I’ve had several visitors this week. Monday, “Sam” showed up with his mother. They are relatives of our night guard who were in town for medical care. The story I’d been told was that they had spent the last month or two in the national hospital but that they didn’t do anything but keep taking his money. They said his cheek had swollen but then the swelling had gone done when a hole opened into his mouth. I figured that this might be a tooth abscess that penetrated the skin on his cheek. I wondered if maybe they were experience some prejudice as foreigners—they are Malian nomads from the north—not always the most popular group since the war in Mali though many of them suffered violence from rebels themselves.
We went to see the doctors at our friends clinic a cooperative run by a local church with Western doctors. I asked them to bring all the paper work from the hospital with them. I hadn’t actually seen Sam’s face until we arrived in the doctor’s office since his head was wrapped with the traditional turban that also covered his face. We quickly realized that this was much more serious than a tooth abscess. The paper work he brought indicated he had been on chemotherapy , and the large gaping wound in his cheek was actually mouth cancer in advanced stages. Sam is only twenty but the doctors were not optimistic about his future. Today he is travelling back to Mali with his mother to see his dad who has been selling his camels to pay for his son’s medical care. I told his mom that I would pray that God would bring him health.
Wednesday night I had another visitor. I first met Kareem in December when he banged on my door one Saturday afternoon demanding a job. He was a hefty looking guy angrily yelling “I need a job. You have to give me a job!” I quietly told him I didn’t have any work for him right now but if he was hungry I could give him some rice. When Jennifer brought a bag of rice he said he didn’t need any food he just needed a job—he needed to know that at the end of the month there would be a salary for him. Despite his intimidating demeanour something inside said this man needs to know that God cares. He told me how he felt despised by people as he went around town, that people treated him like dirt. When I told that wasn’t true, that he was a person of worth created in the image of God, he stopped talking and looked at me not knowing what to say. Finally, he said, “But you have to come see where I live with my mother and little sister to see how hard things are for us.” I told him that I would stop by the following week, thinking it might be better to take another man along with me. I stopped by the following week and later delivered some cookies on Christmas Eve.
This week Kareem called saying he wanted to talk to me. He arrived in a security guard uniform. Apparently he’d found work earlier this month. He talked for an hour or so, talking about his family and his own uncertainties. His real reason for showing up was to thank me for caring for him when he had made it difficult. That my actions had demonstrated God’s love in ways that he hadn’t seen in others around him. He was very confused about religion and wasn’t able to choose between Jesus and Mohammed (that had split his family) but that it meant a lot to be treat with real compassion by a stranger. Please pray for him and his family.
Please pray for Jenn as she has discovered that she has cataracts. Pray that she has wisdom in knowing how to deal with this situation and that God’s hand would be at work through all of these circumstances.