I closed the door behind me, feeling slightly giddy with the freedom of getting out when I’m usually housebound. Afternoons are usually consumed with finances, phone calls, dinner prep and catching up on all the little things that have accumulated incomplete throughout the day. On this day, I left them all behind, along with my three children, in the very capable hands of their father. Although the sun was hot and the road dry I put on my gumboots, not knowing what the path beyond would be like. I followed my friend south down a narrowing road toward Alamacar and her home. She had just finished her work for me and I begged her to be my guide. The previous Sunday a mutual friend had attended the women’s bible study and shared that she was, loosely translated, “stressed to death”. She had one month old twins and a handful of other small children to care for. I knew if I waited I might never get the opportunity to visit and encourage her in this most desperate of times.
Just before reaching her home, my friend turned east and headed across the valley that may in the future be dammed full – negotiations still underway. She had her sick two-year old tied on her back. As we went the child began coughing and her mother paused, leaning far over so that the child could spit.
The rains were regular this year, so the valley and surrounding hillsides glistened green. There were young boys bathing in the swollen stream. They laughed embarrassed at being seen naked by a white woman. We found a place to cross where the reeds provided footholds and I was thankful for my boots. The village was just ahead, nestled at the base of some small hills. The opening in the stick fence was low and narrow, too low for my friend to enter with her child on her back, almost too narrow for my hips.
We quickly met our friend and her husband. I was delighted to see him at home sitting by the sleeping twins, swatting away the flies. The mother was hacking away at a pumpkin with a panga. They told me the names of the babies and introduced their other children. We laughed about the sweet elements of having newborns and all the daily, relentless needs. The pile of pumpkin pieces before her grew, she intimated it would be her midnight snack. They told me the story of their early marriage, their humble home situated so close to her family, his failure to pay a dowry, and now this mixed blessing and trial of twins.
The babies awoke hungry and crying. I carried one as she fed the other. Then we switched. Her other children watched me with their giggling eyes as I did the bouncing mother dance to calm the baby. Finally, they were fed and I glanced nervously at the setting sun. I handed the baby back who promptly defecated. The mother’s eyes widened and she said as an aside, “Can you imagine if he had pooped on Mama Moru!?” I reminded her I have three children of my own.
Before leaving we encouraged them in their work as parents and spouses, to persevere, to love and help each other, that this is a season that will come to an end, that they are not alone even in the depths of the night with two screaming hungry twins. Eyai Akuj. God is with them no matter the hour or the place, and He sees.
As I turned toward home by myself speed walking in clomping boots, I breathed in God’s presence. His beauty in creation around me. His reflection in the care and love of parents for their children despite sickness, sleepless nights, poverty, and loneliness. I am unspeakably grateful for His unchanging faithful love declared in the rising and setting of the sun.
Thank you Chloe, for your sweet and heartfelt story of your visit to your friend in need. As I was praying for missionary requests in our bulletin I suddenly remembered I had not read your update sent several days ago. I think God for you, Christopher and all the other members of your mission there and Karanoja and pray for all of you. Our troubles here pale in comparison and there are tears of compassion for your friend and her family. God bless And keep you all safe and we’ll. Betsy