Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sweet Rice and a Sleepless Night

Last night we had a small party at my house. Emily and I had been planning for a long time to make sweet rice for my family because it's kind of similar to bouillie, and we thought it would be fun. We finally decided to do it last night because Emily is leaving in a few days. We got all the stuff together, and we invited lots of people. It ended up being Sarah, Jason, Stefan, some of the kids from Jason's family, my whole family, Emily, me, and two random visitors who are staying at my house right now.

I never realized how much work it takes to make rice here. Before Emily came over, I started sifting the rice and picking out all the bad pieces and the little rocks. It took a long, long time, and thankfully, Jason and Emily came and helped wash the rice after it had been sorted. Then we put it on the charcoal fire to boil.

While the rice was cooking, a bunch of the guys played Uno, and Sarah, Emily, and I played with puzzles with the kids. It was really fun just to play and talk with all the kids. Emily kept talking to my kids in Nangjere (which is funny because they don't really speak a lot of Nangjere) and saying, "Do you want problems? Come here, fight me." Her family has taught her how to say some really funny things...

Then Emily and I seasoned the rice, and dished it out. There was a lot of rice. We served up one huge bowl to the six guys, one bowl to Sarah and the little kids, and then Emily, Berthe, Ruth, Pidi (13 year old from Jason's family), and I shared a bowl. Every once in a while, Emily an I would start talking in English, and Berthe would say, "Talk in French. We don't understand English, and we want to know what you're saying." So we would translate into French, which turned out to be funny because once we had been plotting against Berthe in English...

After rice, most of the visitors left, but Sarah and the kids from Jason's family stayed because we had invited them to spend the night. The kids continued working on the puzzles, while Sarah and I talked to Pierre. First I asked him how he became Adventist, which was a fun story to listen to. Then Sarah asked him to tell how he had met Hawaa, and how he decided that she was the one he wanted to marry. This proved to be a much less interesting story than it might sound because Pierre would just laugh and tell us little things like, "Well, we grew up together," and, "She just interested me." It was still fun nonetheless, and just being together socializing was great.

Finally, we all decided that it was far too late (9 pm) and we all needed to go to bed. Bruno and the two visitors slept outside Bruno's hut on a mat, Pierre went into his hut, and then Sarah, all the kids, and I put out a mat under our hangar. It was more than a little crazy. There were nine of us all on one big mat. Sarah and Dorcas shared a blanket on one end, Anne, Esther, and Romerick (10 year old from Jason's family) shared a blanket all squeezed in the middle, and finally, Ruth, Pidi, Berthe, and I with a blanket over our feet on the other end.

It was really fun to lay out on the mat with all of them and look at the stars. At first there was a lot of giggling and squirming, but everyone finally settled down and drifted off to sleep. Unfortunately, I didn't really sleep much. I was on the very end sharing a pillow with Berthe, and she kept on rolling over and pushing me off the edge of the mat into the dirt. I was kind of uncomfortable and woke up every hour or so because my neck was stiff or my arm was numb again. Finally, at 4 am, I woke up cold and realized that if I was going to get any good sleep at all I would need to go back to my hut. So I did. Of course, at 4 am, this decision was a little late because there were only 2 more hours left for me to sleep.

In any case, it was an awesome night, and I hope that there are many more nights under the stars on mats with my family. And I hope that they pass a little less crowded and more comfortably.


It seems ridiculous to still be homesick after 6 months of being here, and maybe even more now than I was when I first came. But I am.

This morning I was cleaning up in my hut, and I found some letters and pictures that my Mom had sent me a while back. So of course, I started looking through them. I came to a picture of my brother, Stephen, sitting on the couch with our sister-in-law, and I don't know why but it triggered something in me, and I just wanted to go home. It made me just want to be able to sit on the couch at home with my family so close that I could touch them.

After cleaning my hut, I took some time out to talk to God. As I was telling him how I felt, how much I just want to be at home, face to face with my family, I had another of those deep impressions that this is how my God feels too. It just hit me, that God's heart aches like that to be face to face with us, for us to be so close He could reach out and touch us.

Yet, as homesick as I am for home, I think being here has also made me more homesick for heaven than I ever have been before. And I think that in a way, God is homesick too.

Philippians 3:20

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Odd Night

This whole month I've been scheduled on night shifts with almost the same people-- Enock, Hortance, and the third person changes from night to night. Last night I was working the night shift, and Hortance came up to me and asked, "Kristin, where are you going to sleep tonight." I was a little confused, but I told her, that I would sleep where I always sleep-- on the floor in the first partitioned area in Urgence.

"Ok, we'll sleep together tonight; after the midnight care, we'll put down the blanket and sleep some," she informed me.

Now, there's something that I should explain about Chadian culture; in their eyes, it's not good to be alone. Period. It's considered one of the most awful things if you eat alone, and heaven forbid that anyone should have to sleep alone either.

Midnight came, I did the meds and vital signs, and then Hortance and I went to put down the blanket and pillow that I had brought. As we walked to the partitioned area that I usually sleep in, I noticed that Felix, one of our janitors, was sleeping on the table/bed with IV fluids running.

"Hortance, we can't sleep here. Felix is here," I protested.

"No, it's nothing. We'll sleep here."

So, we did. We laid down on the floor and shared a blanket and pillow while Felix slept next to us on top of the table/bed. As I laid there, I felt like I was in a strange dream, and it didn't help things that Felix had some odd, battery-operated flashlight that was blinking different colors through the night. Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep, especially because it was super hot inside. So when I woke up to check on the patients, I decided to go sleep outside on the cement benches in front of Urgence.

At one point, a patient's family member came outside and woke me up to ask me a question. I woke up so dazed; it was pitch black (there were no stars, no moon), my glasses were off, so I was blind anyway, and I couldn't figure out where I was or what direction I should go to get back in to the hospital. I asked him to repeat his question as I put on my glasses and looked at the time. 3 AM. He repeated his question, but I still didn't understand, so I thought it just better to put on my shoes and find the door. I stood up and nearly fell over. Right, Quinine, still dizzy. I zig-zagged through the hallway, despite my efforts to walk a straight line, and when I got to the patient's bed, I asked what the problem was again. I'm sure I was doing much to boost the confidence of the locals in the hospital staff's competency.

I fixed the problem and went back outside to sleep until the morning medications. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful, and I was glad to see the light of day again. But what an odd night.

Setting up Shop

Ansley had a brilliant idea a little while back. She thought it would be fun to gather a bunch of random stuff, take it to the market, and sell it all for practically nothing. It would be a true African experience, setting up shop like the African women do.

Today was the day. We all put on our African dresses and filled grass baskets and a market bag with our goodies. Things ranged from little toys for kids to toothbrushes and clothes.

We began our walk to the market with Jolie, Emily's African mother. I'm sure it was a sight: three white girls in African dresses with bags and baskets on their heads. Yes, we carried our things to sell on our heads, and did a surprisingly good job of it too. We met so many people on the way asking us in Nangjere where we were going and what we were going to do. Laughter erupted from all present, including the Nassara, when we would tell them back in Nangjere, "We're going to the market. We're going to sell things."

It was such a fun trip to the market, and we took some good pictures. Jolie just laughed and laughed at us as we were going along, trying desperately to balance the bags and baskets on our heads. Once we got to the market, we set the things down next door to Jolie's little fabric shop. By this time, we had drawn quite a crowd, and I'm not sure how it happened, but as soon as Ansley sat down on the ground with her basket of things, the crowd engulfed her as people started grabbing things out of the basket to look at and ask how much it cost. I'm serious, Ansley practically disappeared in the swarm of people. It didn't take long for us to realize that maybe setting up shop was not such a good idea.

We were losing track of who had grabbed what, and the people were just smothering us. So we decided to pack up. We tried talking to them and asking them to back away and come one at a time, but it just wasn't working. We took our stuff and left, rather disappointed that we wouldn't be able to really get the full African experience of selling at the market. But once we got back to the hospital we just set up all of our things on our back porch and sold to a few of the hospital employees and people who live nearby. It was still kind of fun, still very African-- "bargaining" prices and people asking for a gift after they had bought something (that's customary; if you buy from someone, you ask them for a "cadeaux" or gift because you've just done good business with them, and usually they'll throw in something small). All in all, it was a success, but I still wish that we could have done it at the market.

Just a funny story

So, it finally happened. I broke the wall.

I've climbed the wall to our house so many times now that I've lost count. It's actually become somewhat of a tradition. But one night this week, I went to climb over, and one of the top bricks didn't hold when I tried to pull myself up. Luckily, I missed hitting my foot with the falling brick. I felt a little awful about it, but my family wasn't too worried about it the next day when I told them what happened. In fact, they just laughed at me.

Then I asked them how to get in the back way (why it didn't occur to me to ask this ages ago I don't know); there's a place in the back of our yard where random animals, mostly pigs and chickens, run through at will. So the girls took me around the outside wall and showed me the back way in, which is a little bit of a tight squeeze and comes out into the bathroom or shower. Unfortunately, there's a very, very low-branched mango tree guarding the back way. As I ducked under it, almost on all fours crawling on the ground, I felt something scrape my back. Ow. It would be my clumsy luck that there would be a broken branch jutting out.

After showing me the back way, Berthe started talking to me and said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. A long time ago Pierre said that since you're usually the last one in, we'll leave the door open and you can just lock it behind you." Again, why this solution didn't come up a couple of months ago, I'm not sure. Whatever... TIA.

So thus ends my criminal days of breaking into our house instead of entering through the gate.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lai Revisited

What a day. I worked the night shift Saturday night, and then left a little bit early from work to go to Lai. Emily, Ansley, Caroline, and I all decided to go to Lai to visit another missionary friend of ours, Arlo, who's working with some Evangelical missionaries. We decided to go to their church and then spend some time with Arlo and the family he lives with.

It was a pretty uneventful clando drive to Lai, but once we got to the river, things started to get interesting. There are little dugout canoes that ferry people across the river for a small price, but since it's the dry season, the water has gone down drastically. So, we had decided beforehand that we were going to walk across. Perhaps a little bit crazy, but you only live once, right?

We watched one man coming across from the other side, and were hopeful at first, until we realized that he was pretty tall, and the water was probably up to his chest in some places. We decided to go for it anyway, and all the men up on the half-constructed bridge started protesting. "What are you doing? Don't you want a boat? You can't walk across!" We smiled, laughed, and assured him that we were going to walk across. When they realized that we were not changing our minds, they told us, "Go further up, it's not as deep."

We thanked them and took their advice. Ansley and I began wading across the river with bags on top of our heads to keep the contents from getting wet. Not too long after, I was up to my chin in water, standing on my tip-toes, and coming real close to being swept away in the current. We turned around and decided to go even further upstream. We struck out again, with much laughter and a good amount of confidence that we would get across this river walking. At one point, some of the canoe drivers started rowing toward us to come to our rescue, but we kindly refused his help.

Finally, we found a good route that seemed promising. It was then that Caroline lost her flip-flop. It started floating ever-so-swiftly downstream. So I ran (as well as one can run in water) to Caroline and took her bag while her and Emily ran after the flip-flop. It was soon recovered, and we continued on our way. As we got closer to the shore, a bunch of people who were washing their clothes started laughing at us (I guess it's not everyday they get entertainment with crazy Nassara), and trying to guide us away from deep holes. It was funny because I would be going along in a nice shallow part, and all of a sudden with my next step, I would sink waist deep into the water.

We did make it across, all four of us with all of our shoes and other belongings. And with one adventure behind us, we set out to find Arlo and his church a little ways up the road.

Church was definitely an experience. Ansley had been there once before, so she warned us, "Ok, when we go in, the girls sit on one side and the boys are on the other." As our eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight, we realized that the women's section was absolutely full. Oh dear. What to do. We then saw a man at the very front of the church motioning for us to come up there. Great. Just what we wanted, to be at the front of the church in plain view of all the members.

The way the church was set up was like this: Two sections of benches facing the pulpit (women on the left, men on the right), and then toward the front there was a middle section facing the pulpit (where the choir/band sat) and two small rows of benches on either side facing the choir/band. We were ushered onto the right side facing the band, and sat down amongst several guys, and Arlo sat with us. So much for segregation.

I had trouble staying awake for most of the sermon since I was tired from working the night shift and I wasn't feeling good (yes, sick again, though not with malaria). But what I did see/hear was really cool. The whole service was in Nangjere, so I didn't really understand it. But the music was great! It was so fun to listen to the band with their various instruments. I can't explain the instruments, so I'll have to take pictures sometime and bring them home. But anyway, we sang in Nangjere (Lorraine, an American Evangelical missionary was sitting next to me with a Nangjere hymnal), and the women danced. It's apparently completely normal for women to stand up in the middle of any song and break out in a dance.

They had a time where they had all the visitors stand up and they introduced us. Then they had the sermon, which I did not follow. After that, there was more music and it was time to give offering. The way they do offering is very different. While the music is going, the men get up, row by row, dance/walk their way to the front of the church and drop their offering in the box. It's like a long continuous circle, because the men come up on the left hand side, walk by the front, drop their offering, and then go back to their seats on the right hand side. Then, when all the men have gone through, the women dance their way to the front and go the opposite way to drop their offering in a different box on the other side of the front of the church. Maybe that was confusing. I wish I could draw a little map. Oh well.

After the offering, they took care of some other church business, and then they asked us four girls to stand again. Slightly confused, we rose to our feet. The pastor at the front of the church then began to talk about us in Nangjere for the next five minutes. When he had finished, he explained in French what he had said.

He thanked us for coming to visit their church, and more than that for coming to their country to aid them as missionaries. He said that we were such a good example for their young people, leaving our families to come far away to help other people.

After prayer, we were dismissed, and all the men went out a side door at the front of the church, and the women exited at the back of the church. We went through a long line of people shaking everyone's hands and greeting them with variations of "Lapia" (the Nangjere greeting word).

I thought we were done, but then the pastor called us over to some benches under a mango tree and asked us to have some tea with them. While we waited, Ansley and Emily joined a large crowd of women who were dancing round in a circle under the mango tree. Then we all gathered together, talked, drank red tea, and had some little cakes they had made. It was so much fun talking to the church pastor and elders; they were really sweet people.

When we finished, we went to Arlo's house and sat down to a huge meal that his family had prepared in honor of us coming. We had boulle with some chicken meat sauces (which I did not try) and a bean leaf sauce that was really good. There were also baguettes and coca colas for us. Once we were absolutely stuffed with good food, they brought out a huge salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and ranch dressing, which we ate with our fingers. That was a first, and I'm not sure I would ever want to eat salad with my fingers again; it was quite messy.

As soon as we finished, Caroline and I left because she had to be back for work and I wasn't feeling good. We decided to take a canoe back across the river, and then found a clando driver. The drive back wasn't too bad. At one point, poor Caroline said, "Oh, no! I dropped my glasses!" So we talked to the driver, got him to turn around, and we found her glasses on the road a little way back. Other than that, it was an uneventful trip back to Bere.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Life in Passing

Man, with the blogs and emails that I've been writing recently, I'm afraid that people might think that I'm just miserable, which is not the case. But something just happened, and I really felt the need to get away and to tell someone. I just told Emily, but I think if I write it down I'll feel a little better, and maybe I can move on with the rest of the night shift.

It's Sabbath, and I'm working the night shift in pediatrics. Jason had just given me report and left, and I was sitting down at the desk to write a patient in the register (we keep track in a book of who comes in, what their illness is, and whether they get better or not). All of a sudden, I hear wailing, loud, unchecked wailing. Immediately, I knew that a baby had died. I ran around the corner from the desk into the ward, and I saw a crowd of people gathering around a bed and weeping.

Sure enough, there was an 18 month old baby lying breathless in its mother's arms. I felt to make sure that there was no pulse and no respirations, and as I raised my eyes, I saw the mother's face-- eyes red, tears just streaming down her face-- and something in me just broke. I cried silently as I took out the baby's IV while the mother held her baby's eyes closed. She was a baby I had admitted in the emergency room yesterday, and when I saw her, I knew that they had waited too long, that she probably wouldn't make it. She was so malnourished, and I could see in her eyes that she was just tired of fighting.

As I left the ward, the family carried the baby out, and I listened as the wailing got more distant. I sat at the desk and cried a little longer, not sure why it bothered me so much. Two of the nurses I'm working with tonight had come in to hear what all the wailing was about, and they had watched me take the IV out. Once I was finished they left and went outside. I saw them not five minutes later, sitting outside on a bench talking and laughing with some other people, and I'm not sure why, but it just made me feel so upset.

I hate that when someone dies, everyone here just goes on about whatever they were doing before as if nothing had ever happened. Maybe it's just because they're so used to death. I don't know, but it just upsets me. It feels like a life should be worth more notice than that. It seems like that baby deserved more than just a passing glance and a moment of silence. And at the same time, I know that it's not good to dwell in the past, and no amount of grieving or hours of silence will bring that baby back. In the end, it's probably better that she died; she was tired of fighting, and now she can rest. But I just can't shake the feeling that a life should be worth more notice than that.

Post Note: Once again, I can't find the verse I want. I know that the Bible says that we should not mourn like those who have no hope. And like I said, it's probably better that the baby died for her own sake; but I know that her mother is hurting, and that is why I was so upset that life just moved on with no notice of her pain.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners... to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just Tired

Do you ever feel like the world's falling apart? Maybe not necessarily just your world, but the world. That's sort of how I feel at the moment.

A while back I got news that one of my nursing classmates was in a pretty bad skiing accident. She was in the ICU on a ventilator for a while, and I know that she was getting better last I heard, but that was a while ago.

Toward the beginning of my time here in Africa, I was told about someone I had known who was diagnosed with cancer that had spread all throughout her body. She was in her twenties, fairly recently married, and was a missionary in Korea with her husband. She died a few months after being diagnosed.

Last night I got to talk to my mother on the phone, and she told me that one of my cousin's wife just died unexpectedly last Thursday. She was in her thirties and had two kids, and one of them found her in the morning and couldn't wake her up.

On top of that, the baby that I named died last night also. She had many health problems from the time she was born, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but it was sad nonetheless.

Two of my friends just recently lost their grandfather unexpectedly.

The list goes on.

I know that people say this all the time, but I really don't think that this world can last much longer. I recently read through Isaiah for my devotions, and the other day I read one of the most comforting verses. I can't remember exactly what it says and my Bible is in my hut at the moment, but I think it was in Isaiah 57, maybe verses 1-3... Anyway, it basically says that when the righteous die, it's one way that God is sparing them from evil. After reading that, I couldn't help but think, "Maybe God is starting to take people out of this world to spare them from what's about to come." Perhaps that combined with the fact that Satan knows his days are numbered and they're drawing to a close, so he's attacking for all he's worth.

Either way, I can't help but think that time is short, and praise God for that. I'm tired of seeing people in pain. I'm tired of watching people hurt and not being able to do anything. I know God is tired of it too, and I'm sure He is even more anxious for all the pain and hurt to be finished than I am.

Post Note: I apologize if this was a depressing post. I just had to write to get things off my mind. And despite the way that things sound in this post, I promise you I am far from depressed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A La Fleuve

It's starting to get really hot again. One morning, at 8:30, the thermostat outside the middle house read 80 degrees, and that was in the shade. You can imagine in the middle of the afternoon out in the sun how hot it is. And this is only the start...

One thing that's nice about it warming up though is that we have a lot more motivation to go to the river. Swimming is so much more fun when it's actually hot outside. So two Sabbaths ago, James and Sarah decided that we were going to make a big trip to the river with a bunch of the neighbor kids. Sarah, Jason, and Stefan took the horses and a few kids with them, and the rest of us piled into the van.

It was insane. We counted how many people were in the van-- 10 in the front (5 adults and 5 kids) and 17 in the back. I sat in the back with one of our chaplain's kids on my lap, and man was it hot. And bumpy. Thankfully it was a fairly short trip.

I had so much fun at the river; it was probably the best trip I've had there. At first, Ansley and I were playing with a bunch of the younger kids who can't swim and were sort of afraid of the water. Then kids started asking me to ferry them across the river, which was kind of funny because the river is now so low that most of them could probably walk across themselves. There's just one spot that's maybe a little too deep for some of the younger ones.

James had brought a frisbee, and at first people were just throwing it around, but then James decided that he wanted to play ultimate frisbee. It was so much fun. If you've ever played football in knee-deep snow, ultimate frisbee in knee-deep to waist-deep water is very similar. It's amazing how difficult it is to run in water, but diving for the frisbee is much easier in water than on ground. My legs were so very sore from running in water.

Anyway, the whole day was a blast, and afterward Ted, Ansley, and I walked home while the van took everyone else back. We had a nice long walk and some good conversations. Yet another great Sabbath in Chad.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Epic Fail

So. Last Monday I tested positive for malaria. I tried Nim tea to cure it on Tuesday. It didn't work. After talking to Gary and Wendy, I upped the dose and took more concentrated Nim tea on Thursday. I felt pretty good on Friday, but by Friday night I was kind of miserable.

All weekend long I went back and forth between feeling sort of bad and feeling fine, so I finally decided to get tested again today. Before, I had 0.05% malaria. Today it was 0.10%. From this I have learned several things:

1. Nim tea does not work to treat malaria for me, but I have a theory about what it does do. Maybe I'll explain later.

2. Don't experiment with treatments for malaria. Just take Quinine and get it over with.

3. Malaria is one sneaky little parasite. It's kind of like playing peek-a-boo with a pathogen.

Friday, February 6, 2009

He Gave His Blood

February 5, 2009

I walked around the corner to the benches outside the lab. My eyes were met by a thin, but strong Arab woman with a large, gold nose ring sitting on the bench, squeezing a stress ball as the blood flowed from her arm into a blood bag. I smiled at her, and she smiled back at me, not at all shyly. But when I sat down next to her, her smile was replaced by a look of slight shock.

She motioned to the needle in her arm and then pointed to me as if to say, "Are you here to give blood too?"

I smiled, pointed to my arm and then to the blood bag while nodding my head. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when she, in great excitement, started chattering away in Arabic to her relative on the bench next to her. She then asked Anatole, the lab guy, if I was going to be giving blood for her sister, and he assured her that I was indeed going to donate for her sister.

Her smile got even bigger as she looked at me with grateful eyes. I just laughed and smiled back.

I watched her wince as Anatole pulled the needle out of her arm, and I motioned and said in French, "That hurts!" (they use a 14 gauge, small garden hose, needle connected by tubing to a blood bag, and it burns worse to take it out than to put it in). She clicked her tongue and nodded in agreement.

Then it was my turn. Anatole started prepping my arm and searching for a vein. I turned my head because I can't stand to watch the needle go in. The Arab woman nodded her head and motioned for me to look away. Once, I turned my head back because Anatole was asking me a question about which vein he should stick, and the Arab woman quickly shook her head and "told" me to turn my head away, that I shouldn't look. I laughed, but complied and turned my head so that I couldn't see. She put her hand up as a shield just to make sure I wasn't looking.

As I squeezed the stress ball to pump my blood, the rest of the family came over, and she excitedly explained to them what was happening. I just laughed again; I was amazed at their excitement. They starting talking amongst themselves, and then Anatole translated and told me that they were thanking me. It's amazing the conversations you can have without ever speaking any words.

Anatole pulled the needle out when it was finished, and the woman next to me cupped my face in her hand and said, "Merci, merci," probably the only French that she knew.

I sat there for a little while so that I wouldn't pass out, and I just listened and watched the family. At one point, the Arab woman's relative next to her reached over and touched a little bit of my hair. I smiled and turned my head so that they could feel my hair. People here are so intrigued by Nassara hair, it's so different.

There's something so amazing about giving blood in Africa where you can see and know the patient that it's going to help. I have never in my life enjoyed giving blood so much as I do here.

Unfortunately, the woman I was giving blood to is very sick. She had already had two bags of blood before her sister's and mine. She was pregnant with appendicitis, and Dr. Bond had done an appendectomy on her-- very dangerous while pregnant. After surgery she just wasn't recovering, she was in a lot of pain and just looked so tired.

James decided to give her some more blood and take her back into surgery to see if he could figure out what was wrong, which was the reason I was giving blood.

That night, Ansley came into the middle house and said, "Guys, please pray for the little Arab woman. She's just not doing good." James couldn't find what was wrong, and ended up taking her baby out to try to give her a fighting chance at life. We stopped to pray in a group right then and Ansley went back to work.

As she left, I began praying silently to God; I was upset at the thought that this woman might die. "God please, let her live. I gave my blood for her, please don't let it be for nothing."

I stopped, astounded by the depth of what I had just prayed. How must Jesus feel? I can imagine Jesus leading, praying the same prayer for me, "Father, please, I gave my blood for her. Please don't let her go." And then the thought went further.

That's how I feel about each of my children.

Each person that I come into contact with, is someone that Jesus gave His blood for, a gift that He doesn't want to have been in vain. Whoa. Shouldn't my prayers for their souls be just as earnest as my prayers for this Arab woman's life? Shouldn't I be doing everything I can to make sure that my Jesus didn't give His blood for nothing?

All these thoughts have opened my eyes to the value of the people that I am working with here. And the value of every person in God's sight. I thought about how upset, how sad I would be if I had given my blood to this Arab woman, and it made no difference. Then I realized that all I had was a needle in my arm for a few minutes to very cleanly 'donate' my blood. Jesus spilled His blood. It wasn't a pretty, clean process. Jesus gave His blood to the point of death. How much more precious a gift to be wasted, and how much more deeply He would feel the loss if it made no difference in the life of someone He dearly loves.

God, help me to treat people's lives with the value you place on them, let me see with your eyes.