As we walked into Mother Theresa's Home for the Dying, I was prepared for the scent. The one I associated with visiting both of my grandmothers in their final days. The one that still makes for an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Again I followed the lead of our team members who had cared for patients in this place on prior trips. I was surprised to find there was no smell, and no hesitation on my part.
Let me tell you what there was. A room full of women, (the men from our team were in the rooms with the men) young and old, probably 20-25 of them. This was the room with the sickest patients. There were a few i.v. bags hanging. There were several nurses.
At the sight of a bottle of lotion and willing hands, they motioned yes, and showed us the sore parts of their bodies that asked, and in some cases screamed, for a moment of relief. There was only one woman who didn't want to be touched and another who died before we made it to her side. Her body was gently carried out. The expected, handled with quiet ritual.
We had been encouraged to think of our time with the women in one of two ways, either as though we were serving Jesus, or as though we were Jesus, serving others. Ten seconds after I entered the room I found myself singing, "I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you. O my soul rejoice. Take joy my King, in what you hear. May it be a sweet, sweet song in your ear." I guess I had chosen to serve Him. Over and over again, arms, legs, hands, feet, stomach, back, chest. Our time was over much too soon. I vowed to make time to do this in my own community.
After lunch and a trip up to Lookout Point for a beautiful view of the city, we headed to the Children's Hospital.
This place was everything I anticipated, but wished it wasn't. Three rooms with 22 cribs each, most of them occupied. Five, maybe six staff members in with the babies. Older children running around a small playground. Few mothers. No fathers. Wet diapers. We couldn't change them fast enough. Babies too sick to even pick up, next to babies sitting up, arms outstretched, longing to be held. Cries that were easily soothed in our arms, and that began again with the first realization of physical separation.
One of the men in our group, Matt, had never before held a baby. Pierre was with us too, along with his cousin, John. Seeing these men so far out of their comfort zone, yet right at home, was a thing to be remembered. That was the bright moment in the afternoon. The rest of the realization of this place was pretty dark for me. From wondering where all of these babies' parents were, to the family right outside the gate asking us to take their baby because they had no way to feed him. In the marathon that was our trip to Haiti, the Children's Hospital is where I hit the wall. This was the point where I came to the end of what I could handle standing up. Where I came to the end of myself.
We were told it was time to go, and I couldn't get out fast enough. It was hard to breathe. Enter Kim, once again. This time I remember who it was, but not exactly what she said. Something about us both being mothers and knowing that sick babies are supposed to be with their mommies. These wages of sin just made me angry.
I wish I could have visited with the staff. I have lots of questions, but no answers. I ask for your fervent prayers for these precious children and for their families.
The following is a video of a song entitiled, Kings and Queens, by Audio Adrenaline. It has been making it's way through Facebook and some Haitian blogs. It came my way again today, and seemed appropriate for Day 7.
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.'
Matthew 25: 37-40
We will love the least of these.