For all those that know me well, they will attest to the fact that I am a big fat scaredy cat! My three younger brothers took full advantage of this when I was young. They loved to hide behind the huge tree that stood on the path to our house at night. Then they would jump out from behind it and scream. I still shudder and want to wring their necks thinking about it.
I can’t watch a movie or show that has any element of fear or terror in it. Even the music can freak me out.
When we first moved here I was worried about a lot of things (of course, big on the list was war, rape, and pillaging :). One of the first nights, in the dead of the night, I awoke to a huge BOOM! I woke up completely and was scared to death. I said, “Mike, did you hear that?!”. He sleepily answered, “yes”. In my mind, it was one of two things, a bomb or an isolated thunder clap. So, I ask with trepidation, “was that thunder?”. He answered in an ominous voice, “NO”, and goes back to sleep (even snores). I am wide awake convinced that I just heard the first of what would be many bombs landing on us as we sleep. Of course, it was only thunder (and Mike didn’t remember a thing) and it wasn’t a bomb (and I very thankfully have not heard any since then either!).
Well, last night, I was full of fear. The hardest thing (aside from the constant loneliness and isolation I struggle with) for me living here, is the medical care (or extreme lack thereof). I am literally "it". I am a pediatric nurse practitioner, and I do not trust anyone here when it comes to medical care and advice. I have sought out help in the past and been given such bogus opinions that I consider it not even an option any longer. But, when you are “it”, and your kid is sick, stress and fear are close beside you.
All our girls have had colds and coughs this week. Run of the mill stuff. But then, Isla, our 2 ½ year old got worse last night. She had been fever free for a day and a half, and then all of a sudden last night she spiked a fever again and looked awful. Now, when I am “it”, I have to decide, “do I treat her for malaria tonight or wait and get her tested tomorrow?”. The reality is that even if I got her tested the next day, and it was negative, I would still treat her, because the test is often false negative. So, I curled next to her on the bed and prayed. Even in her fever induced sleep delirium she curled her body next to mine and put her hand on my face. She trusted me in a deep down way. I did treat her for malaria. Yet, as I lay beside her in our bed, in the dark quiet night, tears slipped down my cheeks. I was afraid. Afraid that malaria would take my baby, that I was missing something. I felt so alone and afraid. I lay there in the dark, full of fear, wondering, “what am I doing here?” “what are we doing living in congo” “why are we here” ?? and on and on. Finally giving into the anxiety and fear, I could no longer hold back and it all rushed in, in heaving heart ache. So much death here, so much suffering, pain and fear. Where is God?
Once, when I worked as a pediatric nurse at a large hospital, I was witness to a special baby boy unexpectedly dying one late afternoon. I chose to be the one to wash his body and sit in his room with his body, waiting for his mother to come as I had come to know her over the times he had been hospitalized the last year (she hadn’t been there when he died as he wasn’t that sick). She rarely left his bedside, this was one of those rare moments. I remember when she walked in, broken and sobbing. We held each other, weeping, standing beside the bed, next to his body wrapped in blankets. I remember looking out the window at that moment and a storm raged. Black clouds, thunder, lightening, and lashing rain. I couldn’t help but think that God was angry too. That He hurt and was weeping with this mother. That He held her in His arms far more tightly than I ever could.
Last night, He held me too. And I think that is the meaning of Emmanuel I want to remember. God with us. That He is with us, Jesus came, suffered and died. I may not have the answers to all my questions and fears. But He is with us and has never left us.
update: This post was written two days ago as blogger was down and I couldn't post. Isla is doing a bit better, she also has an ear infection and nasty diarrhea. But no fever anymore!