Caring and Being Cared For–July 2011 Update

When I broke my right wrist on April 19th, I didn’t know what would happen to my ability to live my life here. For those of you who are unaware of this event, I was out making home visits on a rainy afternoon and slipped and fell on wet, smooth concrete. My feet flew out from under me and I broke my fall with my right hand. I knew before I got up that my wrist was broken.

Thanks to my co-workers, I went to Cure Hospital (www.cure.org) where there is an American orthopedic surgeon. The mission of Cure Hospital is to provide orthopedic and plastic surgery for needy children with club feet and cleft palates. A private practice for adult patients helps to fund the charity work. So it was a win-win situation both ways. I was in a cast for 6 weeks, and have now been out for five weeks, going to physical therapy three times a weeks and trying to get my hand and arm back to normal.

So I have been dependent on many people for many things, something that my independent nature rebels against! I initially needed help with tying my shoes, doing laundry, opening jars and cans, chopping vegetables, taking me places and many other things. Gradually, I’ve become more independent, but I’m still not back to “normal.”

The daily household chores were things that I expected to need help with. But what I didn’t expect was a different type of caring, which I have received in great measure from the beneficiaries for whom I have been caring. While I was in the cast, there was the daily question “what happened?” as I would see different beneficiaries each day. And once I told them, their response was inevitably “Eneng, eneng”, which in Amharic means, “let it be as if it happened to me.” And while saying this, they would beat their chest with their fist. These ladies have been so gracious, caring and concerned. Even my beggar friends between home and work have expressed concern and caring. One is a man who has very chronic and extreme psychiatric problems, but he was almost “normal” a couple weeks ago when he stopped me to ask how my arm was doing. I try to stay on his good side so he won’t throw rocks at me!

This whole experience has caused me to do some thinking about my work. It has been very refreshing to see some mutuality in caring coming across, rather than the one-sided way (me to them). I’ve been reminded of how the apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, reminds the Corinthians that because God has been a source of comfort to them in their afflictions, that they can be a source of comfort to others in their afflictions and troubles. It’s a way of “paying it forward”. It will be fun to find some other ways to encourage our beneficiaries to do this for one another.

I’m into my 5th week of Physical Therapy. This treatment has been more painful than breaking my wrist was. There are times that the stretching and bending my wrist and fingers by my therapist brings me to tears. Even though I’m a “PT veteran”, I realized that this is the first time I’ve had PT on a joint that had been completely immobilized prior to starting rehab. I should be done sometime in July, though there will be continued work on my part to get my hand fully functional and “as good as new.”

There was one really dark weekend after the first week of PT, when I felt discouraged and vulnerable. So I hibernated in my apartment, relaxed, read, prayed, slept, listened to my favorite NPR programs and ate some good chocolate! I was reminded of the last few verses in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines;

The produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food;

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God the Lord is my strength.”

Prayer and Praise Items:

  • Thanks for a good doctor and physical therapist.
  • Thanks for the many people who helped me & continue to do so.
  • Thanks for caring beneficiaries and staff of the HIV/AIDS Project.
  • Pray for beneficiaries who have graduated (able to work and receiving less support) from the project or may be soon. This is an anxiety producing time for some of them.
  • Pray for a restful, refreshing week at the beach in Kenya, July 9- 16, with others from MTW East and Southern Africa.
  • Thanks for so many faithful financial supporters–without you, I couldn’t be here.

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