A letter from Marilyn Hansen in Ethiopia
I saw in the rearview mirror that his face was etched with pain and he was doubled over in the backseat. I was driving our friend Daniel to a government place that sells oxygen tanks and equipment.
Only a few nights before there was a knock on our door. Alemu, a worker in our compound, wanted us to drive Daniel to his house because he was too sick to remain at work. I had no car at the time, but when Rich came home from his evening class he, along with Alemu, drove Daniel home and helped him into his house.
Rich and I have known Daniel since our second month living in Ethiopia. He works in the large compound where our house is located, along with other houses, apartment buildings and guesthouses. Daniel is employed as a guard and has been a family friend for more than three years.
Since that time we have seen his health deteriorate. He had hepatitis when he was younger and it appears that his liver has been damaged because of it. He also has heart problems, lung problems and gastric problems. Daniel is probably in his early 40s. He and his wife and four children (ages 7-17) live in a tiny two-room house located behind another house and reached by a very narrow dirt path between a fence and the side of a building.
Receiving good medical care and paying for good medical care are constant issues for many Ethiopians. Here in Addis health care is readily available; whether competent doctors are available is another question. For those who have multiple and/or severe medical issues, paying for health care can be an insurmountable issue. In Daniel’s case some of his medical expenses are paid by his employer. But he must pay these expenses upfront and then ask for reimbursement. And if there is not enough money on hand to pay upfront, what does he do?
In Daniel’s case he has supportive people who help him financially with his medical needs. Many in Ethiopia do not have that support.
In Daniel’s case also, he has a community of co-workers who care about him. He has friends such as Alemu who step in to help. When he was very sick a few weeks ago, many of those who work in the compound collected money for him and his family (a sacrificial offering, since many of them also face difficult financial circumstances). A number of his co-workers made the trip to his home in order to show their concern for him and to offer prayers on his behalf. (It was only when they arrived that they learned that prayers and Christian songs weren’t allowed because Daniel was renting from Muslims.)
Daniel has improved physically. The oxygen is helping. He continues to take different kinds of medicine for his various medical problems. He is realistic about his health; he knows he may not live to be an elderly man. But Daniel is a Christian and believes that his God is trustworthy and has given him salvation.
The word salvation in Greek means health. As we consider the birth of Christ this month, I pray that we can rejoice in the salvation that is offered freely to all of us through this tiny baby who grew into the salvation-giver to the world. This Christmas we can experience health in its fullness, health without bounds, health wrapped in love.
With Christmas joy,
Rich and Marilyn
Contact Marilyn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Rich: email@example.com
To view our website or support us financially: www.pcusa.org/rich-and-marilyn-hansen
To visit our blog: http://www.meskelmusings.wordpress.com
Prayer and praise:
Praise that Daniel is more healthy and prayer that his health would not deteriorate
Prayer for the many Ethiopians who face lack of medical care and/or lack of financial resources
Praise for the salvation-giver whose birth we celebrate
Praise that we have you to support us in prayer, in your communication with us, and in your giving to our financial support
The 2014 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 133
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