.  His mom has had a chronic cough for nearly a year.  We had treated her several times with antibiotics and I knew she used to use tobacco regularly and thought she had emphysema.  We had asked for sputum samples to be examined for TB but they came back negative.  When Ndyezika got home from school he was concerned about his mom.  (He supports his mother and younger siblings now as she’s a widow again).  So he took her down to the lab and repeated the sputum samples himself.  And he diagnosed TB.  As much as we love him we were not completely sure . . . So we sent her to Bundibugyo Town for a chest xray and sure enough, there was a huge cavitary lesion characteristic of TB.  The TB clinical officer reviewed the sputum smears Ndyezika had done and agreed with his diagnosis.  

So I suppose you could say that his training was worth the life of his mother.  And there have been others:  an orphaned toddler whom we had treated for almost two months for Kwashiorkor (protein deficiency) just was NOT getting better and had constant diarrhea . . Until Ndyezkia found schistosomiasis in his stool sample and we found out that he had been living near an infected lake before his parents died and he was sent to his Grandmother down here.  Now with the proper treatment he was able to improve and go home, a real victory.  I’m proud of Ndyezika already, but I would still like to see him able to get a paid position in the lab and work, and for that he needs to pass the test.  And more than that I would love to see this orphan who has struggled his way through school affirmed and recognized by the stamp of approval this would bring.  The test is over but we’re still praying that he would pass, because God is outside of time so it seems to me the prayers of today can apply to the exams of August.  I should pray that God would be glorified by his success or his failure, but it’s hard to be so nobly dispassionate about the feelings of someone whom we hold dear.

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