No amount of preparation could adequately have equipped us for this morning’s experience. We began the morning in our usual fashion, after breakfast we had a devotional time. This morning led by the Cahill family. Then we received our instructions for the day.
Today was to begin with a visit to the pediatric ward of the country’s main hospital. Felipe, the missionary, coached us the best he could as he has done multiple times before with groups. Instructions like: Don’t go to the bathroom at the hospital, wear close toed shoes, if you get overwhelmed and can’t take it then go out into the hall, these kids have enough sadness, and they do not need to see you crying! We were to bring smiles, light into their darkness. Live out the verse read by Ethan in this mornings devotional, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22.
We piled into the back of the trucks with our back packs loaded down with hygiene kits, specially made coloring books designed by Kylie Burns, crayons, and of course BEANIE BABIES! The trip was somber at best as I tried to digest the morning’s directions, wondering what we were about to experience. Could it really be that bad?
We discovered right away as the trucks were parked and we walked to the hospital, why the closed toed shoes. This rule was more for the pedestrian walkway we crossed getting to the hospital. It was a hot spot for the homeless. It was often covered in human waste. We made it over the walkway, which wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Then we went through the large iron gates that separated the outside world from the hospital. The hospital building was in view and easy to see that it was far cry from our modern buildings… which was not really a surprise.
So far so good!
Once inside and near the pediatric unit, making sure everyone was with their family we broke into three groups. Each group had a translator and was to go from room to room visiting with the patients. The goal was to hear the stories of the patients and their parents. Give them our gifts and ask them if we could pray with them.
So far so good!
Then we actually entered into the hallways of the pediatric ward. The conditions were indescribable and seemingly hopeless. The appearance of the unkept older building we had seen as we walked up continued inside the halls of the hospital. The hospital did the best it could with the money it had. The beds and linens….it was like a scene from the 30’s or 40’s…old iron beds, and dated equipment. The patient rooms were large with the walls lined with beds leaving one large isle down the middle and barely enough room between the beds for a couple of people to stand.
Not so good.
We quickly discovered that many of the patients were miles/hours away from family. The parents who were able to be away from their homes and rest of their family for that long period of time came to be with their child. However, if they didn’t know anyone in Teguc to stay with, their only alternative was to sleep in the waiting room as they were not allowed to stay in the room with their child at night. There were no Ronald McDonald Houses or anything to help these parents. The hygiene kits now made sense and were definitely a hit with the parents.
Many patients had been there for 20 plus days without any real understanding of what was wrong with them or why they were still there waiting. We found out that some were waiting for a medical supply like a shunt or even something more basic. The supplies were sitting in a warehouse in the city, but the hospital was too poor to purchase them and the patient would have to wait until the money was available.
Not good at all.
Meet Hosae: He had been in the hospital for 8 months. He had been in a bus wreck. One leg was amputated and the other was in bad condition. The good leg had about a foot long large rectangular metal object running parallel to his calf with pens connecting the object to his leg. Hosae, we discovered, did not have a mother and his dad was an alcoholic. He did have a sister in the city who visited occasionally. However, we learned that Hosae was at great risk of being abandoned at the hospital. Apparently this happens with some of the children. When this happens they are left to be on their own.
Please pray for healing for Hosae and that if his sister does not take him in that he will have a loving Christian family who will help raise him and be able to help him deal with his special physical needs. That he will keep his incredible upbeat spirit.
Meet Kenia: She is twelve and was having severe headaches. They brought her to the hospital and before they were able to assess the situation, she went into a coma. Her mom and dad cannot afford the expensive test they want to do and are worried. Please pray for the day Kenia gives glory to God for the miraculous healing she received. And even now that she is holding her Beanie Baby and coloring in the coloring book we left in faith that her healing would come.
Not good to difficult.
It was overwhelming to see the conditions, the simple and complex medical situations that could be easily treated back home. The less than sterile environment we are used to alone was shocking, knowing though that they were doing the best they could with what they had. Like the sheet that was covering the door that was marked surgery.
It was all I could do to hold it together. As we prayed for a patient, I would pray along with my powerful prayers quietly in my spirit and let the tears flow hidden by my bowed head. However, the couple of times I prayed out loud over a patient with the translator, I felt weak and incapable to utter a word. Words stumbled out of my mouth feeling shallow and puny.
Once outside, while we waited for the teams to come together, I hung my head over the balcony and sobbed. As exhausted as I had been on previous days from the physical labor from digging and moving rocks, today, I was even more exhausted emotionally. It was a dark place, but somehow we did what we were commissioned to do. We brought smiles to the faces of the children and the parents. They loved the coloring books and the beanie babies and the hygiene kits. Everyone eagerly accepted our request to pray for them.
Difficult to better.
One mother took the hygiene kit and held it tight to her chest like a treasured possession. As we were leaving one of the rooms and met up with another team, a man stepped out of a room and began to cry uncontrollably. His baby had just died. The man had no friends or family there with him. Diego quickly went over putting his arm around him to console him. The hallway became still and quiet as we along with the hospital staff and other Hondurans all stopped while Diego prayed with him.
It was a dark place, but we did bring smiles. It did seem hopeless, but we brought them hope. I can’t keep the tears from flowing down my face even now as I type and remember. It was a sad place to be, but we cling to the hope that God loves everyone and He used us to love on those precious children and their parents. We have faith in the things we cannot see, that God desires every man, woman, boy and girl all over the word in every condition to know that they were each created in His image and He loves them so and somehow that message will get to them. We have faith that even though this all seems wrong, that one day God will make it all right.
The words from this mornings’ devotion ring in my ears. “The righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The king will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:37-40
As we rode home, I was stunned. I was stunned by what I saw and felt. I was stunned by the cavernous need for love in this world. I was stunned and humbled that God could use me in a simple act of prayer, giving of a gift or smile and hug to bring a blanket of love to warm the hearts of these precious children and their parents.
I pray that reading this stuns your heart. That it stuns your heart in such a way that provokes action, actions that produces love. And together we will each move from our stunned states of being to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. That by loving others we realize we love our Creator, our Jesus who loved us so much He died for us offering us the free gift of life.
Together we can blossom from the stunned state of being into a beautiful bouquet of faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love…. And in doing so we move from a state of being stunned to a spectacular state of being stunning!
Do what you can now where you are to love others, but pray about going on a foriegn mission trip.