Thursday, July 30, 2009
Feeding the multitudes
Yesterday was our third quarterly Kwejuna Project food distribution of the year, and though we prepared for a substantial spike in the number of HIV-infected women who would appear, we were still stretched to the limit to serve the 306 who registered. Scott gave a small sermon with five mandazis (local breads) and two real skinny little lake fish from the market as visual aids, and we sensed the same need that Jesus' disciples did for some order in the chaos and miraculous provision from God to pour out His care on so many people. And God did, as He has each time in the past. The Kwejuna Project is a huge team effort, drawing in pastors, elders, lab techs, midwives, patients, peer counselors, community people, and missionaries. And this time, parents! The Elwoods (Nathan's parents) and the Lutjens (Heidi's parents) arrived Weds night, and by Thursday morning they were fully involved in the effort. In the tradition we started years ago with Bethany's dad, we simply asked them to pray in small groups for the women who wanted spiritual encouragement. Several times during the day, as I had to break the tragic news to a mom that her baby's HIV test was positive, I was able to then refer the weeping woman to the sympathetic arms of her peers and these caring prayer warriors who would lay hands on her and pray for God's comfort. In spite of those moments of sadness, the general atmosphere of the day is always that of a celebration. Celebrating continuing life. Celebrating community, that the women find themselves in a large company of people who face the same problems. Celebrating improbable connection across continents as we give calories for survival that have been donated by American friends. And this is a safe place for these women to celebrate with each other the triumph of a baby's negative test (dozens!), the hope of a healthy child to care for them as their own disease progresses in the future, the assurance of continuity in their family in spite of their own impending mortality.