Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

That was the theme verse from my devotional yesterday (Tues, Oct 6). A song that is written off that verse immediately started going through my head (Holy is the Lord), which is amazing because half the time I can't remember a thing! I should have know right then that God put that verse before me for a reason.

The morning started early with Bethuel and I going up to Lomngeletjane to see the progress and talk with John. It had been a couple of weeks since the three of us could meet and we had a lot of unfinished business. The sun was out again and it was a perfect morning; not too hot and not too cold. We had a good meeting with John settling some cost and labor issues that I had with the work he had been doing. Actually, he had been hiring the work out and not supervising it which he finally admitted although we already knew that. His actions have cost me money and project delays and I have not been happy with him. But we resolved those issues. He is now finishing the work and accepted a little lower payment for his work to compensate for the extra cost I incurred because of his several "mistakes." Bethuel and I were very happy with the quality of the work he has done recently and we came up with a good plan to get this house finished. The head teacher came over to say "hi" and Bethuel told her she needs to go to the electricity board to get in the que for having the electricity connected to the house! That's exciting, and yet overwhelming because now we are coming to the point that it is all the things required to actually finish the house and make it livable that have to be done such as water, kitchen sink, appliances, bathtubs, counters, geyser (hot water heater), etc. Ish! I haven't planned on those things! The Lord will provide.

Bethuel and I were also very impressed at the number of blocks the parents made last week. The parents decided they would make the blocks to finish the second teachers house (the other part of the duplex) as a way of cutting costs. This is a HUGE change in their attitude and we were so pleased that they wanted to help. The new head teacher is truly a Godsend. A new plan is emerging in my head and heart to get the slab poured for the next four classrooms so that while I am in the States the parents could be making the blocks for the walls.

On our way back to St. Paul's, I had to stop and pick up baby Sipho, his mom and Thembie, the Rural Health Motivator for Lomngeletjane. Sipho had thrush already and could not suck very well. He is only a week and a half old. I don't understand how that could happen so quickly. Well, actually I do. There's no clean water, inadequate nutrition for the mom, his living conditions, etc. I was concerned about his health from the beginning, but I didn't think there would be problems so soon. The mom's cough is still terrible so I asked Thembie to please make sure that she got looked at as well as the baby while they were at the hospital/clinic.

As we were driving back I was so amazed at how beautiful the jacaranda trees are. They are in the peak of their bloom and too beautiful for words. The following is a picture of the tree in the hospital parking lot. It was so in-my-face magnificent that I couldn't help but stop to take a picture to save that beauty for all to see. I started singing again in my heart and head..."For the Joy of the Lord is our strength. We bow down and worship him now how great and wonderful is he....."

Then we went to one of our schools to pay school fees for some of the kids. We had tried to expand our Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu program to this school but discovered that the children the teacher gave us, though they were very vulnerable, they were not sickly or HIV+. We discovered quickly that she was looking for a way to get some kids school fees paid, which is not the prime focus of the program. But some how there was mis-communication and the parents were expecting us to pay school fees for 19 children. As a committee we decided we had no real choice but to pay the school fees this year, but we would clearly state that we would not pay the school fees again next year. Our intention was to verify that no one, other than the Government, had paid anything towards these children's fees. (The government only pays a certain amount of the school fees and the parents/guardians are supposed to pay the balance which rarely happens. When the balance isn't paid, the kids are sent home from school during the third term.) The head teacher showed us a ledger that didn't make any sense, wasn't complete, and wasn't an accurate picture of the money received from the government. We're talking simple bookkeeping here, nothing that should have been unclear. Soon we were arguing about how she was applying the government money. I must confess I was so frustrated and angry at the blatant mismanagement of money. I finally had to sit down, keep my mouth shut but I figured out myself how much we were going to pay to "top off" the children's school fees. The amount was one third less than what she wanted us to pay. I got further frustrated and angry when the head teacher called in another teacher to do simple math (550 - 325) on a calculator and they couldn't even do that right. The skills of some of these teachers scare me to death. So we decided we would settle this with her later in the week so we could leave. The head teacher wanted a ride to catch a bus - going home early as usual. I told her we were going the other way and she said, "no, only down to the end of the driveway." Or atleast that's what I thought we agreed to. And though I was irritated that she couldn't walk the 500 ft. or so, I said ok. We got to the end of the driveway and I stopped, ready to turn to go to our next school and she says "No, Chris, the other way." I asked her what and she said down to the intersection of the larger (dirt) road which was a couple kilometers away. I quietly but angrily turned the car around and drove her to where she wanted to go. I was quiet but everyone knew I was angry. I'm sure how I was driving gave them a very good clue to my emotions. Then the Lord convicted me of my anger as he reminded me of the parable in Matthew of the two brothers: The one said "no" to what the father asked him to do, and the other said "yes" and didn't do it. Yep, I was busted. I should have said "no" instead of angrily doing what I was doing. If I had said no, I probably would have thought of it and changed my mind to yes without being angry. So in a conscious attempt to triumph over my anger I started saying over and over "The joy of the Lord is my strength." As always, it helped.

On our way to the next school, after crossing the second creek, we saw this cute little baby donkey. He was so cute I couldn't resist taking his picture and once again we laughing and marveling at the wonders of God's creations. "The Joy of the Lord is our strength. We bow down and worship him now, how great and wondrous is he?...."

Nope, it's not over yet. We arrived at Lutfotja. The school fees and bookkeeping weren't an issue, but when we discussed the dates for our children to return to the clinic for their monthly ARV's I could tell there were issues being discussed. One of the girls the teacher had brought in to tell us when her next appointment was left in tears. When we left the school Thoko told me that mother of Sebenile, the girl who left the office in tears, had been taking the money for transport to go to the clinic in Mbabane and not going with her to the clinic and that the child was going to the clinic in Manzini by herself. (Manzini is closer so the transportation costs are significantly cheaper plus we had been giving her money for the mother and the girl.) She also told me that the father of Mxolisi now has a girlfriend living with them and that the father is very sick. He is HIV+ and a few months ago he was not on medication. He probably needs to be on ARV's now, but everything now has to go through the girlfriend. Mxolisi had a terrible cough and had sores on his head. As I sat looking at Mxolisi's sweet face I couldn't help but think that he is 10 years old, but as a result of severe malnutrition and disease, he is the size of a 4 or 5 years old. (I just kept singing to myself for the joy of the Lord is my strength.) And then we discussed Mthokozisi and the girls. The father hasn't been to see them once but we were told he is finishing his house which will have 5 rooms. No rooms for the kids though. It was another day when the needs, the issues, the actions of adults were overwhelming. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Finally I arrived back at St. Paul's. Parked my car in the garage and went into the church office to say hello/goodbye to Zitsile, the church secretary who is one of my "adopted" daughters. She was very quiet and had tears in her eyes. Not good. She is usually so talkative and happy. One of the church stewards had yelled very loudly and harshly at her in front of other people. I sat and talked with her a bit. Shared some of my experiences and how I handled the hurt and pain of others and encouraged her to always turn to the Lord in any situation. I also shared how the simple verse from Nehemiah had helped me cope with the day. She left to go home and I walked to my place. I was glad the Lord put that verse in front of me that morning to help me get through the day, but I was glad the day was almost over. I sat down with a book to get my mind off of things (my weakness is good murder mysteries) and went to bed very early. This morning I woke up early at the first sign of light (5 ish), listened to the birds sing and watched the sky get bluer as the sun rose higher. The joy of the Lord is my strength.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, my goodness, you had quite a day. I will reply to your email soon--sorry for the delay. Our prayers are with you as you deal with all of these issues and people in need. remember to breathe!