Selection Day is about 32 hours away. My heart is excited to for Wednesday at 6:30am (Tuesday 10:30pm for my West Coast followers). That is when our first patient will walk through the gate and begin their registration. Followed by the next. Then the next. And so on until about 5:00pm. The number of people waiting to be seen can be anything from 400 to 4,000. We won’t know until we arrive and see the line of individuals who have refused to give up hope, who are patiently waiting to see if there life will be changed.
We will see people with goiters, children with disfigurements, burn victims, tumors, cataracts, and much, much more. As a patient escort for the day I will have the opportunity to look these people in the eye, people who have been told they are worthless and have no value, I will be able to look them in the eye and smile and say hello.
This will be a day of great difficulty. I can look at these photos, tragic as they are but will still be unprepared for what I will see. How can I prepare for the smell of hundreds of patients sitting in a room in the middle of African heat? How can I be ready to see a child with a severe cleft palate, to escort a child who can’t walk? How can I prepare to walk with a mother who’s son or daughter is suffering to breathe because of a tumor? And how can my heart prepare for the hopeful individuals we will not be able to help and must send away with a prayer and a broken heart?
I can only pray.
And I ask that you, in whatever capacity you are comfortable with, join me as myself and all the crew ready ourselves for this day. Pray with us, send good thoughts, or just think of us throughout your Tuesday and Wednesday. For wisdom for the doctors and surgeons as they assess, for a cool day so the patients aren’t standing in direct and hot sunlight all day, for organization as we move people through, for the hearts of the people who will be helped and that those we can’t will be comforted and know they are still valued and loved. For laughter and joy throughout the day and for all of us to look these people in the eye and see the beauty that is within them, not the outer pain they carry and the scars of shame.
And for us to remember there is great joy at the end of this day… the hospital will open on Monday and we will begin to transform lives: the lame will walk; the blind will see; the afflicted will be set free. And LOVE will spoken to the depths of their souls.
MERCY MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
(all photo credits go to the amazing and talented photographers in the communications department during the Guinea field service; deb bell, michelle murray, bright effowe, joann thibault)