Friday, July 27, 2012
22 year old Natalie was too proud to come ask me for help. Unlike most people in the village she did not want to ask for a handout. Although she was young, she had become a leader among the women living down by the river doing whatever it took to get food to feed her two kids. But then when her father, a fisherman and leader in the community, died unexpectedly, she sought help and we were there. We were able to help her rent a house with a couple of the other women in our program and she started working in the feeding program preparing food for the elderly. Her little frame betrayed the size of her spunk. Her big smile and forthright nature endeared her to all of the Americans who came to visit. She was ambitious and constantly wanting to meet to talk about possible ways for her to provide for her family. She became the spokes person for the ladies group and often confronted me when they felt there was a problem. I had much time with her to share the truth of the gospel and her need for Jesus. We had a good relationship. As other programs began to pull me away from spending everyday in the fish village, God sent Kelsea, an intern from Colorado, who took over much of the work with the women. She became close friends with Natalie and kept me updated on things in the program. We were eventually able to start a house for Natalie and her family. But then she began to be sick. She missed many days of working. Many trips to the local government hospital did nothing to help her ailing condition. Then she started refusing to go back to the hospital and started losing weight. Against the prodding of friends she refused to go for AIDS testing. By the time she finally did, she was down to a shocking 67 pounds and barely able to walk. The tests came back positive and treatment was started but it was too late. She was dying. As we were visiting her the last time before our trip to the US, Joy and I were heart broken. She was lying on a mat on her little concrete porch. As we shooed away the flies she just smiled up at me and held my hand as tight as she could as we prayed with her and talked. She smiled as we told her we would bring her back a treat from America, all the time knowing she would never hold out that long. Just a week after we arrived home in late June she passed away. I pray she truly understand the commitment she made to Jesus and repented and gave her life to him. We pray her death will soften the hard hearts of the other ladies in the group and they will receive the gift of life. Natalie's two orphans tested HIV positive as well and we are working to figure out their future. Can there be a more "least of these" than an AIDS orphan in a slum of Haiti?