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Dedicated to Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Miskito Indians of Nicaragua

And Then I Cried...

            Becky and I try to get exercise everyday, but are not very good at it.  Here you might see why.  Today we went on a walk, but did not make it even to the center of town before we were stopped by a man near the clinic to tell us that there was an emergency in his family.  His aunt, who is a heavy-set woman, had been carrying her Saco from the plantation and while stepping over a log had fallen and hit the right side of her abdomen on a log.  MINSA had given her Tylenol for pain, but now she had a fever and was vomiting.  This happened five days ago.  Could we come and see her?


            Becky and I went back to the mission to get my assessment bag and my every ready emergency stuff.  We took the Moto to save time; picked him up on the way back by, then went to see his aunt.  She was moaning in pain.  I did my best to assess, though I am not really familiar with internal injuries or abdominal assessment.  The best I could tell she did not have acute abdomen, but I wanted to be sure.  The MINSA doctor was out and so I was it.  I told her she needed to go to Waspam for further assessment, prayed, then left, thinking about how to get her to Waspam. 

            While at her house, a man came and asked us is we could come see his daughter who was very sick.  I asked about MINSA and he told me that they couldn’t help her today.  They had been taking her to the Sukia but that was not helping.  We drove over and went to see.  Her whole face was swollen, her hair thin and brittle, her skin pale, her arms and legs swollen, pitting edema, and large flaky red blotches on her arms and legs.  Though I have little experience with it, it hit me pretty clearly that she probably had Kwashiorkor, a protein deficiency form of malnutrition, which is one of the most serious.  Her diet for a long time had consisted of rice, bread, and wabul, a Miskitu cassava and/or banana drink.  No beans or meat.  After leaving there, we were racing home to quickly eat then prepare for our class in the afternoon.  We were almost to the Adventist church when two men came running down the hill after us, waving for us to stop.    One was excitedly telling us to come take a picture because a boy was about to die.  I inquired as to what was happening because I thought maybe I could help.  “It is too late for that,” he said, “just come, please!”  Becky and I stopped the moto, grabbed our bags and followed them up the hill to a house where I heard singing.  As we entered a somber sight met our eyes.  One of the Catholic Church leaders was leading out in songs, while a middle aged woman wailed uncontrollably. Other family stood by, crying, singing, somber. On the bed lay the still form of a young boy, wrapped in a white sheet.  His breathing coming irregularly in short gasps.  It was indeed too late.


            I took the pictures they wanted, while Becky hugged the lady who was wailing and they cried together.  We sang with them.  An older woman sat at the head of the boy, an older brother watched as the boy’s life slipped away.  The songs and prayers were interrupted only by the occasional uncontrollable wail of the woman, and the attempts of the family to quiet her. 

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a white shirt had been found and while someone else was helping, they held it up and an old man cut a wide strip out of it with a machete.  This was folded neatly into a wide band about an inch and a half long and tied around the jaw of the boy with the knot at the top of his head.  This is to keep the mouth from falling open.  Death here is so much different than in the states.  It is not glorified or pretty.  There is no embalming or make up to make the person look nice.  My heart ached for this poor family as I stood there with them, praying in my heart, and singing with them.  I could tell that it was affecting Becky even more as she has not been exposed to death even in the US.  I wanted them to know that we were hurting with them. 


And then I cried.  I wept with them.  I cried for them, for the situations that arise here, for the hurt and pain they will experience because of the bonds of superstition, I cried to God, “Why?! Why must it be a child?  Why didn’t they come to us for help?  Why must there be so much suffering here?  Was there anything I could have done?”


I realized too though, that the fact that we came did mean a lot to them, sometimes even more than attempts to make it better.  We stayed with them for a while longer, then the man who had been the main one to bring us there, picked up our bags, signaling time to go.  I walked over to the woman who had been wailing and gave her a hug and the Miskitu kiss.  “Tanki, tanki,” she said through her tears, “Tanki pali.”  (Thank you, thank you.  Thank you so much.) Then we walked back in silence to the moto.  It was 1:30.  We had to cook lunch, and be ready for class at 3. 


            I didn’t know how I could teach class after a morning like that, but prayed to God for strength.  When we got back to the house I gave Becky a hug and she fell apart.  “He was just a kid!” she said through her sobs.  I prayed for strength to help me keep going, and strength to be a comfort to Becky as well.


            When Armando, our translator got to class he quietly told me that it was probably better not to have class today as it is Miskitu tradition to not work or have any events after a death until the person is buried the next day.  We had prayer with those who had come, and post-poned class.  It is Miskitu tradition to stay up all night singing at the bedside of the deceased, then the next morning build a casket, dig the hole, and bury the body.  As we were going to bed up on the hill, we heard the sounds of their chanting and singing in the valley below. "Oh God," I prayed, "help these people who are hurting, and help them to have seen some of your love in us today."


        Once again I am reminded, yes, many amazing experiences are to be had here, but we still live in a cruel and sinful world. 


       Thanks so much for your prayers, support, and emails.  They mean a lot!

In Christ,