Camping with the family

I was remembering a family camping trip today. The warming weather made me want to be outside. However, necessity had me scrubbing the bathroom walls and floors.

When I was growing up, my mother’s parents would often travel with us on vacations. It would never happen today but we crowded 4 adults and 3 boys into a Chevy Impala with all our “stuff”, drug a canvas topped camper and drove down the coast of Florida. My younger brother’s seat of choice was grandfather’s left knee, in the wind (did I mention there was NO air conditioner in the car?)

We went down the Gulf Coast camping at state parks. We then drove across the state to visit my uncle and aunt  who lived in Hollywood, Florida at the time. We then went up the Atlantic Coast camping in state parks. It was this trip that made me appreciate the water in Georgia. “Beach” water is not for me. It was loaded with the smell of sulfur and tasted awful! My grandfather, always taking an opportunity to teach us life lessons, told us to fill the jugs at night and leave it to stand open overnight and the odor would dissipate and it would taste “better”.  And you know what? He was right, it didn’t smell so bad and it was better. No where near good, but better.

We stopped on the southern end of the Okefenokee Swamp to camp at the Stephen C. Foster Park over night. We set up camp, got oriented to the park and while preparing dinner learned how “tamed” the wildlife had become. Deer and raccoons had no real fear of us as they approached our camp and begged food.  We did like most folks, ignored the rules and let them have tomato peels, cucumber peels, and such.

When night fell, my father, always the good son-in-law, put the one fan we had in the camper and aimed it at the end where my grandparents were to sleep. Being older my grandparents retired earlier than we did that night. My brothers and I were sharing a “pup tent” outside. When mother and dad headed to bed they re-aimed the fan so that as the night cooled it would not be blowing right on my grandparents.

A little while after that my grandfather jumped out of the bed and was slapping at something in the air and my grandmother soon followed suit. Not long after that my parents start slapping at something in the air as well.

It turned out that the fan had hemmed the mosquitos that had entered the camper during the day in the corner of the camper where my grandparents were sleeping. They could not fly against the force of the air produced by the fan. When dad removed that obstacle, they began to move, and there were HUNGRY!

They attached with a vengeance. I have never seen such activity and general chaos from my parents or grandparents. Even in many crisis situations they acted with thought, tact, and decisiveness. That night they just went wild and thrashed all over the place. After the fact — it was SO funny!! We still laugh about that night even though both of my grandparents and my mother are no longer with us.

And that event, brought back to mind with today’s warmer weather gave me pause to think.

For us it was painful, itchy the next day, for just a moment alarming, and after the fact funny. But for millions of people living in Africa and other areas in that part of the world — it would have caused their death.

In Africa, A Mosquito Bite Can Be A Death Sentence.

Malaria is a leading killer of children in Africa. It’s the reason why one in five African children never reaches their fifth birthday. In fact, 90 percent of the one million people who die from malaria each year live in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite those grim statistics, malaria is preventable, treatable—and beatable.

Malaria Infects Quietly. But Its Wake Is Catastrophic.

One bite from an infected mosquito can transmit a tiny parasite called Plasmodium into a person’s bloodstream. The onset of symptoms may take days or weeks, but the fever, chills, vomiting, and severe pain of full-blown malaria are debilitating. Without a complete course of the proper treatment—quickly—malaria can lead to anemia, convulsions, organ failure and death.

Easter, 2010(?)

My greatest fear is that something will harm my children. As a pastor I have had the task of seeking to minister God’s love and comfort to parents who have to deal with the death of a child from a car accident, disease, accident, and in some cases, an act of violence. As a Law Enforcement Chaplain, it has been my task to accompany patrol officers to the home of someone and break the news that their family member will not return home due to some catastrophic event — even suicide.

I cannot fathom the depth of despair they have a right to feel. And yet they live their lives, celebrate, are birthed, live, and die like we do — only with this reality as part of their world. And for most of them, hunger also stalks them and their children.

This is where you, me and Imagine No Malaria have an awesome opportunity. For the small price of $10, we can provide them the gift of a bed net that has been impregnated with insecticide. This net covers their sleeping space and can cover 4 people. This prevents them from being bitten in the night (when the mosquitos are out). This gives them a fighting change to not get malaria. The more nets in a village, the more mosquitos that are killed from the insecticide on the nets (they are attracted to the warm, moist, carbon dioxide in our breath and from our bodies). They try to get to them and wind up contacting the net and there getting a dose of poison.

I often eat at a local restaurant, The Redneck Gourmet. My frequent meal of choice for lunch is their grilled cheese sandwich and fried green tomatoes (a delicacy in the south). The cost of this meal is just over $9. So for the cost of my lunch, I can save lives. WOW!! What an opportunity!

I thank you for joining me on my journey of discovery about malaria and world hunger. I would like the opportunity to thank you for your generous contribution to these causes. As I shared at the outset of this blogging journey, one of my goals is creating awareness — and another is to generate funds to make a difference.

Will you take a moment and make a donation today?? For $10 you can actually know that you are saving lives. For one-quarter you can feed a child a meal that may be the difference between living one more day or not.

Donations can be safely sent to : Senoia UMC, Post Office Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276. These will be very carefully handled by our financial team and then forwarded to the appropriate ministry. Please make sure to designate to which ministry you want your money applied.

Will you save a life? Two? More? It doesn’t take huge sums of money from each of us. Just each of doing our part and together we CAN change the world. We can eradicate malaria in Africa like we have done in the US. We can solve the hunger problem around the world — one-quarter at a time. Buddy, can you spare a quarter? Can you spare $10??

Until next time…..The Hog Father



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