We spent the better part of the afternoon serving a small community that has spring up outside one of the camps; individuals who did not make it into the camp. Today was medical team day.
We are blessed with a remarkable young, Egyptian doctor. In 3.5 hours, we saw 76 people in need of care. Many of them have physical ailments that are a result of stress fatigue. Most here saw family members killed, fled their homes, walked days to this place. Some have been abused and all are filled with anxiety. There are 100,000 in the camp nearby; these are the ones that didn’t make it into the filled camp.
You may think it odd, but today was a dream come true for me. As a 4th grader, I went home from school one day and told my parents that I wanted to be a missionary nurse. Edie Schneider, a Lutheran missionary nurse serving in Africa, had visited my school and the slides she showed that day are still burned in my memory. I can still see the face of a little boy with a leg infected and festering …flies devouring the ooze. Today, my guess is there would be parents calling the school to complain about such a sight. Yet, it was precisely that sight that was the first call God placed on my heart and one of the biggest motivations for coming to this place.
My journey after that included time spent working in a hosptial and nursing home as an aide before attending college, initially, for nursing. Today, the tools I learned during those days were called upon as I took blood pressure measurements and other vitals before referring patients to the doctor. That African boy’s face has been burned in my heart all these years. Today, a new face joins it.
This little girl came to the clinic along with her mother and brother. They were part of the first wave that comes to clinic; the wave that checks to see if there really is a doctor and if there really is medicine to be dispensed. These people have been burned before. However, once the initial group comes through, word spread like fire that there really was medical help…and then the doors were swarmed!
Among those we served today, another young girl, part of the second wave whose cough I could hear across the crowd. As I took her vitals, the interpretator asked the protocol questions: Name, age, and reason for visit. She told him fevers and a cough. “How long?” I asked. “3 months” was her reply. And then the question I was hoping would get a negative response, “Is there blood when you cough?” “Yes.” Since the line ahead of her had grown, there came a moment when she headed for the door to leave. I asked the interpretor to encourage her to stay. She WAS seen today by the doctor. Later tonight, I’ll talk with the doctor about what I am sure is not a good prognosis. My heart will never be the same.
Whose face do we see when we look at someone in need? Whose face do we see when we look at our neighbor? Whether stranger or friend, I see God in their eyes. My greatest prayer is that others will see God in mine.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
These are the opening words to The Parable of the Lost Sheep. The parable has been part of a running theme over these past weeks. One day, hopefully soon, I’ll know why. For today, I know whose face I’ll see along the way.