Paula had another interesting and emotionally exhausting morning in Chris Nissen on Friday. She spent quite a while with Lorraine talking about her illness, general health and the various options that she now finds herself faced with , particularly with regard to her little daughter. She is very anxious and tearful about the future for Evidine, her daughter. Lorraine is not afraid to die, she said, but she is so afraid of what will happen to Evidine. This is such a common story and yet, thank God, she does at least have wider family who will care for her. Lorraine's dilemma is when to send her to live with them. She obviously desperately wants to be with her daughter for as long as possible and yet, only wants the best for her. She is concerned because Evidine has obviously guessed that something is up with mummy and is becoming extremely clingy. All of these worries are so natural for any mother and it was a complete privilege (if not a little bit bizarre) to be taken in to her confidence in this way and to try and help her come to the best decision.
I then went on to visit another lady who is recovering from AIDS related TB. She was extremely weak and brow beaten but was so pleased that someone stopped by to listen and chat. Language was so difficult with this one - I really do need to get learning some Afrikaans. I am excited that she wants me to come back next Friday so that she can tell me the story of how she became sick. This is a real privilege, so I will do this.
Finally, as my time was running out before collecting Joel, I visited 2 other ladies whom I had been told were sick. I wasn't quite prepared for just how sick they both were. Amazingly, they were sat outside in the sun trying to keep warm (as everyone does these days!) and yet they were both very unwell. After just a few minutes of listening to a translation of what seemed to be wrong with one of them and hearing the rasping cough of the other, I told Dina that I was going to take them straight to hospital if they were willing. This turned out to be quite a saga - with me single handedly lifting a wheelchair into the boot and then having to carry one of the women out of the car at the other end! The hospital casualty is depressing. There are signs up everywhere saying that the minimum wait is 4 hours and yet these women are really sick! After staying to help them check in I left them with my phone number to ring to take them home (otherwise they will walk!!). So far, 2 days later, I have heard nothing!
So all in all I have had a very typical week of contrasts here in Somerset West. One minute I'm at home entertaining Joel, then I'm working in an office training someone in administration, then I'm caring for my own sick child, washing, shopping, ironing, going to meet with the mums and their children, leading a cell group, going in to Chris Nissen and listening to some desperate life circumstances and eating out in a very nice restaurant as a treat on Saturday night. I can remember sitting out on a milk crate talking with Lorraine on Friday thinking that I would never have guessed I would be doing this at nearly 37 years old with a degree in Biblical Studies and 11 years work experience. Yet I also wouldn't be anywhere else at the moment!!