The hospital is closed and there is an eery silence as you walk down the hallway. The lights are turned off and giant piles of equipement sit waiting in tightly strapped islands in the middle of the wards. Halfway done packing for the sail, the wards have taken on a different look, a different feel. Where once we fit 40 to 50 people per ward, silence remains. Though my mind hears the echos of a thousand voices and conversations held here.
Friday we sent home the last 8 patients from D Ward. Some home, some to relatives to have follow up visits with a few volunteers that we've trained, a couple have moved on to a local hospital to continue their care. We are not perfect, we never have been. There is always a small group that still needs more care after we leave. So we find someone that we can trust, and set the patients up for the best possible care we can find.
Baby Joy that I told you about before, her wounds are still not done healing. She continues to need care. Keep her in your prayers. There are some options for her, but they will truly require God's hand to move and be present in the situation. For complete healing, and for the right doctors to step up and do what she most needs, and even a visa to get her to those doctors. But in the midst of it all, a mother's love is strong and fierce, protective and all-encompassing. This is one mother that will not give up on her daughter. She wants the very best for her, and I believe she will continue to fight for it, and to flood her daughter with that love that knows no prejudice.
As well, there is Esther. She arrived to the ship with tumours to the top and bottom of her jaw. They have been removed, but her mouth is needing more time to heal. So she will be in a local hospital until things close up better and she is ready to eat without help. Please pray for her healing as well.
Bittersweet endings. So many have gone home with new hope. Some are still in the healing process. And so, so many are loved. Loved by everyone who met them. How do you not fall in love with the "whiskered" (steristrips to upper lip) cleft lip kids? How do you not find love and joy in the patients that you dance with and laugh with and do charades with on a daily basis (even with translators, charades works really well to get points across)? Our hearts have been given away. We say goodbye with a combination of celebration and mourning. Celebration at the changes that have happened, the healing that has taken place. Mourning that we may never see them again, that we don't know the final outcomes. How did the village/family receive them? How well did they heal in the end? What does their future hold?
How great is it though, that we can say goodbye with love. Knowing that they are precious to someone, that they have been loved, can be loved! Was this our chance, did we actually manage to show them an inkling of the Saviour that guided each of us here? Have we been good stewards? Do we reflect his unconditional love unto them? I certainly hope so. That love of God that surpasses all understanding.
It is this that I hear the echos of in the empty hallways. The nurses that poured out love on the patients. The "hallelujah! Amen!" conversations with the three year old in the stairwell. The beat of the drums and the French/Ewe songs sung out at the tops of lungs. The laughter. The rhythmic shuffle to the tune of local songs as our VVF ladies dance down the hallways. The hum of a hospital built on hope and love. It may be silent now, but there will be new voices to drown out the echoes. There will be new languages heard on the wards. This goodbye is only the preparation for a new beginning.