Day 5: Today was the first day for the teachers on our team to make home visits with the rest of us. We also joined up for the day with the newly arrived team from MPPC led by Katie Finlay. We divided into four teams and maneuvered through the rock and dirt roads to the tiny homes of the beneficiaries. As we visit with the beneficiaries, we listen to their stories and their concerns. Building trust through caring relationships is a critical component of the S.I.M. program, for it forms the basis for honest discourse and medical compliance.

Another critical trust-building aspect of the HIV program is the support group. When the women come into the program, they are assigned to a group of up to 8 women. They meet once a week at the local clinic and are overseen by Betty, the social worker or Makdes, an R.N. These women feel alone, outcast, and fearful when they discover they are HIV positive. When they are brought together with others struggling with the same disease and fears, they experience a great feeling of relief. One purpose of the support group is to create a community that is able to care for fellow members when one of them becomes ill. They contribute a small amount to a general fund for those times of special need. Every woman in the group holds a position: secretary, communications, leader, etc. Many of these women are learning to trust and share their hurts for the first time.

Linda and Mimi were asked to participate in three of the support groups. Makdes translated for them as Linda shared her testimony and Mimi gave a devotional on the Woman at the Well. They listened to the stories of these women--stories filled with tragedy, betrayal, destitution, abandonment, helplessness, and hopelessness. We shared the Good News of Jesus with them, teaching them about God's radical love for them, a love so unlike the love the world offers. It seemed like we could see God lifting their countenance right before our eyes.

Each day we drive quite a distance through the city from our house to the Bole office. Today we saw many clusters of goats on the sidewalks alongside the busy roadway with tin lean-tos behind them and cars and buses on the other side spewing out unbearable amounts of diesel smoke. With Easter weekend approaching, I was told the goat's days were numbered; it is customary to eat goat meat during this celebration of Christ's death and resurrection.

As fatigue sets in, we find team members taking cat naps in strange places and strange positions. Yet we are filled with wonder that God has given us this privilege to minister to these beautiful people. We are receiving so much more than we are giving.