Blessed in the heartbreak and chaos

A few weeks back on Friday, I was having what I thought was a really challenging day. I felt a bit overwhelmed and I was exhausted by the end of it. I felt like I was mentally scrambling from one thought to the next, just trying to keep on top of it all. I even wrote a list to myself of all the things that I’d heard that day… the comments and thoughts that had made me reel a little bit… I thought it would be good to look back on them a few days later and reflect. We were already at the end of a rather tiring week. Cam had been sick with malaria but we thought he was on the mend… And then all of this happened.

  • There’s no water… that was the first thing I noticed when I woke up
  • “My head really hurts!” Cam’s words despite taking panadol, nurofen and codeine.
  • “You just need to climb up the tank stand and adjust the float valve.” Cam’s instructions from his death bed… to his wife who is kind of terrified of ladders and heights.
  • “Mama, kwangadi cimento!” Our workers telling me that they can’t keep building the wall because the cement has run out.
  • “The doctor wants me to go and stay at the hospital until the baby comes but I’m afraid they’ll do a caesarean.” My pregnant (and well overdue) friend in the city whose Mum nearly died after a caesarean.
  • “Mum, your cursive writing is so bad I can’t even read it.” Matilda in school.
  • I think we should go to the hospital.
  • “Mum, how long will you be gone for?” The kids as we left them home with the workers to take Cam to the hospital.
  • “He has malaria.” The Dr at the hospital, we kind of figured that was still the case but it’s good to confirm.
  • “You should consider other options.” A concerned friend wondering (with good reason) if the tablets we got for Cam from the local clinic are legit.
  • “You didn’t understand what I said did you?” One of our workers… no, I didn’t understand every word but there’s no need to be a jerk about it.
  • “Did you understand what I said?” A lady in the village explaining that she would come and visit Cam soon.
  • “I wish you were here.” My sister lamenting how lonely we both are sometimes.
  • “Fluff that, come home!” My other sister realising that there have been attacks in our province recently.
  • A nine year old girl died during her initiation ceremony just across the road.
  • “I didn’t come to work today because my neighbours kid died and I accompanied the body back to their home village.” Another one of our workers.
  • “We need to pick up those letters from the Registo.” Cam, meaning I had to go back and get the letters.
  • “When are you going to start a preprimary for our kids?” A lady at the Registo… ummm, never.

Two and a half weeks later and I can honestly say that that was one of the easier days I’ve had this month.

We went to Malawi last week to pick up the Falconers – hallelujah! They arrived on Saturday, we stayed the night and then we were preparing to head back Sunday morning when I found out that my best friend here… the one who was very overdue… had passed away. She gave birth to a beautiful baby boy but then started bleeding and they couldn’t save her. I was (still am) heartbroken. We decided we’d go straight to Lichinga, ready for the funeral the next day. I cried pretty much the whole way.

The next few days were a bit of a blur of the funeral, visiting with the family, visiting the baby in hospital, coming back home to drop off the kids with the Falconers, heading back to Lichinga for the 3 day ceremony, sitting with dozens of women in a hot, stuffy room crying together, being comforted by people I don’t even remember meeting before. There were so many little, sacred moments of heartbreak in those days… they cant be shared with the world… but they left me shattered.

We took the week off school and spent the entire weekend chilling out and watching TV. It wasn’t long enough. On Sunday Cam left in the afternoon with Scott, back to Blantyre to pick up some freight. At about 5:30pm, Sydney fell off the retaining wall out the back of our house, onto her back on the concrete. I heard Jack yelling and came out to find her, not very responsive, lips a bit purple, lying on the ground. It was about 30 seconds before she started sobbing “Mama,” and in that time I’d  threatened God that unless she was totally fine, I was done being here. She was totally fine half an hour later. But it scared the crap out of us… we all cried that night. I’m not sure why these things always seem to happen while Cam’s away.

Monday morning came along… we normally start off our days at school with a quick devotional and prayer. The devotion was about being blessed… how it really means that God is using everything – good and bad – to shape us into the people he really wants to be. I know that’s true, I believe it with all my heart but as I sat there reading it with the kids, telling them I didn’t really understand God sometimes, I really just wanted to tell God to get stuffed.

Then we prayed… which was fine until I remembered that the last time we had sat there all together praying, the kids were praying for my friend to have the baby and for everything to be ok – so then we all started crying again. We battled through a bit of school, spent the afternoon resting and had a lovely surprise visit from some beautiful friends who just made the world seem a little bit brighter.

Yesterday, we did school, it went ok, we were all feeling a bit better and then I heard a noise. I stepped out onto the verandah and soon realised – there was a bushfire! Of course! It was between the Falconers house and ours, moving towards our back fence. Thankfully our workers got on top of it quickly so just 20 mins or so of filling buckets and running back and forward it was out again.

I hope that’s it for a little while. It makes me think of that Mother Theresa quote: “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

I hate blog posts that are full of anguish and then end on a positive note, lesson learned, everything’s ok, happy thought, super spiritual words of wisdom… you know the ones. But I will leave you with this… my friend’s little baby boy is doing really well. Praise God. Please pray for him and the family.

2 thoughts on “Blessed in the heartbreak and chaos

  1. Hi Kath!

    Wow…what a day….but quite the norm in Africa, we discovered! Friends taught us early on, “Oh, TIA!” They didn’t mean what we thought (transient ischaeic attack) but This Is Africa! But, as you have discovered, you do survive, albeit with frazzled nerves. I must admit that my midwife alarm bells were ringing when you said your friend was overdue and not planning to do anything about it (easy for ME to say, knowing what was happening and what would happen), but then the sirens were going off when you wrote about Cam!

    You might not feel like hearing any advice, but can we give you a few hints to AVOID some of the frustration?…..better than having to go through it again!

    Drums : Buy some plastic water drums and keep one full in the kitchen and another full in the bathroom. Then when you get up to no water (notice I said WHEN not IF), you can cook, clean, bath and flush for a day or two without frustration. The locals there all work with only a drum or two, if they have even that, and we survived 20 years with no running water at all, so it does work. The key is not getting caught unprepared.

    Check : And speaking of planning ahead, the locals do not do that about anything at all without careful training! You will get no warning that materials are low, just the “we are out”, so you have them twiddling thumbs until you or someone trustworthy can rush around and get what they need.. So you personally need to check their materials and tools each afternoon to make sure they have enough for the next 2 days’ work….but probably you have figured that one out now. It took about a year of drilling for our builders to be able to say, “We will be needing nails (or cement or whatever) in 3 day’s time.” And now they can send a fortnightly truck to site with everything on it! Success…but it took a LOT of work.

    Malaria : the strain of malaria there can and will kill in 24 hours! You have had a bad run with it. What on earth are you taking as prophylaxis? Malarone is BY FAR the best, although plenty expensive. Cheaper though than time lost, recouperative holidays or a medivac. But once you have had malaria, some will hole up in your liver and come out to cause trouble whenever you get run down or sick with something else. So it is ESSENTIAL that you get LA (or Coartem) and keep it on hand at ALL times, and take it at the first signs of fever, weakness and headache. Carry it with you in Perth and for several years after leaving Africa later, too. It is easily bought there, and Jim has told Cam about it before. BUT remember that after you take the first dose or two, especially if you have waited a while, you will feel worse because of your immune system reacting to all the dead parasites in your blood, but keep taking it. Don’t be lax with fulciparum malaria!

    We loved your quote from Mother Theresa…..sooooo true! But He does know what you can cope with, and He will help give you a positive attitude. Is it a problem or an opportunity? Is it a disaster or an adventure? Hard lesson, though 🙃🙄

    Well, better go….Jim is going out pounding the pavement on the census beat, and my first project this morning is to scrub all 6 large wheelie bins of this block of flats…who else will tackle the abominable state of them? Good exercise!

    God bless over there, and put a smile on your face today… Love,

    Robyn and Jim in cold Perth (3 this morning…BBRRRR)

    On Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 11:36 PM, the beeck brief wrote:

    > Kath Beeck posted: “A few weeks back on Friday, I was having what I > thought was a really challenging day. I felt a bit overwhelmed and I was > exhausted by the end of it. I felt like I was mentally scrambling from one > thought to the next, just trying to keep on top of it all. ” >

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