Nairobi has a lot to offer to Americans visiting their country. It has been molded for tourism for many many years now, and the Kenyans know how to make you feel welcome and cater to your needs, of course making sure that you drop those American Dollars along the way. But not all is fun and joy. Africa is called a ‘Dark’ continent not for their skin color, but for the poverty of the people and backwardness of the country. There is another reason for the darkness that you feel around you on a daily basis. It is the fact that Kenyans as well as most of Africa worship their dead ancestors and believe that every tree and stone is inhabited with these spirits. Of course these dead ancestor spirits are in reality demons as I have written about in What and Who Our Confessions Attract
On one trip into a village close to Mt. Kenya for a preaching mission, I was bitten by a mosquito. This bite unlike others swelled up and itched like crazy. I ended up sick with Malaria.
Malaria has a number of effects on the body. The parasite passes from the blood (where it enters via the bite of an infected mosquito) into the liver, where it reproduces and changes form. After a period of 1-4 weeks (usually – it can be longer) in the liver, the malaria parasite re-enters the blood and begins to infect red blood cells, undoing more reproduction inside the cells and then, in synchrony, bursting out once the cycle is complete. This process of reproduction and destroying red blood cells results in a build-up of toxins and debris in the blood; the resultant immune reaction produces side effects which are the common observable symptoms of malaria, such as fever, chills, nausea and aches. One particular type of malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, is also able to modify the surface of red blood cells it infects. It causes these cells to become “sticky”, so they lodge in the small blood vessels leading up to major organs. This build-up is called sequestration, and results in reduced blood flow and oxygen deprivation in the organs. When sequestration occurs in the blood vessels in the brain, the patient may experience impaired consciousness, psychological disruption, coma and even death – this manifestation is called “cerebral malaria”. If diagnosed and treated promptly, the malaria parasites in the blood can usually be killed rapidly and the patient will soon enjoy a complete recovery. With two forms of malaria, P. vivax and P. ovale, the parasite can remain dormant in the liver for months or even years, resulting in relapse of disease at a later date. To prevent this from occurring, patients with these types of malaria can sometimes take primaquine, a drug which kills the liver stages of the malaria parasite as well.
Malarial infections are characterized by paroxysms, or recurrent attacks, that develop in three stages, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The first stage of these attacks is the development of chills. Moderate to severe shaking chills may be accompanied by a headache, general ill feeling (malaise), fatigue, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Stage 2, fever, typically develops within an hour or two of initial symptoms and may cause hot and dry skin. As body temperature falls, stage 3, sweating, begins, causing feelings of extreme fatigue and weakness. These symptoms generally appear within ten to 6 days after the infectious mosquito bite and occur as a result of the bursting of infected red blood cells.
According to the NIAID, (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease) the presentation of symptoms of malaria may differ depending upon the parasite that caused the infection. Plasmodium falciparum malaria often develops suddenly and is associated with the most severe complications. People with P. falciparum malaria may feel miserable between attacks and may die without treatment. On the other hand, those with Plasmodium vivax malaria, a geographically widespread type of malaria that produces less severe symptoms but that can recur for up to 3 years, may feel fine in between attacks. Plasmodium malariae infections can produce typical malaria symptoms, but the virus may lie dormant in the blood for decades, and even those with no symptoms can spread the infection through blood donation or mosquito bites. Plasmodium ovale infections are very rare (occurring mainly in West Africa) and may cause relapses. Both P. vivax and P. ovale infections are characterized by attacks that recur regularly every two days, while P. malariae is associated with recurrences occurring every three days.
Infection with P. falciparum will most likely to lead to serious, potentially fatal complications. According to the Mayo Clinic, if left untreated, P. falciparum malaria can cause death within hours of infection. Hemolytic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow is unable to keep up with the pace of red blood cell destruction caused by the infection, may lead to fatigue, weakness, pale skin, rapid heart rate, enlargement of the spleen and shortness of breath, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Cerebral malaria may also occur if infected blood cells block the blood vessels to the brain. Cerebral malaria may lead to swelling of the brain and brain damage.
Other serious side effects of malaria include dehydration, liver or kidney failure and breathing problems caused by fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). The NIH notes that rupture of the spleen may lead to internal hemorrhage or bleeding, and spreading infection may also lead to meningitis, an inflammation of the meninges, or membranes, that surround the brain and spinal cord.
Malaria put flat on my back and I thought I was dying for sure. Africans say that there are three stages to malaria; 1-you feel like your dying, 2-you know that you are dying, 3-You want to die and just get it over with. I reached the last stage, but lived to type this post. LOl
I lived thanks to a Seventh Day Adventist Doctor who made the correct diagnosis and prescribed the right medication, quinine pills, and nursed me back to health. Of course I believe the prayers of the missionaries, my family and others played a big part in the healing process. I know that I do not want to go through that experience again.
I was teaching in the Nairobi Bible School one day to a group of male and female Kenyan students about Spiritual Warfare. I was describing that Paul taught us to have our loins girded with Truth. I made some comment about if we are not strong in our loins then we are not strong at all, trying to refer to ‘truth’. The whole class burst out laughing and snickering looking at one another. The interpreter told me that when that was translated into Swahili it came out more sexual than it sounds. You have to take the scripture saying “Let your words be few” seriously in a foreign country.
Habari was for ‘Hello’, Nzuri was the response for ‘Fine or good’, and ‘Kwaeri’ was for goodbye. ‘Asante’ was Thank You. ‘Karibu’ was Welcome. Water was ‘Madji’. ‘Hapana’ was for No. ‘Ndio’ was for Yes. ‘Chakula’ was for Food. I was not there long enough to remember very many Swahili words, I don’t even remember the word for toilet, but I do know that word in Chichewa!
I don’t remember the kids being sick or anything in Kenya. I know many times we left them with another missionary family when we traveled into the villages to preach. Especially N. because of the dangers of Malaria and other diseases. It seems that they had some good times with the other MKs as they were called. (Missionary Kids) They were called PKs in America. (Preachers Kids)
The wife sang in some of the services and helped with whatever needed to be done around the mission, but had her hands full with a new baby to care for and make sure it did not contact anything to endanger his health.
Then the superintendent asked me to go with him to Ethiopia to preach a headquarters church dedication. Ethiopia had closed its doors to missionaries because of civil war and being occupied by the Marxist military. Adventure….