The Real Elder Price
The Real Elder Price, Part 3: Companionship
As it turned out, Elder Chirwa not only had chicken pox but malaria.
Elder Wigginton reported a few days later:
Elder Chirwa is on quarantine for his chicken pox and malaria, and we spent four lovely days and nights at the medical clinic. Our arrival there was interesting. Last Saturday morning, resting trying to recover from my sickness, Elder Chirwa stumbled to his bed. I asked how he was feeling. He said bad, so I asked him to take his temperature again. It was 40 C, or 104F. I called the doctor and we got him checked in. His fever rose to 104.5 before we got there, and I supported him up the six flights of stairs. He was immediately hospitalized and stuck with an IV to bring down the fever.
|Elder Chirwa with Pointe Noire family|
We spent ninety six hours together with him suffering a lot. I felt for him when they came in to inject him with a syrup looking substance in his leg . . . the needle being over two inches long. He squeezed my hand and curled in pain as they sent this medicine through his quad. It was a ten by ten room and I had a little cot to sleep on.
His recovery took several days, and the chicken pox left him with some scars. I sent him ointment for the scars and a book on suffering by Neal Maxwell: If Thou Endure It Well—a book he would come to value deeply as his mission continued.
Soon after, my family and I spent two months in England, participating in BYU's Semester Abroad program. Elder Chirwa's mother and sister lived near London. He had given me their phone numbers, referring to his mother as "Loveness." I thought was term of endearment, like "Beloved," and didn't realize it was her name until I met her.
|Elders Chirwa and Wigginton|
I embraced Loveness and Fiona (Elder Chirwa's sister) just before dinner on May 30, 2010. Loveness introduced herself as "Chiloba's mother," and asked me if her smile was like his. It was.
That evening, the students had prepared a musical fireside, which we all attended. Several sang solos, and others talked about their favorite hymns. One told a poignant story. She had had a mini-stroke, which had partially paralyzed her. Her family was out of town, so she was alone in this terrifying condition, thinking she might die and finding herself unable to speak or move. She was rushed to a hospital, and kept singing the words to "Abide with me, 'tis Eventide" in her mind. Though she couldn't form the words with her mouth, she kept singing them in her head.
|Margaret Young with Loveness Chirwa and Fiona|
Abide with me, 'tis eventide!
The day is past and gone;
The shadows of the evening fall;
The night is coming on!
Within my heart a welcome Guest,
Within my home abide.
Margaret Blair Young is the president of the Association for Mormon Letters and has published eight books—six novels and two short story collections. Three of the novels were co-authored with Darius Gray and give the history (documented) of Black Latter-day Saints. She and Gray made the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, which is currently under contract with the Documentary Channel and showing nationally. She has written six encyclopedia articles and other scholarly papers on Blacks in the western United States, and particularly Black Mormons. She teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.