Whoever thought that a measly little sandfly would be the turning point in my life?
As a child in Africa, I loved, dreamed, grew into adulthood with the promise of tomorrow. Somehow, some way, I would go to the land I'd heard so much about and make my fortune there: America.
I would go to university to become a teacher. Then I could come back here, to northern Africa, to teach my people about the world or at least try to make their lives easier.
Or I could be a writer of books.
I was just a few days away from leaving to go to America when it happened. A little sandfly decided to land on my face. He bit me. It stung; in annoyance, I slapped my face, brushed the fly off. Didn't think too much about it; people got bit all the time without any problems.
A few days later, I knew something was wrong. I woke up; I was in terrible pain. When I looked down, I was shocked and horrified to find blood and pus drenching my pillow. I knew something bad was going on, so I went to hospital; I was immediately admitted, then rushed directly into the surgery room.
When I woke up later, I discovered I couldn't see. Panic set in; I started clawing at my face. Gentle, soothing hands, coupled with soft, reassuring tones, told me my face had been bandaged, and I couldn't see through bandages. I don't know what was going on, but it terrified me.
It must have been a few days after this when I woke up yet again. The bandages were still there. I couldn't understand why I needed bandages; all I did was get bitten by a measly little insect. It couldn't have been that bad.
Oh, but I was wrong. Very much so. The fly in question could cause people's flesh to rot and die if they were bitten; doctors had to take off the areas of bad skin.
They said my face was not the same: I was missing my nose, most of my cheeks, even my chin. And because I was missing my nose, I had to breathe with a tube in my neck. I was not myself. I had to digest the information that was being fed to me. They told me to prepare myself for what I was to see when I looked into a mirror; they said it was not going to be pretty.
They were right. I was a frightful creature. At the sight of my destroyed face, I started sobbing, crying out to God, asking Him why this had to happen.
I was afraid to think of the future: begging in the middle of the street for money or food, faceless, hopeless, never to be loved by others.
I was now a monster.
Just when I was ready to give up on all hope, I decided to go to America anyway, despite my face. Africa no longer held any promise for me; I had to get away. At least in America, I would have a better chance at getting my face repaired or at least into university to study for a career.
I still wanted to be a teacher: that dream burned brightly in my heart.
I was ready for America: it was everything I imagined it would be. Big. Bright. Noisy. Confusing. Full of opportunities for a severely disabled man like me.
America, however, was not ready for me. At the sight of my face, women fainted, men turned away in disgust, and children screamed or called me "Monster". It was horrible.
I sank into a deep depression. I wanted nothing more than to kill myself, so I wouldn't have to put up with the indignity of being facially disfigured any longer. That was when I saw the big, black Bible sitting on the table of the motel room I was staying at.
I picked it up, then began to read. I had always believed in God; however, I felt like He was speaking to me through the words written on the holy pages. All at once, all fear disappeared, and I fell to my knees, asking God to forgive me. I then asked Him into my heart.
My life hasn't been the same since.
And all because of one little sandfly. And one great big God.
*End of part one. To be continued.*