Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Memory of Mark

In 2008 we met an Ik man named Mark (pseudonym) from the village of Kamion. Mark was tall, thin, and had one good eye. Someone had damaged his other eye in a fight. My first memories of Mark were him asking me for sunglasses and me bringing a pair on our next visit. Later he named his newborn son after me (Terrill).


Fast forward a year or more later. We stopped briefly in the Karamojong town of Kalapata, halfway between our home in Kaabong and our home in Timu. As usual, we got ‘mobbed’ in Kalapata by Ik and Dodoth people. Requests for rides, requests for this, requests for that… all loud, aggressive and ‘in your face’. Mark was at one of the car windows, trying to be heard above the others. He was going on about being sick, not getting treatment, and needing help. He was sputtering in Amber’s face about having tuberculosis or something. “Everyone needs help here”, I probably thought, “So how am I going to help just you?” As I pulled away, I remember Mark calling out something about him naming his son after me, implying that because of that I should help him. Nice try, I thought.


Fast forward a few days. I’m working in our yard in Timu. A Dodoth man who speaks Ik tells me in Swahili that he found a man lying alone in the forest. He says the man is very sick and is coming to see us. “He should have gone to the hospital in Kaabong instead of risking his life to walk to us”, I thought. I was annoyed. Why do people put so much on us? Why does a dying man seek us for help in the middle of nowhere? “I’m not a doctor”, I said. “Let me get my wife”.


Mark was skin and bones. His body was ravaged by an unknown disease, and we didn’t have the means to diagnose or cure him. We called his relatives in the next village to come get him. We gave him something to eat and drink. The next day we arranged for a humanitarian agency to pick him up on their way back to Kaabong.


Yesterday I found out that Mark died three days later. No one knows what killed him. The hospital either doesn’t know or won’t tell. As for me and Amber, we have our first major regret of our time here. We regret not reading the signs better. Mark was knocking on death’s door the last time we saw him. We regret not treating him better, not treating him like a wounded king. We regret not praying for him and praying with him. I particularly regret not talking with him about his soul’s destiny.


There’s no use beating ourselves up over this. What we can do is let the regret sink in, in hope that next time we will be more prepared.


May Mark rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

Terril & Amber, I'm so terribly sorry. Be patient with yourselves. Be at peace with your calling, (Eph 1:18-19,2:10) pray often, give thanks in all circumstances, and find a measure of joy each day. (1 Thess 5:16-17) Continue to maintain appropriate boundaries that you may love and serve most effectively. Finally, reflect upon the words of Christ. (Luke 12:22-31) Don't be anxious, about your life or what you can't control. Trust God and pursue His gracious Kingdom. Your brother in Christ > Larry

velma said...

It reminds me sadly of the time I refused to take a picture of a baby of our neighbor because i had asked her to let know before coming so i could be sure i had a film in the camera. i heard wailing a few days later and it was her baby that had died. i too, felt regret.

Jennie said...

i feel your regret - thanks for sharing and reminding me of this awful and glorious Truth - He lives in the least of these! love & miss you!

The Reeds said...

I'm so sorry. We will surely "be sad with you" tonight since we read this.Thanks for sharing though-it's a valuable reminder...