Mission Work: Sick and Tired (Not really, but sorta…)Posted: June 11, 2010
When we left Lubbock, Bridget started to not feel so good, and as we traveled through Dallas and DC it got worse. By the time we woke up in the DC hotel, ready to head back to the airport, she was in a lot of pain and we had to scramble to get her some stuff at a pharmacy before we left.
That was worrisome. It got me thinking about what it would mean to be sick during the time we’re here. It isn’t as simple as running down to the nearest pharmacy or clinic. I’m sure long-term missionaries are reading this and laughing at my trepidation, but hey, this is new to me.
Anyway, we get to Zambia (Bridget’s fine, by the way) and *I* start to feel sick. Not immediately, but gradually, you know. By about day 4 I was in a really bad way. This picture is me and b at the beginning of the day. We’re in a village in the Kafue District of Central Province, Zambia. He looks pretty healthy, doesn’t he? Wait for it…
The reason we were in Kafue is because we were doing agricultural mission work. As part of Mapepe’s outreach program, they go to neighboring villages and conduct agricultural workshops for the locals. (More on that in another post, probably). So there we are in a field gathering grass and hauling water to make raised beds (if you know what that means you’re awesome). Started the day with a slight bit of congestion. This was me after 2 hours…
The corn stalks piled up behind me are the base of the fertilizing compound that the villagers were being taught to make.
As an indication of how sick I was feeling by this point… the sack that I’m leaning against there is filled with manure.
So by this time, I’m recognizing that I’m actually sick. Not just feeling bad, or whatever. So panic is starting to set in (don’t be fooled by my calm exterior…) – do I have malaria? (I’ve been bitten by several mosquitos, and I’ve since found out that malaria has an incubation period of 7-14 days, so there’s no way that I could have had it on day 4, or whenever this was. But I didn’t know it at the time.) Or do I have something else…? Possibly something worse? Am I going to have to go to the hospital here? Or get flown to another hospital somewhere else? How am I going to pay for that?
Am I going to die…?
Looking back now, all those thoughts were a bit ridiculous… but I’m just telling you what I thought at the time. I’m sure that somewhere a missionary is saying Amen.
Later on in the day it got even worse. By this time (just after lunch) I had pretty much resigned myself to whatever sickness this was, and it was going to be a while before I felt any better.
At this point I wanted nothing more in the whole world than to crawl into bed.
I since determined that I didn’t have malaria – as I mentioned earlier there was no way it would have hit me that fast. It was probably just a combination of change in climate and exhaustion (did I mention that it took us over 2 days of actual travel time to get here, and we hit the ground running?) Once I got back to my bed and slept for 20 hours straight, I was fine. Have been ever since.
So as I went through that, I’m learning that often times things are nowhere near as bad as they seem at first, and if you just say a prayer and get some sleep, they often look a lot better in the morning.
However, I’m also learning that the average church-goer who has never been to a foreign mission field has no idea of some of the anxieties that missionaries face on a daily basis. The simple things of life that we take for granted – access to health care, food and water – those things have to be considered with far more care in some places in the world. That’s not to say that they are inaccessible, but the convenience that we associate with being able to meet those needs is not in evidence in much of the world. I have a far greater respect for those who willingly forego those conveniences in order to work on a foreign field. And a much greater appreciation of the need to convenient the difference to people who have never gone, and as a result don’t have an appreciation for what living in a foreign field really means.