Today I received a text message from an unfamiliar number with a Zimbabwean area code. It read, “Hey, been trying to reach you but your phone never goes through. Hope you are well.- Elton”. I started scratching my head, Elton? Who is Elton I thought? I know I am Miss Congeniality and as many people as I know I could not for the life of me remember who that was. When my curiosity got the better of me I decided to call and the minute he said hello I instantly remembered who I was talking to.
Last year I received an email from her Excellency Sophia Nyamudeza, UN Deputy Ambassador in the Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe about a young man Elton Sare who was suffering from severe hemophilia. The email read:
“His right knee is the size of a watermelon due to severe synovitis form repeated and untreated bleeding. Elton lives in poverty, in a brick home on the outskirts of Harare with his five siblings. His mother, Rosemary, owns and operates a small vegetable stand.. Elton’s father passed away two years ago. He will be visiting RUSH Hospital in March to have a critical surgery. Without treatment Elton will lose his leg or possibly his life. Even though he has never left his home in Harare, and is restricted to a wheelchair, Elton has courageously embarked upon this transatlantic trip by himself. His mother was unable to obtain a visa to travel to the US with him. If you know any Zimbabweans who would be able to visit him during his time in hospital please forward this email on to them.”
After reading this email I was so moved and really wanted to help. I immediately sent the email to all my friends and contacted the family that was hosting Elton while he was in the US. I was privileged to be at the airport the day Elton arrived from Zimbabwe. At that time I was not aware that this was the beginning of a friendship and a journey that would teach me so much about endurance and faith.
Elton is a soft spoken and small built young man. He didn’t say much when we met and responded to most questions with a smile and a simple yes or no. He went into hospital seven days after he had arrived in the US. He had a successful surgery and we were there to be with him when he got out of surgery. I had asked a friend from DePaul to come with me to the hospital and he invited members from his fraternity to come along. Elton was really delighted to be surrounded by so many people at his bedside, wishing him well and there just for him. We played games, shared stories and laughed.
Later my two friends from Zimbabwe arrived and it was laughs as we all conversed in Shona and reminisced on the former days of Zimbabwe.
From then on I would visit Elton between work and classes and eventually he left the hospital and returned to the host family’s home. We kept in touch through calls. What amazed me the most about Elton is that he was going through grueling treatment but every time I spoke to him he always had such a positive attitude. He never complained about pain although I know he was feeling it. He had found a way of finding the positive things that life has to offer. Elton spent 40days in the US and then returned to Zimbabwe.
Time and again he would send me a text to say hello and I would call him too at times. It is amazing how his life has changed. When he left the US a couple had given him a laptop because Elton has a passion for computers. He informed me that he had started a small business and was repairing computers. After about 8months of communication we had lost contact.
It was not until today that I spoke to him. He is still doing well and will this fall be completing his O’Levels which he had been unable to do for years due to his illness. The Hemophilia Society has been providing his medication and he is doing well. All this made me happy but what really touched me is what he said toward the end of our conversation. He asked me in Shona why I was sounding so low? My initial thought was to brush off the question and say I was just feeling tired but I decided to tell me I had been going through a series of challenges and was feeling cast down. He kindly said that at times hard things happen and rattle us up to remind us that we still need God. He told me to trust in God that whatever was bothering me would pass. Coming from anyone else I would have thought yeah but you don’t know what I am going through. But coming from a young man who has lived through some of the most difficult circumstances in life this really gave me a renewed sense of hope.
I was reminded today of the hope there is in life and that no one condition is permanent. I know now that it was no mistake that I met Elton last year and is it not amazing that I spoke to him today of all days when I need encouragement. We all have extended acts of kindness and I believe on the day you need help and encouragement your blessing will return right back to you from the place you sowed a seed of love.
Take each day as it comes and take time to reflect on the good times and good things in your life. It will make facing hardship that much easier!
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen.” – Unknown