From: Brant Hanson (Who is currently in Afghanistan)
From Kabul: Thinking About Little Flowers
I'm so excited! I can't breathe!
I wish the second sentence had to do with the first, but...no. I "can't breathe" because Kabul is dust. Dust, at high altitude, mixed with a heapin' helpin' of good ol' fashioned pollution, just like the kind grandma used to make when she set all the neighborhood tires on fire.
It's equally true, though, that I'm very excited. Rain can tamp down the particulate matter, and rain is a rare thing here... but it rained last night. And rain, in a place like this, can mean little flowers, almost instantly popping up in the ever-present brown-ness of things. And little flowers, growing in acres of tragic, land-mined dust, mean God is not through with this place yet.
And, my friends, He is not.
A little girl, maybe 10, is carried in by her mother to CURE's hospital here. She is burned from her chest down. Her abdomen, the insides of her arms, the insides of her legs. She is burned in this curious manner, because she hugged a heating stove, as tightly as she could. She wanted to die. It was the only way she could figure out of her life of abuse, and her upcoming marriage to another abuser.
It gets sadder: CURE's doctors knew what she did, because she's not the first they've seen with these burn patterns.
Women, more grown-up women, set themselves on fire here, trying to get out. Read about it yourself, sometime. It is hardly uncommon. They suffer in ways that American men or women simply cannot understand. I can't unpack all of this in a blog entry, and have only recently really begun to take it in, myself, but this is life here: It is, for a great deal of the population, for women and children, often worse than death. (CURE's hospital here, in the name of Jesus, not only gives women knowledge, it gives them hope, even training them to become doctors.)
Babies are hope, and babies are meaning, and women here often lose all three. In fact, the infant mortality rate is among the highest on the planet. What's more, doctors here tell me: the maternal mortality rate is also at the top. Moms give birth at home, have no heathcare, no medical advice, and no one with any knowledge helping them. Their babies so often die, and often, as they get back to work immediately -- literally, immediately -- after giving birth, so do they.
And dust returns to lifeless, colorless dust.
But, like I say, it rains here sometimes, and little flowers pop up, and, my friends, God has not left the building. Or stable, if you will. He knows about being born in dust. He knows about poor mothers, about their tears, and about turning mourning into dancing. He knows about little girls with horrific burn patterns. And His Kingdom is about setting things right.
Did I mention it rained here last night? This story ain't over.