Today has been a very sad day. We learnt this morning that our friend and patient in CNP who has recently got on to ARV treatment died. She had been very sick in the past week, but we never thought that this was it. Paula took her to the clinic on Tuesday and they immediately admitted her to the hospital where she stayed until her death. Thankfully, Paula, one of our carers and the family were all able to visit her in the final week and spent some quality time talking and praying with her. Apparently, the night before she died the family all said that she looked 'beautiful'. If you have seen anyone in the final stages of AIDS, this is hard to imagine, but it is a good reminder to us all that when you are prepared for death, Jesus shines through you. I thank God that the family have this special memory of her. This afternoon Paula visited the family to offer some comfort and to grieve with them. This lady leaves behind her elderly mother - a real sweetie!, her elder daughter of 19 with her 3 year old and her younger daughter of 12. Paula had a lovely visit. They are so relieved that the suffering is over and that she is with God but it is particularly hard on the 12 year old. After we had spent some time chatting and praying, I said how much I would miss their mum/daughter because she has become my friend. As soon as I said this, the 12 year old said, "I really miss her too" and burst into tears. This was so good, as it is often quite taboo to cry in this community, but it was also very hard. I just held her and tried to comfort her and remind her that she has her sister and granny who love her. I was also able to tell her that I have also lost my mum. For an instant, I felt like we moved a step closer. Please pray for me as I attend the funeral on Saturday and speak - this is a privilege for me. Please pray that I might be able to glorify God through her life and the fact that she was so open about her status. I have to be honest that a part of me feels that the recent fight to get treatment has been a waste of time, but I know that isn't the case. May God use this experience to help the HOPE team to tell people to get tested and, if necessary, onto treatment as early as they can. As I was leaving the house, the mum asked me if I would be taking back the Bible I gave to her daughter - she was so delighted when I said, of course not!! Please pray for this family. They are so vulnerable and so beautiful at the same time. We now have lots of counselling work to do in the coming weeks and I long for more people like my friend who will be open to God through their illness. I will miss her passion, sense of humour, naughty spirit (who am I now going to 'tell off' for trying to hide a crafty fag!) and love for God hugely!
As we so often find in CNP however, as Paula was visiting the family in crisis, Dean was attending the 1st birthday party of Hayden, Michael and Joyce's foster son. This was a very sweet and jubilant affair with cake and sweets and drinks everywhere. The house was overflowing with children having a whale of a time and Michael and Joyce were very proud. Hayden took it all in his stride and pottered around making sure he got his fair share of cake! Days like this remind us how much we feel at home in CNP. We do feel very much a part of the community - able to laugh and cry with our friends as we mourn or celebrate with them. Thank you Lord!