We have created an album on Facebook sharing pictures of the new Hope Matters land. Click the link below to view them:
Today, Friday April 25th, is World Malaria Day. So I want to take just a few moments to share some thoughts and stories about this wretched disease.
I’ll never forget the first malaria death I handled here in Kenya. I don’t remember the date, but I vividly remember the patient. She was just 7-years-old… Her mom carried her into the clinic. She was unconscious, dehydrated, anemic and had extremely high fevers. We did everything we could. Shortly after she started IV medical therapy we lost her pulse because her heart had stopped beating. I knew she was gone but I did CPR anyway. She was only seven! It felt wrong. Really, really, wrong, for such a sweet young life to be cut so short by a disease that came from a mosquito bite. Her mom was in shock. I was in shock. It was a tough day.
I’ll also never forget what it felt like to get malaria for the first time. It landed me in the hospital as a patient and took weeks for me to fully recover. At one point I actually dreamed that I was going to a white light and my life was over. I was really disappointed when I woke up from that dream to discover I was still alive. Thankfully I did live through the experience and came out the other side with some pretty strong feelings about malaria!
Someone recently asked me how malaria affects someone. I explained that malaria is a parasite in the blood. So everywhere that the blood goes, malaria goes. These are just a few of the symptoms commonly observed:
The bad news is that according to the World Health Organization we are still seeing more than 200 million cases annually and that approximately 627,000 people actually die from this disease each year. Most of those deaths are children in Africa under the age of five. The good news is that these numbers actually represent a 54% drop in mortality since the year 2000. So we are making progress!
The best thing that we as health providers can do about malaria is working to prevent it from happening in the first place. We do this by distributing mosquito nets and teaching people about the importance of having every member of the household sleep under a net. We educate about eliminating stagnant water which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. We encourage people to stay indoors and take proper precautions in the evenings when the malaria-carrying mosquitoes tend to make their appearance. We encourage families to seek appropriate care immediately at the first signs of sickness. Treating an early case is much easier and has a greater success rate that treating someone with advanced illness.
Slowly by slowly we wage war on malaria and the mosquitoes transmitting this disease! If you would like to learn more about malaria you can visit the World Health Organization site by clicking here.
This final devotional in our Lent series is brought to you by Jamie Martos. It is written in the traditional style. May this Easter fill your heart with hope!
Lectio: John 20:1-9
Meditatio: “Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark….” Still dark. Darkness shrouds the earth, dawn has not broken, and the light of faith has not yet risen in Mary Madalene’s heart. The night still seems to reign, yet this is illusion! Something unforeseen, new, living–pulsing with hope–has emptied the tomb of death in the night. Mary is still shocked. Nothing is as it was, yet she does not yet understand what is to be. The idea of Christ alive–risen!–is still unthinkable, beyond possibility. Mary runs to the disciples not in hope, but in desperation: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” She runs in fear, believing the tomb has been raided, the body of the one she loves stolen in the night. She runs, because she cannot face this alone.
Why do our hearts resist resurrection? Why can’t we grasp the possibility of new life? Sometimes, it’s harder to embrace resurrection than the cross! Why? What keeps us from seeing and believing, as John does? Perhaps it is because accepting resurrection means accepting all that came before it. All the pain and confusion were necessary in order to bring us this new life of joy, freedom, and hope. The resurrection cannot exist without the cross. We rebel against this reality, yet it remains true, both in the life of Christ, and in our own lives. Somehow it is often in our times of deepest darkness, in the secretive silence of the tomb, that Christ brings us the most profound gifts of grace, insight, maturation, and growth. Jesus then comes and raids our tombs of death with his new life! And we find that we are a new creation. We are utterly transformed!
We may at times find ourselves with Mary, weeping before an empty tomb. Yet we know that in a few short hours, Mary’s profound grief and fear will give way to profound wonder, joy, and awe!
Oratio: Jesus, what was it like for the disciples that first Easter morning? I can only imagine! To have one’s sense of loss and fear unexpectedly overcome by the unprecedented moment of resurrection! Jesus, I know you are at work in my life too, opening long-sealed tombs and bringing new life. Open my eyes to the glory of your resurrection within and around me. Help me to see and believe. And, in believing, may my spirit be disposed to receive the true joy and peace you bring. For your love has conquered death!
Contemplatio: Lord, I believe!
Jesus spoke these words immediately after his triumphal entry on Palm Sunday. He was referring to the crowds who had so enthusiastically welcomed him without any true understanding of why he was really there. Palm Sunday was all about wrong expectations. As the people shouted out “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 10:9b) they were recognizing Jesus’ kingship. However, they were incredibly short-sited and saw that kingship as an earthly salvation from the daily oppression they were experiencing under the Roman rule. The expectation was that Jesus was there to lead a revolution and bring a physical deliverance. The concept of spiritual deliverance was not considered on that day of celebration. And this fact brought grief to Jesus’ heart. Within a few short days, that crowd who had so enthusiastically welcomed Jesus were calling for his execution as their expectations were grossly unmet.
While contemplating Palm Sunday I’ve really taken some time to stop and ask myself “Michelle, does Jesus weep over the fact that you often miss what would bring you peace because you are so caught up in your own expectation of what you want from him?” So often I think that we miss the big picture by getting caught up in our own personal drama and desires. We lose site of the incredible gifts Jesus has to offer because we have placed our own expectations on him. Not that he is incapable of meeting those expectations; but so often he has something more, something bigger, in mind for us. He absolutely could have led a revolution in Jerusalem and wiped out the Roman oppression of the Jews. But imagine all that would have been lost if that was all that he had come for.
This Easter let’s pause to give thanks for the incredible gifts that Jesus offers. Let us also take a moment to stop and consider if our eyes are truly open to embracing those gifts. Or are we trading God’s peace for anxiety, and his joy for pain, as we struggle with placing expectations on Jesus that are not appropriate or in his plan for our best?
Time is flying and I’m again late with the prayer points for the month. Sorry for those who have been waiting for them!
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2: 8 – 10 NLT
Lent may be something you have observed every year of your life. Or it may be a totally new concept. I’ve seen a lot of social media posts talking about Lent this year. In the first week I talked a little about some of the three traditional aspects of lent: giving something up, taking something on, and almsgiving. But I want to make sure that in the midst of observing one or perhaps all of those practices, that we don’t lose sight of the gift of Easter. Ultimately this season comes down to grace. It’s a gift that God gives us through His mercy, an incredible that mercy we don’t deserve.
Yes there are disciplines that when put into practice will grow and enrich our walk with the Lord. But I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that my salvation is a free gift that is offered to everyone who believes. I love the above Biblical passage because it looks at both grace and implementing good works. The author tells us that alone there is no way on earth that we could ever be good enough and earn enough favor to get into heaven of our own accord, it’s purely God’s mercy and our acceptance of that gift. But then he goes on to emphasize that God does have good things that he wants us to do; things that have been planned specifically for us.
As Easter is rapidly approaching let’s take a moment to bow our heads and give thanks for this free gift of salvation. But let us not stop there but continue to search for the good things that God has planned for us to do and to live them out each day. This Sunday morning can you take a few moments to write down a few things you feel He is prompting you to do to grow your walk with Him? If you feel like sharing, drop me a line. I’d love to hear about how God is moving and working in your heart.