The season of lasts has come upon us, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it all. I know that I will miss this place with all my heart, but I know that for now it is time to live in the moment. I need to live in the moment, to treasure the now. Because life is here and now and I don't want to miss it.
On Thursday, we had our last General surgery.
On Friday we had our last general surgery rounds, and discharged all of those patients home. (You would think that means my job is done, but it's not, I still get to play with all the other not-yet-discharged patients that remain on my ward.)
On Thursday, we had our last bed meeting - the time when we decide where admissions will go. There was some dressing up involved, because we could.
This weekend was our last weekend with the hospital open.
And this Sunday we had our last ward church.... I'm not sure if I've talked about this before. Every Sunday, the hospital chaplains hold a small worship time with a speaker, and it's normally on A or B ward. All of the patients are invited, though not required to go (sometimes they are kinda surrounded in their beds though, if the service is happening in their area). This Sunday... instead of a speaker, the patients were invited to tell their stories. It started with two, told through 3-4 translators so as many as possible could understand. Then more and more tried to tell their stories. It was amazing, and heart wrenching, and beautiful. To see this joy, these transformations, that's why we're here.
Many spoke of searching for years for help. Problems that started as children, still affecting them as adults, and no one able to help. Being told they are cursed, being ostracized. One man went to almost every country in West Africa, searching for someone who could help... but no one could. Another took his son to every hospital in the Sierra Leone for a growth on his eye, but they simply said he was cursed. The stories kept coming, and each spoke of how their prayers were answered by a ship that does free surgeries.
One man spoke of his son, born with a cleft, called a devil by his mother and grandmother. But a doctor gave the man hope, told him it was a medical problem, and she would find a surgeon who could fix it. And so the baby was taken to a children's home, and the father waited. When they could come here, finally, he sees the change in his baby. The lip is whole now, and the father wants more than anything to take his son home and show them that this is a human being.
Such a little thing. Such a simple surgery. And yet... it moves mountains.
Not all of our surgeries are simple. Not all have perfect outcomes. Many that spoke have gone through multiple surgeries. There are many that we are praying for. We pray that we will see a final, miraculous wound healing.
It is almost time to say goodbye, and it is when we expect the miracles. We had 24hours of prayer a week ago for the plastic surgery patients, and most wounds had a sudden decrease in size. Pray with us as we ask God for healing. Pray for wounds to stop leaking, for wounds to shrink and disappear. For infections to clear up, for patients to be ready (physically and emotionally) to go home. We have until Friday.