Blogger Karen Riddell writes about our day. The photo was taken in the library of the deaf school.
This was the scripture painted above a multi-colored cross that greeted us as we entered the chapel at the school for the deaf children. This positive message of optimism inspired by faith radiated from the bright, smiling faces of the children and the teachers. They were happy to see us again. We reconnected with hugs over scrumptious donuts and coffee. We toured the school, learned about how it was founded and how it has grown, and we delivered greatly-appreciated supplies to the teachers. We got to know each other better, prayed for each other, and we sang to them: “May The Lord bless you and keep you,” off-key at points perhaps, but heartfelt from start to finish.
While there were many moments of connection today, without question one of the most special involved a 15 year-old boy named Ellison we had met the previous day during our time with the deaf school children at the farm. From the moment he got off the bus to the time the children left on Wednesday he blessed each person he encountered with a broad smile. Although he could not communicate with us very well, Ellison managed to convey infectious happiness. A teacher at some point confided to one of our leaders that Ellison has a very lengthy commute to school that, coupled with the cost of the monthly fees, has become too much of a financial burden for his family. As a group we decided to donate the money to fund the next year of Ellison’s education and transportation. Today, when he learned about the funding, he managed to beam even brighter. It was a beautiful example of God’s promise in Jeremiah of a plan for a future.
Next, we headed to the local hospital. It is hard to imagine a place like this unless you have experienced something similar. The only fledgling air conditioning is in the two intensive care wards–all of the other wards are open air and stifling hot, and all of the rooms are over-crowded with very sick patients patients and worried family members. We were told the daily ER receives 800 patients a day but only has plastic chairs for 250. We saw many broken chairs kept upright by rope tied to a pipe or neighboring chair.
Many patients are receiving chemo, many are experiencing long waits for test results, many are in pain from illness and injury and the conditions are far, far from anything we will ever encounter for our health needs. We visited bed by bed, learning about each patient, delivering fans, toiletries, crosses and prayers. We also visited the long term shelter across the way, where patients can live and receive treatment over long period of time. These patients cook over a fire in a fenced-in, dirt area. They sleep in a filthy, concrete room of cots. There are two outhouses for everyone there. In the hospital and in the shelter we shared God’s promise in Jeremiah for hope.
We ended our day at an evening worship service at one of the church’s we painted at the start of the week. It was so special to praise and sing together-joining our voices and our hearts–in thanksgiving and fellowship.
It is clear that The Lord has had a plan for our days here to be full of hope and goodness, and we are grateful.