Recently I was talking with a friend about just what the request for our health means.
Living in the States, it was common for our family to eat red meat at least 5 times in a week, if not more. We had a freezer packed with venison and beef. And, we had ample access to fresh vegetables and fruits.
When we moved to Mexico and were living in the city of San Cristobal, our red meat consumption dropped to 3-4 times a week. But, we also had access to the market, where fresh fruits and vegetables are pretty inexpensive.
Then we moved to the village. Our read meat consumption dropped considerably to a couple times a month. And our fruit and vegetable options dropped to bananas, apples (which are pretty expensive by local standards), and some local seasonal options. Currently, we have guavas dropping to the ground in our front “garden.” (Rex loves it, by the way!) Soon we'll have some oranges, but they're not a sweet orange. (Good for making orangeade...tastes a lot like lemonade.)
Now, some may say that limiting red meat consumption is good. But, the change in our diet has caused things like iron deficiency. (Levi has had a few bloody noses recently. I have experienced fatigue.)
When we make our shopping trip to the city, we try to stock up on vegetables that we can't always get, like spinach and celery. My kids devoured the celery in 2 days! (It was the huge pack from Sam's that I thought would last at least 4 days...and I had to fight to get my share!)
The other issue to our health is unsanitary food preparation, or contaminated water.
When we visit people, they are always hospitable, even if they don't have much to give. But hand washing isn't as common as it should be. And the water from the tap...well, we really don't know what all might be in there! The problem isn't that we are given tap water to drink. The problem is we are given dishes that have just been washed and are still wet with contaminated water.
These issues can cause things like giardia, salmonella, typhoid, parasites, etc. Many people in the village are carriers of these illnesses and don't even know it. Which means they are transmitting them to others...like us.
Along with that, people in our village don't believe that sicknesses are contagious. A friend told me one day that her son woke up early in the morning vomiting, but he was feeling better, so he went to school. Or, when they have fevers, they still go to school. They believe you get sick because the weather changed, or because the mist that rises from the cemetery blows over the town causing sicknesses. Another belief (according to one of the local witch doctors) is that you have a craving and if you eat what you crave, you will get better. (She has given this advice to a pregnant woman who was having contractions at 5 months and should have been on bed rest! Instead, the witch doctor told her she needed to travel an hour and a half to the city and eat seafood!)
So, when we ask for prayer for our health, pray that God protects us from all the yuck that surrounds us. Pray that God will strengthen our immune systems so we can fight off the common colds. Pray that we can maintain a healthy diet. But above all, pray that our lives will glorify our Savior!