~from Gaborone, Botswana~ Today my family and I met Tiny, Leselo, and Eric.  They are all three great teachers on the subject of the global crisis of AIDS.  They are each living alone on brink of death in shadowed, cold and bare rooms of concrete.  The each taught us about the face of God and how it is hard and beautiful to look upon.  They taught us about gratitude as they talked about God’s blessings in the small offerings the nurses provide on their daily visits to their shacks.  They all greeted us from their pallets, and talked about their individual struggles.  They taught us that AIDS is the beginning of many problems.  It makes the body vulnerable to many other diseases.  Tiny has contracted cervical cancer and is trying to make arrangements for her children.  Eric has no one to help him from his family and so he struggles for food.  When you get sick enough so that you can’t work, you die of starvation.  We met their young relatives who stand outside the dump and wait for the trucks to come so they can be the first to ravage the trash.  They taught us a number like 60,000 orphans is just numbing, while meeting Leselo’s three boys who are soon going to be orphaned is horrific. They taught us that while we may be able to politicize the issues of AIDS in southern Africa and so distance ourselves from its harsh realities, it holds no political associations.   They taught us that it is impossible to describe the reality of AIDS in southern Africa and that no words will do Tiny, Leselo, or Eric justice about the pain of their lives or the beauty of their spirits. Before the girls would have their picture taken, they ran and hid the trash they had collected.The disease in Botswana seems to be a disease that loves poverty and those who are vulnerable.  One doctor said the strain of the disease in Southern Africa is more virulent and unrelenting than the one we know about in the states.  The Holy Cross Hospice is slowly working to build up its staff and meet the endless mountains of needs in numerous ways.  They have asked that the Center for Contemplative Justice and St. Augustine’s Chapel fund one nurse to provide palliative care and oversee volunteer nurses that come to help.  The cost associated with this would be $15,000 a year for two years, an amount we could raise in an evening.  Marcus believes that this is possible and has made a commitment to seeing it through.  Anna, Francis, and the other volunteers who have gone and stayed at the Hospice all would love for us to continue to support their work. I loved this day.  I loved being with the workers from the Hospice, with Levi, Caney and Moses, and with Tiny, Leselo, and Eric.  I loved it because hope is not dead as long as people are willing to keep working, and the only way that they are willing to keep working against the mountain of pain and problems is because of love.  So I felt love in waves all day.  I swore to each person I met that I would say their names at the St. Augustine’s altar each week and felt nothing but love for them.  I am even writing this email with love and tears in my eyes for the whole mess we call creation and how love keeps sorting through our vast wastelands until something blooms.  I know that some who read this will want to make a contribution to the $30,000 goal.  I know that some will be moved to want to go and volunteer.  I know that some will commit the Hospice to their daily prayers.  All of those gifts and those already given are received with much gratitude. In peace, becca