Moth Balls, Roaches, Hand Clapping, Honor…

No less than six times last week, we “caught” a mom feeding their infant water in a bottle containing several moth balls.  On the street I walked past a 7-8 year old girl sucking on a moth ball like it was candy, tossing it in the air, playing with it…  So strange, so toxic.  Where there is radical lack of health care and education…    BTW, the water here is likely more toxic than the MB.  Who will go clothe me when I’m naked, teach me in my ignorance, give me clean water?


I am a ridiculously early riser (I have a movement disorder that sends me to bed early) and it is truly amazing what lives in the African kitchen in the dark.  Literally thousands of roaches that I never see in the day.  There’s a spiritual analogy in there somewhere…  I don’t think my kids can tolerate any more proverbs… early bird… roach…  Hmm…  The roach… in the pot calling the kettle black… in the kitchen… is greener on the other side… of the broken clock… twice a day…  You’ve gotta feel for my kids…


We traveled to two remote health care works this weekend.  Both were former mission stations that were destroyed during the war.  Both had a minimally trained nurse seeing 30+ patients/day with little medicine and no supplies.  Beautiful men, serving their community pretty selflessly.  One with Cerebral Palsy who could barely get a round.  I was emotionally touched as I watched him struggle to move around, knowing that he serves people tirelessly in this manner.  I was also struck by how many forgotten people, for more than two thousand years, have literally given their lives, in Jesus’ name, to go to the hard places and serve the naked, hungry, sick, wounded and displaced people that He dearly loves.  I can’t wait to meet them one day…


We have a nurse in our clinic who speaks nine languages fluently (including french, english, and portuguese).  Another that speaks eleven.  No one here speaks less than three.  And we think we’re pretty intelligent in the States and the people in Africa are “backward”!


When the people of this region greet each other, they clap their hands and bow and shake hands and clap some more.  It is one of the coolest things I’ve seen.  They put forth so much effort to communicate value to the other.  They treat each other with such honor and respect and communicate this with such humility.  It is so clear that suffering and difficulty produces real depth of beauty.  I don’t see this love and honor for the other in me and want it so much more.  I see my Father putting a love in me for this people, but a love not at all based on pity, but a love based on admiration and respect.  These folks are so honorable, so other-focused, so very deeply beautiful, living with so very little.


Still no malaria in our family in Luena!


It was about 2:00p one day and I was trying to sneak away for just a few minutes to grab a quick snack.  The line of people to see was still long and one woman stopped me and asked me if she would be seen soon.  I told her that she could be next and I whined that I hadn’t eaten lunch yet and just wanted to grab a quick bite.  She, quite respectfully, said that she had been there since 5:00a and hadn’t eaten either.  My potato and pear didn’t quite taste as good…


The intensity of the Amazon rains is by no means unique.  We have been deluged in the last weeks and we’re told it will last through March.  We might have a tricky trip back to Lubango (20 of 28 hrs on rough dirt “roads”) in mid-December.  The temps are near 90 in the day (when the sun is out) and in the 60s at night.  It is mildly humid and we rarely sweat.


The clinic can be overwhelming, at times.  With all of the Typhoid Fever and Malaria, we also see so many other critical cases (over 100/day).  We had a young man of 23 arrive yesterday with severe heart failure, secondary to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart often from infectious disease.  With ultrasound, I could see that his heart was functioning at less than 10% capacity.  We’ll see today if he made it through the night.  I hope his carditis was caused by malaria (which he has), because it’s potentially reversible.  I think we have 5-6 people in malaria comas now.  We had a young boy of 9 wake up yesterday after 6 days of treatment.  I tell each dramatic recovery that they have lived because God has a purpose for them.  It is too cool to see the light bulb flicker as they appreciate God’s hand in their life.


I would ask for prayer as my Restless Legs Syndrome is becoming somewhat paralyzing.  I am fine when busy during the day and in the early morning hours.  But it is almost intolerable after returning home from the clinic when I want to sit and rest.  It simply isn’t possible.  I then take medication, which is sedating, and am looking for bed by 7:00-8:00p.  My evenings are either miserable awake or spent sleeping.  I need help, healing, counsel, etc.  I’ve had this for years but it is really progressing and becoming quite incapacitating.


I’ve had meetings this week with the leaders of two denominations for this province (a very rural province in eastern Angola) and they are both very interested in working with me to provide health care to the most remote people.  I’ve loved seeing their hearts for the “least”.  This has been quite a contrast to the “cool” reception we’ve received in Lubango (a bigger, busier city with big, busy churches).  These leaders both said that people trained in the city, as in the Amazon, simply do not move to the rural areas to live and minister.  They are willing to make trips into the interior, but not really invest there.  The only way to make disciples is to “go”.  “Go” means to live among them.  The crusade mentality (sending teams for brief visits/meetings) produces little change in the rural areas.  The people who go feel good about going on trips but little changes.  It was interesting hearing this from elderly, seasoned, African, men of God.  This is challenging, of course, because living in the rural areas is needed to relationally love on more than a superficial level, and living in the rural areas is tough compared to a city.  The question is whether we want narrow and deep or wide and shallow in our Kingdom work.  This reminds me that each of us can really only affect a few people at a time, who will affect a few people, etc.  This is kingdom multiplication and, in our effort to have a large impact, we often superficially touch many (through meetings, services, etc) who impact no one and the process stops.  My experience in Brazil and here is emphasizing to me that our trips might have an impact but where we live will be more important.  I must continually remind myself that I want to have a lasting impact rather than do something that makes me feel important, useful, needed, good, etc.  Where we live and rub shoulders with people every day (our community) will likely have more of an eternal impact than all of our trips combined.  We will continue to seek a rural location among a people group with little gospel presence and large health care need.


We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving week.  God is drawing us (and all men) to Him and we have every reason to spend this week giving Him our heartfelt thanks.


  1. So glad that I found your blog, Tim…your words have caused me to pause and think about my blessings this Thanksgiving and what Our Father has provided. We are thankful that you all are there heeding The Great Commission and extending God’s loving hands to those in need. Our family extends many warm wishes to you and yours this Thanksgiving season!
    Lisa Ward

  2. Amazing story. I will be praying for your legs. Do battle with that myself. Alright while I’m up going. I am with your kids having grown up in the south with flying cockroaches. The only good ones were dead ones but you still had to sweep them up, yuck
    I know God has so many blessing for all of you. In His Name,

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