friday i woke up to a pain in my stomach. it was not a pain i was used to and certainly not one i liked. i went to work, but as the day progressed, so did the pain in my abdomen. finally, after much grumbling on my part [because, quite frankly, i just don’t like to do it] i called my doctor’s office. her earliest appointment was one week away. that wasn’t going to work for me. the nice woman on the other end of the line asks, “well, what are you wanting to come in for?” i think the words “severe abdominal pain” must be some sort of magic because as soon as they left my lips, i was transferred to a nurse. and after saying them to a nurse there was magically an appointment available in one hour’s time. of course it wouldn’t be with my primary physician – but who cared, i was having severe abdominal pain. seriously, i might start using that line every time i need a doctor’s appointment.

anyway, at 4pm i entered the doctor’s office and shortly found myself in a room with a nurse, describing my pain and all the delightful side effects that came along with it. and, shortly after that i find myself lying on the examination table receiving an abdominal check from the doctor. eventually the possible appendicitis scare is calmed, and i’m having a conversation with the doctor – during which he is trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. he orders up some labs [which include multiple vials i get to take home and fill up – oh joy], gives me eating instructions, and sends me on my way.

once home i settle into a recliner chair to watch some mindless television with sarah. things just get worse. the pain in my stomach gets more intense, my entire body begins to ache [that stupid all-over-the-body flu-ish sort of ache] and i become so cold my teeth literally begin to chatter. i can’t, for the life of me [what little, pathetic life it may be at this point], get comfortable. so, i make my way upstairs, draw a bubble bath, and soak until i can finally feel myself again and the pain is relieved – at least temporarily. soon ty arrives with fruit floes [a delicious, frozen trader joe’s treat] and star wars [ty obviously thought he could trick me, in my weak state, into finally watching it]. we didn’t end up watching star wars [or anything else for that matter], but instead we sat on the couch – eating fruit floes – and talking. which, in my opinion, is way better than a movie, even on a good day.

i was convinced that the next morning i would feel better. boy, was i wrong. the pain, rather than coming in waves, decided it would simply move into my abdomen and not leave. i could hardly leave my bed [or, i guess, the horizontal position] without buckling over in pain. i was comfortable in one of two ways: lying down with a heating pad on my stomach or completely immersed in a hot bubble bath. anything else wasn’t worth the pain. so, in bed i remained for most of the day.

now, there’s something many people may not know about me. i can’t relax in a messy room. if i’m watching a movie or reading a book or trying to study or writing a letter in a messy room, i go crazy. i’m guessing it’s my mother’s genes coming out in me [which was bound to happen, sooner or later], but it’s true. that’s not to say my room doesn’t get messy, but the moment i need to do something or want to do something in that room – i have to straighten it up first. trouble is, when you are writhing in “severe abdominal pain,” it’s difficult to clean your room. so, here i was, in my messy room and stuck in bed. it was killing me. it was driving me mad. and there was nothing i could do about it. i tried to close my eyes, i tried to watch internet television, but i knew – i knew that my room was messy and there was no way i was going to be able to relax.

that’s when sarah walked in. being one of the few that knows my insane OCD nature, she begins to pick up. she begins to sort through the heap of laundry on the floor. separating the clearly dirty clothes from the clean [or mostly clean] ones. i object – “sarah, stop it, you do not have to clean my room.” “okay,” she calmly responds as she continues to sort. “no, seriously, sarah, stop.” and again, she continues folding clothes. she doesn’t stop. she keeps going. and i keep objecting [pathetically from my bed – i mean, i could hardly move]. each time i object, sarah gets a little more frustrated until finally she snaps a pair of sweats at me, raises her voice, and says, “lisa! be quiet. just let me serve you. i want to be kind. you can’t relax in here, i know it, and so just let me do this. if you tell me to stop one more time i’m going to get really angry at you. just let me do this.” i backed down, i tried to stop her a couple more times, but eventually i gave up the fight. and sarah cleaned my room. she folded my laundry. she dusted my furniture. she organized the crap on my nightstand. she swept and mopped my floors. she brought me gingerale. she brought me tylenol. she re-heated my flaxseed bag. you know what, she even took vials of my personal shit [literally] to the lab for me. and she served me. kindly and graciously.

and i saw Jesus in a friend.

laundry: day eight.

March 1, 2010

far left: charlie. far right: daniel.

my first summer in tanzania i encountered God in the most ordinary of tasks. i had been in tanzania for three weeks, volunteering at an orphanage [KiChiJo] when i left. i had only planned to be in tanzania for three weeks, and then i was off to experience south africa – first for a week long safari and then for four weeks of volunteering. however, upon arriving in south africa i discovered a relentless ache in my heart to return to tanzania…so, after an incredible week of safari, i flew back to tanzania. i couldn’t wait to walk back through town to KiChiJo, as i winded my way through corn fields, nearing the orphanage, i could hear the voices of the children i had left just one week earlier. the anticipation was almost too much to bear. i turned the final corner and saw familiar children playing soccer in front of the orphanages main entrance. other kids were running around here and there, playing whatever game had momentarily grabbed their attention. and, in the square section of the lot devoted to laundry, i saw two boys bent over a silver bucket, scrubbing clothes. for a moment none of them noticed me. for a split second i was completely invisible, blessed with a moment to just stop and watch them. tears in my eyes, i knew. i knew that what i was looking at was the loveliest of scenes playing out before my eyes. and then gifti saw me. his little four-year-old body came flying at me, huge grin on his face. it was over, my moment of invisibility had passed, and suddenly there were 15 or so kids swarming me. they left their soccer game, they jumped out of the tree nearby, they came running from whatever it was they were doing to welcome me back. except those two boys, bent over the silver bucket. daniel and charlie stayed close to their laundry pile. they looked on, they grinned, but being the older boys that they were [14 & 16, respectively] they kept their cool. after a few minutes, i made my way over to them. we greeted one another and i asked if i could help with the laundry. laughing, they told me “no.” but, i’m persistent, and eventually, all three of us were bent over, sleeves rolled up, and scrubbing those clothes. the boys laughing and chatting in swahili – conversing, i’m sure, about how silly i was or how awful i was at washing clothes [especially for a woman]. i started to sing. a silly song i’d heard on the radio countless times since i’d been there. i don’t know if it was my singing voice, my ridiculous pronunciation of the swahili words, or my whiteness – but something about me starting to sing that song sent these boys into uncontrollable laughter. i said, “alright, you sing it then.” and they did. these boys who played shy began to sing. and i started dancing. and together we sang and danced – all the while doing the laundry. every day i came back, for the rest of my three weeks there, i spent time doing laundry with those boys…dancing, laughing, singing, and [of course] hanging those clothes out to dry. laundry had never been such a holy thing.