The “Jesus And” Theology

I spent the entire last week drifting in and out of feverish dreams after succumbing to the nasty flu that’s been spreading throughout the village. I went to see Cassian with some medicine because the little dear was burning with fever and coughing; another little girl sat listlessly on my lap after our bath time burning up as well; scores and scores of adults are coming up to the house asking for medicines to fevers, aches, pains, coughs, etc. It’s a doozy this flu. It hit me midway through our Easter Celebration in Mpeta. You know you’re sick when you wander into the woods and fall asleep in the dirt for an hour because the drums hurt your ears. I thankfully spent the rest of the day sleeping on a mat under a tree, with minimal interruptions: being physically grabbed by a Sukuma man who wanted some of my water, a Pimbwe woman who asked me if I was American and then told me to give her clothes and the delight of hot breath on my neck and little hands pulling my hair in curiosity.

Nothing is sacred here.

Except for my knees.

Cover those things up.

Anyway, I really hate being sick. It makes me not love people I normally love and makes me self-absorbed and I throw pity parties for myself far too often. I didn’t even have energy to see my kids this week, which I hated the most.

I did have the revelation in my delirium that sleeping in my mosquito net is like living inside a jellyfish, so that’s fun.

At one point, during my fever I got up to go to the choo and six of my shepherd boys leaned around the corner of the house to see me. I could barely see straight with my fever, but I could see Luca’s smile flashing, that little charmer. The whole thing was very ‘Little Rascals’, and I had to laugh to myself. Luiswis shouted for the whole group:

“You still sick?”

Yeah, boys. Sorry.

Pretty much as soon as they found out I was sick, they left to get into other trouble around the village. Such was the case all week, with kids going and coming as they learned I was sick. The house was very quiet and I missed the kids terribly. Today is the first day I’ve had anything close to energy, so I’m hoping to be able to go back and be ready to be with my kids again. I feel so lost and useless without them.


A short update: the man we helped whose arm we thought would need to be amputated did not need to be after all! The doctors put in a steel bar and the infection has been completely cleared up. He can move his arm up and down a bit, and he’s so pleased, coming to visit us pretty often.

 Additionally, I have to share a sad update as well. I neglected to mention it in my previous blogs, but we’ve been helping two babies with formula, the child of the mother who died, and the very sickly baby who came to see us back in early February. The sickly baby is called Pili, and she lives in Kasaroho with her parents. Hillary and Joseph have been going there at least once a week to evangelize and have shown Mama Pili how to boil the bottle and mix the formula, etc. I was so excited when I heard that Pili was still alive and so thankful that we were able to help her. She was still struggling very much for life and was having trouble seeing and responding to anything after lacking proper nutrition for so long. After several weeks of taking the formula, we received the very sad news that baby Pili was just too sick and passed away. I was devastated when I found out. Pray with us that Hillary and Joseph would be able to minister to the family the love of Jesus, during this difficult time.


It got real this week. I was wondering when it would again. I should have known it would be sooner rather than later.

You know, I’d become pretty impressed with myself. I’ve been doing the Africa thing for nearly five months and I can do it. I can eat the same 10 things only, I can live without electricity, and not straighten my hair and only get internet for 5 hours every week. I can live with the same ten people and currently I’m up to eight months without my family, the longest in my life.

I’ve taught myself to love new things, simple things that can be found here (most of the time). Stupid things, like samosas and roast corn and internet once a week. Nothing really wrong with it, it’s just simple things, you know. It’s good to enjoy the simple things.

This week as I laid in bed being sick, I did a really silly human thing. I encouraged myself and counted down the days until Sumbawanga. Soon you can have something to eat besides ugali. Soon you can talk to everyone you love again. You can have a break from all the….Africa. I’ve come to look forward to Mondays so much over the past three weeks as I’ve been grated down and down by disappointments and going withouts that really aren’t even worth my mentioning.

Arriving in Sumbawanga and there weren’t samosas today, nor corn to be found because in Africa, you never can get what you want twice in a row. Annoying, but whatever. The final straw that hit me was when my internet wasn’t working. All my frustrations of all week being sick and feeling lonely and disconnected just smashed into me and I flipped.

I went to the bathroom and literally pounded my fists against the floor and the wall and screamed how much I hated this stupid country and how tired I am of being hungry and feeling sick and waiting for anything to go right.

I curled up in one of our beds at the Moravians where we stay and just bawled, while it hit me (via Cara and Hillary) exactly what I’ve done.

It’s not bad to have and to enjoy things. I don’t think that and I won’t think it when I actually have things consistently again.

We aren’t doing ourselves any favors or impressing God when we train ourselves to love fewer things. We’re missing it if we’re doing anything less than making Jesus the center of our delight.

 So I laid there, completely exhausted, as Cara read over my the words that are so easy to forget with all our “Jesus and (fill in your vice)” theology:

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are armour and protection. The Lord says. “I will rescue those who love me. I protect those who trust in my name.”

          – Psalm 91: 1-2, 4, 14

More glamorousness. But Jesus is gentle, as many times as I’m foolish… and it’s alot. I would encourage you all to examine your vices, your distractions… anything you embrace as your comfort when you’re alone and tired and afraid. I’m willing to say more people than just me are clinging to their own “Jesus And” theology, when it’s only ever really been Christ who sets us free. Pray with me that I will actually declare the bolded verse like it’s true… not like I’m blindly singing it before a church service as part of a routine. I want this alive in me, I just forget it alot.


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