I remember hearing about HIV/AIDS when I was a little girl, and probably the biggest difference it made in my life then was that Magic Johnson made his announcement and wasn't going to continue playing for the LA Lakers. Even then it didn't change my life much. It was a distant disease, one that had very little effect on me.
But in East Africa it hit home. It became personal, because as I developed friendships with other Tanzanians it meant developing friendships with people who were living with HIV/AIDS. The crisis was no longer distant, it was very close to home, it was affecting people who had a place in my heart.
I remember visiting homes with Mama D. She had a ministry among those living with HIV/AIDS in her community. I remember walking into a small shack that housed a family of four to pray with a woman who was dying. I had never before encountered someone so close to death, and here I was, kneeling beside the bed of a woman my age who had withered away to nothing, death creeping at the foot of her bed. While I sat there with her husband and parents I was moved to tears as I noticed her lips moving. Although there weren't any sounds, I recognized her words as she praised God, who would heal her when death came. I stood there speechless. Mama D encouraged me to pray, I was an honored guest, I should bless this woman, but I could not catch my breath, and was utterly speechless.
I remember, when HIV/AIDS became personal. It was a season of life when a lot of things became personal. It was in that time when starvation became reality, where malnourishment was the norm, where myths about curing diseases caused diseases to spread. It was in that time that my heart started to become angry, and frustrated, and so disappointed with God and I began to ask "why?" It was then that I became comfortable asking God the hard questions, and also became comfortable with not hearing any answers. It was then that my faith became more real to me, and life, much more valuable.