You can know something without being told. In Malawi, you know it will rain when it's 30+ degrees and you wish Jesus would come already because your sweat reminds you of so much candle wax that you fear you are actually a wax figurine of a missionary in an African village melting along with every other display in the wax museum because a pyromaniac or disgruntled ex-employee has "arsoned" the heck out of the place. However, you're brought back by the realization that what you're experiencing is called “heat stroke” and really a pint of water will do the trick. Speaking of water, rain - which is made of water, so I’m told - is definitely going to be here soon! How do I know this and am sure of its impending torrential downpour? hmm...because its 30 degrees of death outside and there are visible clouds in the sky, so in about 68.74 seconds those clouds are going to open up and pour! That’s how!
So, you see words are really a misnomer or an extravagance needed to tell only those who do not see the signs of what is…which in a most long winded manner brings us to the meat of this post. That is, what I exactly knew without words.
Last week, while on an outreach, a mother walked in. I remembered her from many past visits but something was missing...the very trophy to show her badge of motherhood, a child - to be specific, her child. Now, uncommon it isn’t to have a mum who lives very close to an outreach to show up once in a while to visit us if maybe her child is sick and another is looking after him/her, but this time, it was apparent that this wasn’t the case.
In her hands, were two of the smallest AFOs (ankle foot orthoses) I’ve ever seen. Smaller than my hands. There were also two very, very small arm wraps.
Now, for her to show up with one of either of these two kinds of items would suggest a repair was needed or if the little one had been present, to show us that the little one was now less little and needed larger gear. I really, really, wish that was how this story had ended.
By now I'm convinced that you already know what I’m going to say. The answer was “Yes…” - yes her child had died from pneumonia just one week earlier.
Again, I wish this was an uncommon story, but without words, I knew. Just like today at a road block - I knew that the president of Malawi was going to be driving past, and she did. Just like I knew that if I didn’t fuel up my car after the fuel light flashed me I would be stuck dead on the side of the road. And as my car tire burst this afternoon on my way to another outreach - where today there was only good news - I am reminded that without words most things are told.
- Jason, Lilongwe from Home