When Life Gives You a Chicken

by Emily Raan

The day started out so normal. The kids even slept in! Leftover-rice porridge for breakfast and then off to town for some quick shopping.

“Quick shopping” quickly turned into two hours, while we made connections with our friends around town. One man, in particular, stood out. He somehow had lost, or possibly never had, the use of his legs. Without a wheelchair he was forced to scoot around on his hands and beg for money. We were starkly reminded, amidst the mundane “normalcy” of our daily shopping, just how harsh the realities are for so many. And there set the tone for the rest of the day.

As soon as we returned to our house, our night guard arrived at our gate with his son. We were so happy to see him, since he’s been gone in the village for a week visiting his family. Having been in the village, he brought us back a chicken for a Christmas gift. Yes. A real. Live. Chicken. Figuring out what to do with that cute little thing so that our dog didn’t kill it before we could was yet another challenge for the day.

However, our night guard’s reason for visiting wasn’t just a casual social call. His son was covered with jiggers on his feet, an infection on his legs, and fungus on his head. He had been living with his grandfather in the village and, I guess, the grandpa, how ever good-intentioned and loving, wasn’t able to care for the boy in the way that was needed. My husband rushed them to the best clinic in town and stayed with them for a while. He made it back just in time for lunch and our power outage – which lasted the whole rest of the day. When it rains, it pours! And the day was only half over.

Also on this day a young lady, “Grace” (not her real name), who has become dear to our family was visiting us. We’ve been paying her to help out with our kids and clean our lunch dishes one day a week for some extra income for her family while on her school break. But I could tell that this day was different. Something was not right. The first clue being that she brought her six year old brother with her this time.

While she was washing dishes and I was beginning dinner prep for our supper that night, I started asking questions. Though hesitant at first, I finally got the story out of her. Grace’s mother has left them to go to a hospital in the capital city to be with her auntie while her cousin is hospitalized with, presumably, poisoning from their local witch doctor. The poor girl’s dad had recently died and now she is sick with the same thing. Grace’s mother has now told her that she doesn’t know when she will return. Confident that she is safe and being taken care of in her current situation after more questions and conversation, I sent her and her brother home with enough money to last for a while.

The struggle is real and the need is great! And in the midst of all of this, our sub-leasers moved in to our back house, friends were in and out all day, my husband had yet more meetings and errands to do in the afternoon, we had to hang another line for drying laundry in our backyard, dinner took a long while to make, and we have a two-month old that needed nursing. And that was only part of the needs that were presented to us this day. There was another situation that also needed tending to, which, for privacy reasons, I’m not able to share.

Yes, this is a true story. And, yes, this all happened in one 24 hour period.

Life gave us a chicken, and I made beef stew. There’s probably a lesson there somewhere, but I’ll leave that to you to figure out; I’m too tired. For now I am choosing to take joy in the God that says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

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Emily and her husband currently live in Uganda with their three kids, but they’ve also lived in India and traveled to six other countries on four continents. Once upon a time she was a high school math teacher, but now she’s living the life as a stay-at-home mom and loving it.  After several years of youth ministry, college life that went on far too long, and a year-long internship, they finally made it to this life abroad that they love so much.

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