In my last post I intended to write specifically about my reminiscent thoughts during Campmeeting. However, I went off on a very long tangent about our car breakdown on our way back from Diffa in October – so it wasn’t really about camp meeting at all. I will now attempt to remember and record what was going on in my head during Campmeeting weekend…
We left on a Friday morning and completed our journey uneventfully in under 9 hours. (The uneventful part is what got me off track in the last post). We had dinner with the Jorgensen’s and were then off to the first meeting. It was so much fun to just ‘show up’. Our Vie Abondante Pastors had done a great job and all the groundwork was done. People were in from the villages, they were all registered, sleeping arrangements were made, seating was all set up, lights were lit, food was prepared for the hundreds gathered there,and sound and instruments were ready. The only thing we had to do was help put up the banner. And that’s only because we brought it with us. I found myself just looking around grinning at the gathering crowd. Of course I loved seeing all the children in from the villages that were part of kids camp, held in this same place. Most of them had on their camp shirts.
I’ve already written about the events and speakers of Campmeeting. You may remember the theme was ‘Fruit That Remains’. But looking around at all those people – all those children – it really got me thinking. Is my life producing fruit that remains? Because if it’s not, what’s the point? Really.
I may have been feeling somewhat melancholy partly because I was a bit under the weather. That always puts me in a pensive mood. As great as the evening was I felt worse as time went on. I was somewhat suspecting I might have malaria but since I didn’t have the typical symptoms (severe headache, high fever), I kept ignoring that. To be honest, I’d been feeling rather ‘yucky’ for a few weeks. That’s probably why I just kept going – yucky became my new normal. Maybe it’s because Maradi was colder, or maybe it was the long journey, but I definitely felt extra yucky. I knew Dani (missionary colleague) had malaria testers so I went to her place after the meeting. She pricked my finger and sure enough the little tester showed up positive for malaria. In Niger, Malaria is one of those things that is par for the course. It’s not that we expect to get it – as we believe we walk in divine health – but it does show up from time to time. As terrible as it is (one of the leading causes of death here), it’s not all that ominous if treated properly. The reason so many people die of malaria is either because they can’t afford an effective treatment ($6-$10), or their immune systems are non-existent because of malnutrition (which is also a financial issue). Since we are in Niger long term, we have chosen not to take any prophylaxis (preventative) just because of possible long term side effects. So we are always on the ready to treat for Malaria if symptoms arise – even if we can’t be tested.
Well as I said, I didn’t have the typical malaria presentation. I’m kind of weird that way though. I’ve actually tested for malaria 3 times and every time the test is positive. There have been a couple of other times I treated for it without being tested because I actually had the ‘normal’ symptoms and was in bed. The times I’ve tested positive I was just not feeling right and I went on like that for awhile…weeks. What I need to do is test when I’m healthy to make sure I test negative!
Anyway….back to Friday night. Positive test – start treatment. ‘Treatment’ sounds complicated but it’s easier than a course of antibiotics. It’s just 2 pills for 3 days. Went to bed. Felt worse on Saturday morning but was determined not to miss the meetings. After all that is why we made that 9 hour journey! And I really dislike missing out on stuff that everyone else is experiencing. Apparently I looked worse as well – judging by the comments and compassionate (pitiful) looks people were giving me…Made it through the 4 hour meeting and was glad I was there – even if I was thinking about a bed. Went back to our room at the Jorgensen’s where we were staying and slept. I really wanted to go to the evening meeting. Neal highly recommended I stay home. I thought maybe if I just got there, I could sit and enjoy what was going on, even if I couldn’t participate much (in our church – participation is required!). Departure time 15 minutes and I still hadn’t made up my mind. Neal left the room, ready to go. I suddenly made a decision to go. I began getting ready – putting on my camp meeting clothes – and it was during that process that I realized the fever must really be affecting something in my brain if I thought I could go to the service. I was sweaty and out of breath by the time I got dressed and had to sit down. What was I thinking? Neal walks back into the room and sees me sitting there, dressed, and says, “You’re going?” I just said, ‘No, I just felt like getting dressed so I could be there in spirit.’ Then I told him he was right and that as much as I hated it, I’d stay home. The main reason for my decision (other then feeling like I was going to pass out just by the act of getting dressed) was because I was the first speaker for the next morning, and I wasn’t going to miss that! The hardest part was when everyone was leaving and I was left at home – alone. I decided to do what I never do by myself – I watched a movie! It felt funny at first knowing everyone else was in church, but it passed the time and kept my mind off of, well, whatever. Why didn’t I just sleep you ask? The ‘treatment’ affects people differently but for me – there’s some insomnia involved. Nice, I know. Feel cruddy, can’t sleep. Thus, the movie.
The troops returned with reports of a great meeting – even without me there- and off to sleep we went. And I was actually able to sleep. Sunday morning I woke thanking God that I was feeling much better- not 100%, but much better.
My message for that morning was ‘Preparing the soil’. I started out with Psalm 127 – Our children are a heritage from the Lord. A heritage is something precious that is passed down. I even brought a beautiful silver teapot that had been passed down to us from Neal’s Grandparents via his parents. Now Tobi is wondering if he’s going to get it! When we consider our children as precious gifts, we need to care for them accordingly. And part of that care is preparing their soil to be able to receive and grow good seed. A seed is a seed no matter how you look at it. If you plant a seed in good soil, it will grow. But that same seed planted in bad soil won’t produce anything. So we have to make sure the soil (heart) of our children is good! That was the overall ‘gist’ of my message.
Neal and I have been talking about being generation minded for quite a few months now. It’s really been on our hearts. Maybe because we’ve been in Niger for quite awhile. Or maybe it’s because we’re getting older and realize the time to make our life count is getting shorter with every day. Or maybe it’s simply because of the command Jesus gave us when he told us to go and bear fruit – fruit that remains. John 15:16 Well all that talk got me missing my kids. We have 3 of them – but 2 are now in the U.S. Being in Maradi always makes me miss them more because that’s where they grew up. Now that the youngest is nearly 13, I’m wishing we would have had more. Because they are our seed. Our fruit.
Neal and I began reminiscing about our kids because we really were missing them. The fact that I had malaria didn’t help. That always makes me a bit melancholy. I almost felt myself wanting to get panicky because Tobi is growing so fast. Being in Maradi, we talked about our days living here, when the kids were little. Though they are great kids, they were not without challenges. But those challenges could always be met with prayer and God’s Word. And that’s not just a ‘pat answer’… it’s the truth. The older the kids got, the more we realized the power of prayer in their lives. We were thinking about the amount of time they consumed, that they sometimes made us crazy, and sometimes they made us downright furious. Then Neal said – ‘But our kids were fun. Even during those times. I can’t imagine life without them.’ And it’s true. We would be different people today if we didn’t have these treasures that had been gifted to us.
So now we are working on transitioning to a new phase in our life. I don’t want to mourn the loss of childhood but I want to embrace with joy what my kids are becoming. I rejoice in seeing them walk out the plan and purpose for which God created them.
And if anyone is wondering about our kids…
Tobi is 12 and is an amazing young man who loves people and loves God more. He even has his own page on this blog.
Tanika is a wonderful 20 year old sophomore at Oral Roberts University. Her unique personality includes both compassion and a tell-it- like-it- is truthfulness. She draws both children and adults and is studying Special Ed/Early Childhood Development – she was made for this!
Trae is a 21 year old new graduate (this month) of Oral Roberts University with a degree in International Community Development and a minor in Business. He was married this past summer to the amazing and beautiful Christi Dunagan (now Childs) and together they are pursuing God’s plan for their lives. (Another reason to rejoice – I wanted more kids, now I have one!)
Enjoy your children as the treasure they are!