Instead of having “Gavin” and Tracey” stencilled on the windscreen of their vehicles, some Zambians have religious quotations or Biblical texts. Rather worryingly, one truck coming towards me in the middle of the dirt road had “Father Forgive Them” across the windscreen. Forgive who? His victims? I pulled over onto the side of the road to let the truck pass in a cloud of dust.
I saw a catchy bumper sticker recently, “Micah 7:7-9” so I looked it up:
7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication.
What on earth was the driver trying to say? That his car lights don’t work? It seems very strange.
Now on the wall of the medical records store and dispensary at Kakumbi Rural Health Centre, there is another text:
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
I suppose God is going to give us a “heads up” as to what is going to happen in the coming year. We knew the rainy season was prolonged and there had been no spraying of insecticide, so we thought malaria would be a big problem this year. We managed to cope with 1,352 patients with malaria in May, despite running out of medication several times. Happily, we got the supplies we needed and no one died.
Perhaps the shelter for pregnant women will be built at long last (the waiting area has been clogged with building materials for over a year for this project).
And maybe the new maternity unit will be connected to the electricity supply so we can use it.
If God is going to let us know what is going to happen, we need to communicate better. Most meetings begin and end with a prayer. At a Monday morning meeting in April, the clinic staff once asked me to lead the prayers. The cheeky devil in me couldn’t resist saying, “Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem…” which caused a bit of a stir.
“What does that mean, doc? Are you muslim?”
I said, “It means In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.”
“Don’t you have a Christian prayer, doc?”
“Okay, how about For what knowledge we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful, for Christ’s sake, amen.”
This was too short to be acceptable, so someone else took over and I haven’t been asked again. Phew.