I wish I could say that the past few days have been less of a struggle for me as I interact with the men of this culture. Unfortunately, the past 48 hours have been rough. At one point I entertained the thought of using a pair of crutches as clubbing device, I'm not proud of that moment, but thankfully the Holy Spirit intervened and reminded me once again that I am to love my enemies and I should be praying for this man, not considering harming him.
But I find that even in the midst of what seems like an endless ocean of discouragement and frustration and losing battles, the Lord always provides those little sunny rays of blessings. And today, it was in the form of Little B.
I don't know what it is about this kid, but I have such an affinity for him. He's precious! He never says a word . . . and still haven't gotten a full smile out of him . . . but there's just something about him. He always looks serious . . . a bit like an old wise man, way too old for his five little years. Something about the way he sticks his hand out to say hello or to offer a handshake. He's precious!
I've been noticing lately that almost all of the kids I interact with in the hospital carry a coin or two (usually just 25cfa . . . about 5cents) in their hand. No one seems to be able to tell me why.
Well, since I've managed to get in Little B.'s good graces, he often offers me the coins he holding. Which I promptly return, as I cannot bear the thought of taking money from these kiddos. It's wrong on so many levels. But in Hausa culture to give gifts, especially financial ones, is an indicator of friendship and the expression of a desire for the relationship to strengthen.
Today was different though. Little B. had 500cfa (just over a US dollar). And when he waddled into my office for treatment today, he handed it to me. I tried to give it back. He took it, then gave it immediately right back to me. We compromised by leaving it to rest on my desk while we did treatment.
At the end of our playtime . . . I mean, very serious therapy session . . . he got up to leave. I handed him his money. He looked at me sternly, handed it back to me, and without a word was out the door. I looked to his granny for help, she smiled softly and shook her head.
Wanting very much not to take this little malnourished sweethearts next meal from him, I went to the nurses station to find out how I could give it back. They suggested I give it back to him on Monday . . . but that tidbit only came after they giggled at me. Then they told the administrator who is the head of 'hospitalization'. He was surprised but intrigued. I asked him what to do. He insisted that I was in no way to walk into that little boy's room and give him his money back. It would tell him that I am unkind, selfish, and that he means nothing to me. Little B. was offering me his friendship and I had already turned him down a few times (good thing he was persistent!). The administrator then suggested that I use the money to buy him some nutritional food and give it to him on Monday. This would show my reciprocity in our friendship, allow me to give him his money back, and feed him in the process.
Now the hope is that I can keep myself under control and only spend 1,000cfa and not 10,000 on my new little friend.