Yesterday (and the end of the day before) was just one of those days that I felt like the frailty of life (not just human life) and the prevalence of death and decay was just so in our face.
It actually began on Wednesday afternoon when one of our own dear children accidentally stepped outside and directly onto one of our kittens. At the time we had Ian and Nadia's kids over as well and between them and our children what a frenzy of screaming and wailing, as they had all witnessed it and it was not a pretty sight. The kittens have been stepped on before (they are forever under our feet), but it just must have been the way she stepped on it, and also the fact that she stepped outside which is actually a drop of the height of a normal step, which meant this poor kitten was hurt terribly and was bleeding profusely and obviously going to die. I took the kitten away from their sight, hoping against hope that it would die quickly, but it didn't. Andrew wasn't home at the time, and I knew we were going to have to but the poor thing out of its misery, but how do you do that yourself? Eventually, thankfully, one of the guards came and took it away and killed it and buried it for us. It took a much longer time to work through the emotions with the kids though, especially the poor child (I won't say her name as she is distraught enough already) who stepped on it. "Mum," she sobbed, "if only I hadn't taken that step, if only...." So we had a good lesson on God's providence in every incident, and even in accidents. Helped with the healing process, but we still had lots more tears that night. Even I had trouble falling asleep with images of that poor kitten going through my brain. I think all the guards in our compound thought we were all a bit crazy. Their children are just so used to seeing pretty awful stuff that they sometimes seem to hardly react, and our poor kids, well, their reaction is huge!
Then to top it off we woke up the next morning to find two more kittens dead outside, killed by what looked like a hard bite to the neck. What a sight to be greeted with when you get out of bed. Thankfully we were up before the kids! We are not sure if the mother cat killed them in a "confused" sense of protecting them from the perceived "enemy" who killed her other kitten, or if a Tom Cat came around (there has been one hanging around). From my internet research both are plausible - the Tom Cat may kill to get the mother cat on heat more quickly. Either way I will not let the mother cat near the 2 remaining kittens unless I am there watching her. She seems to be loving toward them so who knows???
Soon after all this, as the children went to school my mobile rang and I received a call from Agnes' (the lady who has been sick) husband. He started off by telling me that "last night Agnes died" (pure translation of his Tok Pisin). My heart just did a huge flip, and then I heard him say that "she came back, after I threw cold water on her", and I was relieved, but just then Andrew walked in the door and I handed the phone to him, so I could calm down from the shock. Poor Agnes is still so sick. Before starting literacy class this morning I went to see her. She was just so weak. I had spoken to an ex-pat nurse I know and she suggested that she was probably dehydrated. So I showed the family how to make us some re-hydrating solution with water, sugar and salt, and she started drinking that. After the literacy class she was doing a wee bit better, and by the afternoon when Andrew and Ian went to see her she was doing a bit better yet. However, she is still so sick. Typhoid is an awful illness to contend with. She needs her strength to fight the disease. Coupled with this all is a mistrust of the medical system here. I felt so helpless when with her in the morning. We can't afford (and we can't set up the precedent) to take her and all our members to the International hospital all the time, as this costs an arm and a leg, especially for extended treatment. And then even that hospital is still very Papua New Guinean meaning it is not like being in a Western Hospital. But it just makes it so hard to watch someone be sick and suffer. We know we have done what we can - she has been taken to a good doctor, she has received much extra help from us as missionaries, but you always feel like you need/want to do more.
So I drove away from Literacy, after sitting with Agnes and her extended family for a few more minutes, just having that awful feeling in my stomach. And then to top it all off as we (I was dropping the Ladies back off near Biwat) drove home and neared our compound I watched in horror as a woman was being attacked by her husband on the side of the road. She was kneeling helplessly on the ground as he grabbed rocks and threw them at her. And what does everyone else do? Nothing. Just walked by. They can't get involved. Yes, they could stop the man, but after all the woman is his wife, so he can do what he wants with her. And if they interfere, well it will probably come back to haunt them with retaliation from the man and his family. So everyone just turns a blind eye and the violence continues.
When I got home I was just feeling so deflated. Although we see so much of that kind of thing, we never seemed to get used to it (nor should we). But then I had to refocus. Refocus on the fact that I was just witnessing/sharing in these events. How much worse for those who were actually suffering and for the many, many like them suffering here in PNG and in this world. Then I had to refocus on God, on Him and His enduring Faithfulness, on Him as the only Constant in this world of change and death and decay, on His Word and His promises. And that is always a good thing to do.