Walking the Red Dirt Road
This is my walk home from the hospital each morning and afternoon. Kibuye is a small community and this red dirt is everywhere (and on every piece of our boys’ clothing). I have gone many days without even getting into a car. We have Burundian friends who bring us vegetables and fruit from the nearest big city, Gitega. We live in a small neighborhood with other American missionaries and are a stone’s throw from the African doctors and students with whom we also serve. We live, work, play, and pray within the confines of this community.
One of the benefits of walking to work is that I see and am seen by others walking this dirt. I often wonder about the stories they would tell if I had the willingness and ability to hear them. There are cultural and physical boundaries between us and yet this road and the journey we are taking begins to move us toward each other.
Supporting and Being Supported
I did happen to know some of the story told by the photo above. When I realized that this older man had been my patient in the Emergency Department, I pulled out my camera and tried to capture the moment. The story could honestly be a depressing one- the father experienced what was likely a stroke a few days ago which affected his balance, his speech, and the use of one of his arms. We have seen at least one or two patients with strokes every week since I’ve been at Kibuye Hospital. The only treatment is to try to prevent a second stroke and limit the damage being done by the current stroke. He spent a night in the Emergency Department, ate some free morning porridge, was given a prescription for a medication, and was sent home.
The photo reveals what is going to likely be this man’s new reality. He leans into his adult son who is supporting him and carrying his few belongings. I don’t know how far they were going to be walking- some of our patients walk several hours to see us. And what would be waiting for them at home? Without the ability to work in the fields, he is going to be leaning more and more on his family and community to support him.
This image is burned into my mind. I pray for him. I also pray for myself and for the Body of Christ in this place. Are we available to support the fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters who walk this road with us?
Lord, your strong arm has been my support. The road may be difficult but I trust you to uphold me. Help me to realize my dependency on you.