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BACK TO THE BUSH: Malaria strikes again!

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Bush Camp, Home of some rather extraordinary memories!
Bush Camp, Home of some rather extraordinary memories!
   It was but a few days left for my stay at the bush camp when the two staff’s children came down with malaria. The plan was that my son would take me back to base camp and there I would say goodbye to my daughter in law and grandson, as well as my co-teacher friend. At this point, I had no idea how this malaria thing would affect my exit plans.
   It was sort of up in the air as to who would go with us (my son and I) to the capital city. As it turned out one of the trainee families (2 adults and 3 children) needed a ride to the capital. However, if they went with us, then my daughter in law, grandson, and teacher friend would not be able to go with us for lack of room in the vehicle. This was hard for me for it meant I would have to say goodbye to them at base camp. Yet, I had begun to accept things that did not turn out according to my plans; maybe not as gracefully as I should of but accepting them nevertheless. There are some things you just don’t have control over and submitting to the will of God is your only option; that is if you want to stay sane!
My new forever friends!
My new forever friends!
   So I said goodbye to my bush camp friends, and bush camp with no idea if or when I would ever see them again. Though my time with these friends and this place  was brief, the impact they had on me would be with me for the rest of my life! My heart was and always will be grateful for these new friends and my bush camp experience.
My tukal; my dwelling place along with my 2 friends. Yes, I will miss it! As hard as that is to believe!
My tukal; my dwelling place along with my 2 friends. Yes, I will miss it! As hard as that is to believe!

 

    When we got back to base camp, my son began feeling feverish and went to bed with 104 degree temperature. Since malaria was strongly suspected, he began taking the necessary meds to treat it.
   You know how God often works out things that don’t seem so good to our benefit!?  Well, because I was there, I was able to take care of my son, giving him his meds through the night. That allowed my daughter in law to focus her attention on her son and get a much needed night’s rest. Yet, it was this mother’s joy to be available to care for my son in his sickness. You mom’s who read this will totally get why!
   I prayed for my precious family and friend, that God would spare them from coming down with malaria. There were two more weeks of bush camp left and they still had responsibilities to fulfill.
   Now, my concern was that my son would have enough time to improve in health before it came time to take me to the capital city and on to the airport. I intensified my prayers for my son and that I would be spared this malady!

BACK TO THE BUSH: Last day!

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It is March 14, 2013 and I have spent my last days at bush camp. I had a lot of mixed emotions about leaving.

I searched my photos but no pics of the shower after the doors were installed by Simon and Cameron. That was such a vast improvement.

Outdoor shower!

   I confess mostly I was glad to be returning to a less rustic way of living. Carrying a 40 lb Jerry can of water down hill to an outdoor shower stall so I could pour cold water into a large bucket to wash off with, to stepping into an indoor shower stall and turning on the warm water; well, let’s just say it was kinda hard to teach this 64 year old grandmother a new way of doing things.

Filling up the Jerry cans!

Filling up the Jerry cans!

   

(By the way, the name Jerry cans originated with the Germans during WW II. They came to be called Jerrycans which was a snide name for the German soldiers.)

 

Outhouse!

And concerning that infamous latrine? When I walked away from that outhouse, I never looked back. And that’s all I am going to say on the subject!

Three parts of my heart!

              Three parts of my heart!

Of course, there were many more things I was going to miss. First and foremost was my son, grandson, and daughter in law. I was going to miss the opportunities to make memories (I’m big on that) with them. Soon, I would no longer be able to reach out and touch them physically. (Any reaching out and touching them after this would have to be accomplished electronically!)

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I was going to miss getting to know the people they ministered with and ministered to. I would not get to experience watching those relationships blossom and become more dear. I would not get to watch the effect that coming to know Christ would have on new believers there. I would not get to be present when God gloriously answered prayers that I knew were heavy on the hearts of my son and his team.  

550769_10151831157820389_1002524896_nBut as I prepared to leave bush camp remembering the high points and even the emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles I endured and being somewhat disappointed in myself because I did not rise above them more successfully, I did not know then that it would be after I got back home before the lessons contained within the whole of my missionary experience would begin to take root. 

So, off to base camp we ventured where I would pack up and begin my long journey home. But that wasn’t to be the final event of my stay there. For malaria was yet to strike again!

BACK TO THE BUSH: Malaria

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3-11-13

On a Monday

   Thought I would be spending the night at camp, unlike my son and daughter in law who are now going back and forth from base camp to bush camp daily. (about a 45 minute bumpy drive)  But as it turn out  it was decided I would be returning to base camp as well. My teacher friend wasn’t feeling well and had remained at base camp.

   Returning to base camp was a change of plans I welcomed. This would give me more opportunities to hang out with the other staff members, plus my son and daughter in law. And, of course, at base camp I got to do more of the things a grandmother loves to do–helping out in the care taking of my grandson, plus having more time to spend with him so that he could hear my voice and get use to me. Hoping those baby memories of this time will linger and I won’t be such a stranger when next we meet. 

   Only one more night left at bush camp. I remember sitting on the side of the top of the mountain where the bush camp sat on my last day there. It had recently rained and the air was cool and moist without the dry dust and smokey smell (from the burnings) it usually carried. It was quiet and I could hear villagers in the distance singing. It was a peaceful moment and from my vantage point, it was hard to imagine this being a burdened land with violence and depravation. I wondered what sounds I would be hearing if the animals that once grazed this formidable land were still roaming about. (If they did, I might not be sitting here, actually)

   One of the team member’s daughter (6 years) has come down with malaria. She nor her mother would be returning to bush camp until she was well. Especially, since her younger brother came down with malaria a short while thereafter.

   Malaria seems to be a way of life around here. That is due I’ve discovered to a combination of factors. The type of mosquito which exists in this area is itself very efficient at spreading this disease, while local weather conditions (hot and rainy) allow transmission to occur year round.

   But using mosquito nets, which we were faithful to use at camp, and having access to medicines to treat malaria minimized the breakouts. If malaria is diagnosed and treated promptly those who come down with it can experience a complete recovery. Such was the case with my little friends!  

   One more night at camp and I held my breath that I nor my son or daughter in law or my baby grandson would be affected by this disease. 

BACK TO THE BUSH: A day in the life of this unlikely missionary!

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Our humble classroom!

Our humble classroom!

2-16-13

     My teacher partner and I were told that by 2 pm we would be leaving bush camp for home base.  We welcomed this news for it had proven to be a tiring day.  The wind was blustery; blowing dirt and grit with vigor.  We had attached blankets to some of the openings, trying to cut down on the wind. Rocks had to be laid on the student’s papers to keep them from blowing away. I am sure you can understand why my teaching partner and I were counting down the minutes till 2 pm.

     But 2 pm came and went along with our enthusiasm! Finally, around 4:45 pm we were given the all clear and were headed for home (remember, in this setting that is base camp).  One of the first things I did was to accept the gentlemanly efforts of my son to heat some water over the gas cooker. This would then be poured into the a bucket of cool water that would then be poured into a bucket that hung on a pulley in the shower which acted as a, you guessed it, a shower! Listen, when the grit is embedded into your clothes, your hair, and under your fingernails and your feet are so dirty you can’t tell if you are native or not, you would be willing to make whatever effort is necessary to undo the realities of bush living.   After I hoisted the bucket up above my head, by means of the pulley,tied it off and pulled on the chain so the water could come out of the shower attachment connected to the bucket, I felt as close to godliness as I had for several days. (cleanliness = godliness:)

 

 

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The shower stall itself was what I was accustomed to. The means by which the water flowed was rustic but it got the job done and I was grateful!

 

 

     My missionary gals fixed a supper that would put any home cooking restaurant to shame. And the homemade guacamole dip! Well, until that moment, I was under the impression that I didn’t care for such. NOT ANY MORE!

     After an ultra fine supper and sweet fellowship, I laid my clean body on the cozy comfortable bed, with the  bathroom comfortably nearby and drifted off to a pleasant sleep that lasted all night long.  Ah h h h!

Back to the Bush: A few days off!

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My favorite thing to do back at base camp. Hanging out with my boys!

My favorite thing to do back at base camp. Hanging out with my boys!

     Right before we (meaning camp staff) were to return to base camp, we were visited by a couple of young ladies from our mission organization. They were on assignment to interview and video the training of the church planters at bush camp and the work of my son’s team in general.

     These two young women were a delight to get to know and I admired their independent spirit and their passion for God.  Here they were traveling all over the place doing interviews, taking pictures and videos of the work of missions in some of the most exotic places on earth. National Geographic photographers have nothing over these two gals.  

     As we piled into the my son’s truck to return to base camp, our spirits were running high.  I confess, I was anticipating the luxury that was about to be mine–eating delicious food my daughter in law and others would be preparing for us, (rice and beans are good, really good, but a steady diet of it gets old you know), enjoying the convenience of an in-house bathroom,  sleeping on a soft and comfy bed and getting more opportunities to make memories with my baby grandson!  

     But something unique began happening to me on the drive home. I do believe it had something to do with the praise my son gave to all of us in the truck for our efforts in helping out with the training at bush camp.  

     He started with me by saying that I got the most improved award! An award which I gladly accepted because, my dear readers, I was down pretty low; up was the only place I could go at this point.  My teacher friend and I received a lot of praise for our efforts and I confess it was very motivational and reassuring. 

     The laughter and enthusiasm of my two new friends were contagious. As we rolled into town, I realized that for the first time since I had begun my teaching at base camp, I felt a subtle but noticeable change in my spirit. Up until that moment, the word ‘crushed’ would have been the adjective I would have chosen (you’ll realize why in a bit). 

  That’s a wonderful feeling!  And it’s odd too, because I was 30+ years older than most everyone in that vehicle.  I began to forget how old I was and found myself joining right in with their silliness and good humor.  Ah h h, just what I needed. 

God has some good words to describe what I was feeling:

 A joyful heart is good medicine,but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 ESV

    

 

BACK TO THE BUSH – Base Camp Moments

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It’s 2-18-13,

 

and I just got word that we were not returning to bush camp that day as planned.  A decision was made to wait until the next day.  In my journal I made the following comment:

(Thank Goodness!)

     Unfortunately, I hadn’t made as much progress as I would like to claim in moving out of the selfish perspective that shadowed my every thought.  (Not proud of this, but I’m trying to be honest here and it is what it is! or should I say ‘was‘).

 

Remember that verse I mentioned previously, Philippines 4:6-7?

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

     Well, folks, I was struggling with that one.  It just wasn’t happening for me.  I was like a duck out of water.  I am a country gal who thrives on lush green grass, green trees of various types minus the thorns,  (the only tree with thorns around my home is locust, but it redeems itself with luscious smelling blossoms in the spring!) and four defined seasons.  I had left all of that and this new place I had come to, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired.

     After lunch that day, God ordained that I would have a talk with my son’s boss who was visiting us and would be joining us at bush camp the following day.  He was closer to my own age (it’s not much fun being the only old person around and having no one to relate to on that level) and I think that made it easier for me to talk with him.  We talked about the seriousness of the problem back in the USA of falling short of our goals for the various mission offerings our missionaries and programs depend upon. Fewer missionaries are being sent to the mission fields in large part due to a lack of funds.  Now I know that doesn’t thwart God’s plans but the sad part of that is what it does to the morale of our missionaries. Not to mention, how it deprives those of us who are to be giving to these mission offerings of the joy we could have in spending our money as God would desire and not so much on fulfilling our own desires. (Coming down off my soapbox now!)

     May I preface the above paragraph with a comment (rather humorous now but at the time I wasn’t laughing-much) that exposes more of my self-centeredness than I care to admit.  Nevertheless, here goes.

     I feel God got me to that particular mission field on false pretenses. (I may not have mentioned this before, but God does have a sense of humor at times)  For the sake of holding my newborn grandson, spending time with him, his dad, and his mom, I was willing to do whatever I had to do to accomplish that.  (Did you know that my husband, returned after 3 weeks without me? This meant I would be traveling home and changing planes 3 times from across that vast ocean all by myself.  And I highly dislike traveling alone

But God had a plan for me and it was just beginning to unfold.

This was a welcomed respite!

If I only knew then what I know now!

 

Back to the Bush! Bush camp vs Base Camp!

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While visiting my favorite Christian camp last week, a young friend of mine asked me if I would be writing anymore about my experience in the African bush. Of course, I never meant to quit writing those posts but ideas came to write other posts and somehow my bush stories got pushed to the back burner, so to speak. Therefore, I will attempt to pick up where I left off and set aside Wednesdays to write these posts.

 

269343_10151831127560389_1908601040_n Not to worry, there were no lions where the camp was. Just thought this would set the stage for my post!


Not to worry, there were no lions where the camp was. Just thought this would set the stage for my post!

(To read the last post I wrote about my bush experience and be brought up to date, check November 2013 archives!)

It’s 2-6-13 and the staff (which, hallelujah, included me) were headed back to base camp!

 

Home Sweet Home!

Base Camp – Home Sweet Home!

 

vs.

Quick action on the part of our trainees kept my tukal from catching fire.

My home away from home!

Ahh, to be in a house (not a tukal) with a bathroom (not an outhouse) just a few short steps from my comfortable bed, eating something other than beans and rice, drinking cokes instead of filtered water! Since I had just come in from the bush I saw these as luxuries for the first time in my life!

By returning to home base, I was able to sort through the jumbled thoughts racing around in my head. God used this reprieve to clear and stabilize my thinking. Though I still had a ways to go, I grew less negative and more positive in my thinking.

A phone call to a dear friend back in the USA gave me the chance to talk with someone who would be willing to listen to me and empathize with me about the harsh realities this 64 year old woman had endured. She didn’t gloss over the hard stuff and offered words that energized and encouraged me. Sharing with her some of the thoughts with which God had impressed upon me over the previous days, helped me gain clarity and purpose.

A media team from the mission organization we belonged to, had arrived at home base. Two young women gifted with the ability to write and photograph well blended right in with our missionary band. I admired these women a lot. Here they were bravely traveling all over the world by themselves and all for the sake of the gospel. I had, up until that meeting, always thought to be a photographer/writer for the National Geographic would be an exciting and intriguing job. After meeting these extraordinary women, I have changed my mind. Not about being a photographer/writer but to do this kind of work for the sake of the gospel?

Wrapping this post up with a verse with which I struggled in taking to heart during my time in the bush. The fiery darts were bombarding me and with the harshness of my living conditions, not to mention the challenges I faced physically, the truths of this verse continued to elude me. Nevertheless, I kept my focus on this verse, for I knew my recovery would be found within its truths–especially the part about praying with thanksgiving. I can’t say that I was able to fully thank God for the challenges and struggles of bush camp (while I was there; at least not to the extent I would like to be able to claim). But now that I am home and have had time to ponder those days, I can sincerely state that I thank God for every difficult moment. If there is to be a next time, my first time in the bush will have prepared me well.

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipines 4:6-7 (HCSB)

 

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