I will never forget the day I met Frieda sitting alongside the road in a ditch. She was skin and bones and appeared to weigh 60 pounds, max! As I approached her, I thought, “Oh God, what do I do?”
This frail, young lady had just left the nearby hospital. I quickly decided I should bring her back there because clearly, she needed help! I easily picked up her tiny body in my arms and began walking toward the hospital.
Shortly after that, a Boda taxi (motorcycle) driver arrived and offered to help me bring her to the hospital. I agreed and sat down on the motorcycle seat holding the fragile lady in my arms and off we went to the hospital.
When we arrived, Frieda directed us to her black, plastic covered cot where her few meager belonging still laid there. Frieda was suffering from an advanced stage of AIDS. She was all alone and had no one to take care of her at the hospital.
Let me tell you a bit about the hospitals in Northern Uganda. There are bare hospital cots and doctors or nurses administering medicine-that’s it. Nothing else. If you don’t have someone to take care of you, you’re on your own. There is no one to get you water to drink. No one to cook for you. No one to feed you. No bedding. No soap or water for bathing. Nothing.
The Boda driver named Simon Peter, was a saint. I asked him if he could help me get everything that Frieda would need to stay in the hospital-bedding, clothes, cooking pots and pans and dishes, laundry supplies, food, etc.
When we returned, Freida was looking awful! She was literally curled up in an unnatural, fetal position, writhing in pain. I thought she was on her death bed. The only thing I could think of to make sense of the situation was Mother Theresa’s example of caring for the destitute and dying. If Frieda didn’t have much time left on earth, she needed to know she was loved and not alone.
I asked Simon Peter to help me pray for Frieda in her own language called Acholi. We held hands as we prayed together for God’s love, comfort and peace to come over her. As we ended our prayer together, we led Frieda in a prayer of salvation, which she feebly but clearly repeated along with us.
That night, when I was processing my encounter with Frieda, I thought about what Jesus said in the book of Matthew when he spoke about what really matters to God:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”
Sister Acts is designed so we can do everything we can to help the “least of these.”
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(Story told by Director of GSP, Diane Brask)