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Birthday Boy Looks at Birthday Trajectory

Born in a little town or village, possibly behind the house on a plantain leaf, I have traveled far. Without pre or post natal care, God knows how I survived. Sometimes there was an outbreak of measles or other childhood killer diseases taking along scores of children at my age. Sometimes it was gingivitis or pink eye or cough that swept across town. Many parents lost their little ones left and right. Many times I had a stomach ache or a headache and felt so terribly hot. But God was good. At night and very early in the morning, I heard Anyan (this was how we called my mother) pray for all of us. Anna was her name but my eldest sister heard it as "Anyan" and we all followed suit. During those prayer times, my mother mentioned my name regularly and asked God to take care of me. On top of that, my mother will dig in her trunk for a pill. Who knew what medication it was and who cared for dosage? Then there was my father who had so much confidence in me. It was like he knew the future and was already assured that I would live on and what I would become. He was always ready and willing to give me his last as his part in getting me where some one (I think God) told him I was suppose to be. Wow!

Three types of medication were often kept by many parents including mine: one they called worm medicine that tasted good and the other they called headache medicine that had a kind of neutral taste and the very bitter medicine called malaria medicine. Anytime my mom diagnosed what was going on with me, she would open her trunk for a pill and tasted it to determine which one was right for me. If my brother and I took sick at the same time, Anyan would split the pill into two for the both of us. Celebrating yet another birthday today is a testament that those treatments worked!

At some point, help was sought from the medical practitioners available. There were two nurses in town. I am not sure if they were RNs, LPNs or CNAs but they treated all and every medical issue in the whole of Doodwicken. They took good care of us, many times on gratis. We called them doctors even up to this day. One was like the attending physician and the other like the doctor on call or specialist. Bigger cases got to him while the other treated the minor ones. The on call doctor was not always there. He was also in public office and traveled a lot for political activities and worked in the city sometimes.

Pills or kwii medication was not the only way. There were herbs and pepper to supplement or improvise. Pumping, finger in the throat, pepper in the nose and finger somewhere else were all treatment methods. Mothers know best when to apply which ones. And as we Christians agree, “ all things work together for good” for me to bw alive and well for yet another birthday.

I don’t remember celebrating my birthday or remembering the day during my formative years. When I grow old enough to remember and do some form of celebration, a war that benefited no one but hurt everyone was waged. As my mind’s eyes follow the trajectory of many September 23 occurrences as far back as I can remember, I stand in awe of God’s wonders. Some of those birthdays were spent on the rice farm oblivious to even the birthday boy. Others were spent with so much excitement, hope and expectation as I did everything I was required to do for a better tomorrow. Some were spent under curfew in Monrovia when it became eminent that Monrovia, the nation’s capital would fall to flesh eating rebels. Some were spent in the belly of the beast that became known as rebel controlled territory. Some were spent on refugee camps either as a new arrival or an old refugee who no longer qualified for relief rations. Truly, if even the United Nations and the host country forsake you, the Lord will pick you up. It was during those days that the part of the Lord's prayer "give us this day our daily bread" was written not just in our hearts but on our foreheads as well.

So looking back at my past birthdays which came in both bad times and good times, I want to give it for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ first and foremost for his grace. I am overwhelmed with love, gratefulness and joy that is almost unspeakable. The closest I can get in describing my innermost thoughts and feelings is to sum it up in four lines as an evangelist of the Bossou Free Pentecostal Church put it to us in Bossou, Guinea during his birthday celebration:

When I look back (and see what the Lord has brought me through), I thank Him.
When I look around (and see the friends and family who have been there for me) I praise Him
When I look up (and see heavens declaring His glory), I worship Him; and
When I look ahead (and remember his words “behold I come quickly), I expect Him.

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