"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29: 11

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Church with the patients at the HOPE Centre

This morning we biked to the HOPE centre for a Sunday church service. HOPE stands for Hospital OutPatient  Extension. This is where our patients wait to receive surgery or for those who need to stay on whilst they have follow up appointments and therapy. It's kind of like a guest house, on a larger scale.

The thing about the HOPE centre is that it lives up to its name. This morning, a little girl pulled faces at me as we clapped the rhythm for Malagasy hymn. The fingers on her right hand were deformed and twisted out of shape due to burn contractures. I know our plastics surgeon, Dr Tertius, is back onboard and in the next few weeks, that little girl will have her surgery and the start hand therapy to regain movement in her fingers, hand and wrist. I look forward to seeing her again as she starts healing, either onboard or at the HOPE Centre.

I held hands with the man next to me and his wife as we sang and swayed together. He had a large dressing on his neck. I have no idea which surgery he had onboard - his smile and that of his wife and child, said enough.

I looked around the tent and saw many babies with cleft lips and palates. I know the Max Facs team will be preparing to see them soon. How wonderful that we are here when they are babies. The adults with cleft lips and palate repairs have a hard life living with that easily repairable deformity. We have often wondered if they divide their life into before and after chapters, once they have their surgery.

Up on the balcony were the ladies from the OBF ( Obstetric Fistula ) clinic that opened this week. I have a special place in my heart for these ladies and their courage. Sometimes they have lived with decades of exclusion and isolation. To see them form their own support community as they heal together, is inspiring.

My boys asked why we go to the HOPE centre service. I told them that we go for the patients, to show them they are loved. We are here for the patients and it is easy to get caught up in work and forget why we are here. However, one morning at the HOPE centre is a reminder of why God called us here and what He is doing here through Mercy Ships. It is privilege to be part of that through trading smiles with a little girl, holding a grown mans hand as we sing together or visiting the OBF clinic and saying "Salama" to the courageous women there.