Hope restored on 6/27/06
I'm a couple days late posting this. Forgive me. Tuesday June 27th we had the most incredible outreach we have ever had with the mobile clinic. I will post some of my thoughts about the afternoon, and I will hopefully be able to share experiences from some of the other members of our team soon.
We went to a Katrina trailer community in Baton Rouge which we had not been to before. Remember from my last post that the generator on the mobile clinic broke at our clinic last week. It was still in the shop because the correct parts had not yet arrived. After much prayer from our team, our driver was able to pick it up just in time to bring it straight to the park. When we arrived there were already people waiting for us under the trees. It took us a little while to get organized; we only had 10 volunteers (which includes myself).
Many more children at this park. The trailers are on a shell lot, we haven't had much rain lately, so there was thick dust everywhere. At least there is a grass lot next to it that the kids can play on. We were blessed to have great big oak trees to set up under. It was still very hot.
Then the people started to come through, and each had an incredible story. But what was awesome to watch was how they responded to us. Our main objective is not medical care; it is just to reflect the love of Jesus. And this team does this so well. But most of these people have not seen this kind of love. Many are very reserved, especially the men. But that day we were able to soften each of them at least a little, and several of them by alot.
Let me start with the most memorable one for me. This was a man in his 50's who was very "rough" looking and you could hear him wheezing from across the mobile unit. After the nurse had finished vital signs on him, I went in to see him. He said in a very loud voice, "Lady, all I need are some steroid pills so I can breath again and an inhaler if you got it, and I'll be out of your way." Obviously, his prior encounters with medical people had made him feel like he was a bother. So I told him I'd like to get to know him a little before I gave him medications. I started asking him about his medical problems and one of the questions I asked was if he had a nebulizer (breathing machine). This seemed to get him fired up. He said he lost his in the storm and had been given a prescription for one but had no money to buy it. Several others had promised to get him one, but he said, "I've been lost in the red tape and given up hope of getting one." I told him that we had one to give him before he left, and I went on with my next question. He became almost violent and said, "Don't talk like that. I know you can't give me one and I won't have my hopes raised again." I assured him that I was not lying, he would have it before he walked out.
I once again tried to move on. Three more times he interrupted me to ask if I was serious. Each time that he asked his voice became softer and more broken. Each time I reassured him. After the third time he started crying. I've never seen such a quick transformation in someone in the time of less than 5 minutes.
After his exam I walked him to the center of Ele and gave him the solution (medication) for the machine. He sat there and held it like fine china. I went to the storage area to get him a nebulizer and brought it to him. He just held it for a minute and then looked up at me and asked if he could open it. He very carefully broke the seal and dug through the papers to look at it. After a full minute of him rubbing it, he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said that this was better than the best thing he could think of in his life. He walked out like he was numb, then started thanking everyone he ran across from our team, showing them the machine.
One of the prayer partners asked to pray with him, and he said he definately wanted to but he didn't want to put the machine down, so he went to his trailer and picked it up. Then he came back to pray with Kevin and David. You could see hope restored in this man. All over a simple machine that cost about $70.
I often have asked myself how many patients do we need to see in a clinic to make this sacrifice of time, money, effort, sweat and tears worthwhile? How many patients to "justify" the cost of the gas, diesel, time to call and arrange for volunteers and all the many things that go into holding a mobile clinic? Today I am asking a different question. How do you put a price on giving hope back to someone who has been let down by the world more times than we can imagine? Jesus gave up His life to give us hope. And He only asks us one thing - to show the world what He has already done. Our sacrifice of a few hours and a few dollars is nothing in comparison.
I will post more to tell of other stories. Because this day we touched more than one in His name.