We received some sad news this morning. Our dear friend, John (the man I mentioned in my last blog post) died in his bed in the village early this morning.
Joel and I had visited his home last Monday to take him food to nourish his ailing body. His home was a single room with mud walls, dirt floor, no electricity, a single bed and table. John mustered all the strength he had to stand and greet us, Mum and Dad. He was so happy to see us, thankful for the food. His brother informed us that the local doctors were arranging government transport to take John to the hospital in Lodwar, that the medicines had made him “go crazy” a few nights ago. John’s split, swollen lip on his sunken face verified that.
My heart heavy, we prayed for John, safe passage to Lodwar, and a blessing upon the food we had brought. The transport never came. None of the taxis would take him. The food that we furnished to nourish him never crossed his lips. It was cooked, but no one made sure John ate. In his confused, weakened state, John wasn’t coherent enough to go eat the last four days of his life. His throat parched, it hurt him to drink and no one tenderly urged him to.
I asked if John had a relationship with Jesus, and the reply with a sad smile was that he used to. He had accepted Christ when he was in his 20s, but then he started a taxi business, and the money started coming in. Alcohol also entered in, and it was about that time that he stopped going to church. His business failed, and available work in Loki was minimal. He would pick up manual labor jobs here and there, but most of the time he would join the guys who sit outside our gate talking, playing games, and just passing the day away.
This morning, John’s body was wrapped in white cloth, and the village men dressed in white took him away. They dug a grave for him, and that was the end of his life here on earth. No funeral service, no ceremony, no funeral homes.
In my sadness, I know God is good and just. I don’t know where John is right now, but I hope he’s with Jesus. I hope that the few months he spent with us and our prayers somehow relit his fire and love for Jesus to carry him through those last days.
Jasimbo is another one of our helpers who now also has TB, but in the beginning stages. He’s faithfully taking the medicines, not drinking alcohol (which inhibits the medicines from working), trying to eat well and isolate his utensils so no one else becomes infected. He doesn’t blame John for his illness, but I think he’s learned from John’s lack of attention to his care. We talked about the importance of keeping God in our lives through the good times and the bad, not leaving him behind when finances and life are going well. Jasimbo smiled, and said probably the most insightful thing I’ve ever heard him say, “Change always comes.”
Change always comes. From good to bad, bad to good, through the hills and the valleys of life, the one thing we can always count on is change. The only thing that has ever remained constant is God.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10