I hadn’t been feeling well the past few days. Headaches, soreness, chills. I thought the soreness was due to shoveling, and the chills due to the sub-zero temperatures. Last night, it took a turn for the worse and I’ve been in bed almost non-stop with the stomach flu.

It’s funny what can bring to mind a memory. Dealing with this stomach flu reminded me of times when I was overseas doing missionary/ministry work. Why? Well, there were times I was sick. Really sick. I think most missionaries that go outside the United States have a personal story about being sick with some stomach issue. I don’t know how many times I have had conversations with fellow missionary/ministry workers about being sick with some stomach ailment. Occasionally, it turned into a bit of “can you top this”, which was always funny.

Being sick today reminds me of two nations: Belarus and Nigeria. In the summer of 1995 I spent over a month in Belarus. We were in the city of Grodno. One Sunday, the team I was with had a meal with a local group. Good food…we thought. That night, half the team got sick. (Food poisoning.) And those that weren’t sick were awakened due to comings and goings of team members “dealing” with the food poisoning in a variety of ways during the night. What made it even more fun was you were using a squatty as a toilet.

It’s been over fifteen years since that Belarus trip, but one of the vivid memories I have is dealing with food poisoning all night.

And then, Nigeria. I led a team to Cameroon and Nigeria during the summer of 2000. It was a hard trip when it came to health and diet. At some point, I contracted a virus that laid me up for a few days. At one point, I remember laying on the floor* in the fetal position because the pain from the stomach cramps was so intense.

*Why was I laying on the floor? Because I slept on the floor. I gave the beds to the team members. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well during that trip. One night I had to deal with grasshoppers that infiltrated the room I was sleeping in, and another night I had to scare away a “bush cat”, genet, that came in the room and was eating the team’s food.

The toilet I had to use? Not good. I’ll spare you the details.

I didn’t really recover until I got back to America. My weight was down to 120 pounds after the trip. I remember one person’s body language when they first saw me after I returned. Shock.

So as I recover in bed from the stomach flu, stream movies and tv shows from Netflix, and make multiple trips to the bathroom, I think back to my missionary days.

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