I say, this old house, but truthfully it is not old. It was built about 6 years ago. Its walls are made of woven bamboo, its roof is made of bamboo leaves. It has no running water, no indoor toilet, and no lights; it only has the usual the central fire pit. Complete with three small side rooms, it is large by Kamea standards.
On this particular day, this old house, only a 20-minute hike away from our house, was used to hold the body of a man whose soul has already gone to his Father. He had died the morning before while out in the bush, and they brought his earthly body down to this house. People came from several hours’ hike away to pay respects. Today this old house was filled with mourners, at times crying loudly. Today, Pastor James preached the Gospel inside this old house as we all sat and wept. And as I sat, I thought of all the things this old house has seen in the last 6 years.
Actually I made several trips to this old house to see the old man, for he had chronic urinary troubles, always looking after him by flashlight. We told many stories over the fire, passing medicines across the room to him. And later, as his health failed more, his sons would stop at the clinic to pick up his medicines.
My first visit to this old house was because there was a sick lady staying there. Oh sure, I see LOTS of sick people in various bush huts. This one was no different, really. She came from a distant village and had been an inpatient at the government hospital for a couple of weeks, but was not getting any better. I do not know how they treated her, but I immediately recognized the signs of TB, and started treatment. We visited her daily, even gave injections by flashlight. Over two weeks she improved so much that she was ready to hike back to her own home. The family that owns this old house wanted to burn it down for fear of contracting TB themselves. So this old house became a source for instruction and education. They decided not to burn it down, but let it stand.
Once I was called out on an emergency to this old house. One of the community leaders from a neighboring village was cutting firewood with an ax and missed. He had cut the artery in his foot and was bleeding profusely when Margaret and I arrived. Margaret did her first difficult suture job on this man’s foot, while I instructed. It was successful, and the man stayed that night in this old house, too.
A couple years ago, I was called one morning to come to this old house because of a lady who had a difficult birth the night before. When I got there, she was walking around outside the house holding the new baby. Everyone was fine, thankfully. But I knew neither she nor the baby would be sleeping in the house for several days due to custom, even though this old house seemed to welcome everyone.
Another lady stayed in this old house: Maria from Wake. The family brought her to our clinic one morning in a sheet. They carried her for hours after they realized she could survive. She had been bitten three times on her hand by a death adder a couple days earlier. After she was semi-stabilized, she went to stay at this old house, where she continued to recover for a couple of months. Margaret spent hundreds of hours in Maria’s care, dressing her hand and arm, giving her antibiotics and pain medicines.
This old house has been a blessing! It has been there, right on the dirt trail, and many have been helped. The old man’s life was like this old house. He was a testimony to the Grace of God. His physical walls were made of things that were temporal, just like the bamboo and leaves. But inside there was a central Light that shined. Others knew of the Hope that was inside him; there was rest in his heart. Satan would have liked to have burnt down his spiritual house, but God had a purpose.
Oh, the lessons we can learn from this old house.