By now most of you know who Hoax is, but if not you can search (top right) for his name and read a few posts about him. We haven’t written yet about one of his daughters, Ginalyn. Here she is:
As you can see from this picture, she is wasting away. From Hoax and from some other missionaries here who have worked with Hoax in the past, we have learned this:
Until a little over a year ago Ginalyn was a happy, normal girl, but she quickly got very sick, lost a lot of weight and started to feel pain constantly. Her parents took her to the hospital in town where she was treated for numerous diseases (including malaria) without effect. Additionally, her family, as well as the doctors, suspected sorcery as the cause. Later, as her condition worsened, some missionaries took her to the NTM clinic where some thorough testing was done. After her blood was sent to Australia, tests revealed that she has lupus–an incurable disease that causes her immune system to attack her own body. The doctor at the NTM clinic gave her some medicine to control, but not heal the disease.
Ginalyn took this medicine for a while and started to improve. Unfortunately, this led her to believe that she was cured and so she didn’t take the medicine consistently. Her condition deteriorated repeatedly because of the inconsistent treatment.
When we first met Ginalyn a few months ago she looked weak and thin, but even in our time knowing her she has seemed to get substantially worse. (It turns out that she hasn’t been on any medicine during this time.) Recently we reached a point where we felt comfortable talking with Hoax about her history and her current condition. As we talked with him last week, we realized the situation is very complicated. Hoax has some fear/shame of going to a clinic that is full of white people who speak English–or even calling to make an appointment. Plus, while the clinic and another missionary family have covered most of the costs, Hoax’s family is responsible for a $10 fee at each appointment as well as transportation to the clinic. On top of that, there are traditional cultural issues involved as well.
As we considered our relationship with Hoax and our observations regarding Ginalyn’s condition we decided that we would take the responsibility of making an appointment at the NTM clinic. Additionally we decided to take the responsibility of getting them to that appointment (with $10.) One downside of our decision is that others have been trying to encourage Hoax and Margaret to take this responsibility themselves. We do not want to undermine this effort, however, we can see that they haven’t taken this responsibility and things are so bad right now that it is truly a life or death issue.
So today, having made an appointment, I rented one of the mission trucks and drove it out the dirt road to Hoax’s doorstep (Ginalyn can’t walk more than a few steps right now.) I then put $10 in Hoax’s pocket and drove the two of them to the clinic. The nurse and doctor were shocked at Ginalyn’s condition. They gave her five prescriptions to deal with the lupus and her withered state. Additionally they ran some blood tests and set up an appointment for three weeks from now. The outlook is not good, but hopefully the medicine will help her to recover and live longer than she would otherwise.
I have written this uncharacteristically long post to ask for your prayers for this sad and complex situation. Here are some specific things you can pray for:
- Ginalyn’s health. The lupus is wreaking havoc on her body. At the same time, her medicine will weaken her immune system making her susceptible to the many common disease around her (which will now be life-threatening for her.)
- The family’s beliefs and understanding. Even today Hoax asked the doctor where the disease came from. After hearing from multiple doctors and seeing medicine be effective, he still wonders if sorcery could be the cause.
- The family’s compassion for Ginalyn. It is common for people to stop caring for or even feeding family members when they are convinced that family member is going to die. We don’t think that is happening here, but we don’t know what cultural traditions might influence their care.
- The family’s salvation. We have joined a group of NTM missionaries who have already been involved in the lives of this family. We all hope that Hoax and his family will trust in Christ for their salvation. We pray that they would see God’s love for them in the actions of us all.
- Wisdom for us. We don’t know what the “right” decisions are in this situation. There is a lot going on culturally and spiritually and we certainly don’t understand all the implications of our actions. We are trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us through this situation.