Saturday, June 27, 2015

There is beauty here.

The fan hums loudly above us and a constant breeze courses through the outpatient room.
Papers rustle with the invisible motion, but the work of holding and pinning them down is well worth the effort.
It's hot here, yet not as hot as it usually is during this time of year. Everyone says it's because God knew I was coming and wanted to give me a break, so He cooled it down. If that's the case, I owe many thanks to the Big Man.

The outpatient room

It's hard to write an update, or to tell you what I've seen and done.
It seems impossible to put into words the immeasurable joy and gut-wrenching heartache that I've found in this place.
It's hard to know what should or shouldn't be shared, what's private and what's not.
It's easier to write about the weather or the Bay of Bengal, because I don't know where to begin or what words to use for anything else.

I wrote a post after my first day, but I deleted it shortly after posting it for sensitivity's sake.
Not for my sensitivity, or for the people's here, but for yours.

Long story short, within ten minutes of the first day I blacked out. Like, "couldn't-see-a-thing-someone-catch-me-cause-I-think-I'm-going-down-where's-the-cold-water" type of blacking out.
The sights and smells of stage four ulcers, pussing and attracting flies, on limbs that were attached to kind, beautiful, smiling women was a dichotomy that my horribly jet lagged brain could not compute.

It's funny how quickly you adjust, no?
On day one I could hardly look at the ulcers and a few days later I was scrubbing in on a surgery where a man's ulcer debridement went all the way through his foot. He had partial feeling in his foot and was writhing on the table until he was given a local anesthetic about half way through.

A  few days after that, a mother brought her child in and gave the doctors quite a shock when they saw the girl's baseball-sized abscess growing on her jaw and neck. The mother refused to go anywhere but to this hospital. Though they are not equipped to handle the surgery, one of the doctors took the case, knowing the alternative of letting her leave could be deadly. He was able to open and drain the abscess successfully, but the cultures aren't back yet, and the painful process of healing is only in the beginning stages. Never have I heard a little girl scream like she does when they go in to check and change her dressing, and never do I want to again. While her bandages were being changed, I played for 20 minutes on the steps outside with her sister. We both pretended like we didn't hear the cries, and enjoyed the rousing games of peekaboo and lets-run-up-the-steps-8000-times.
Who needs toys when you have two dozen concrete stairs? Am I right?

I've been in on one HIV cesarean, in which I wore four gowns, surgical flip flops (not even joking), two "sterile" trash bags around my feet/legs, a mask, goggles, and gloves (a rare commodity around here)...all in a little operating room, with about 6 people, in 90+ degree weather.
I've seen more leper's ulcers than I can count, and scrubbed in on nine debridement surgeries, which kind of all ran together into one two and half hour, rolling surgery (same instruments, cleaned in boiling water between patients :) ).
I've seen a woman weep as she found out that she had leprosy, and another stare off in the distance blankly as she found out she had HIV.
I've seen fourteen-year-old mothers, and mothers who have no interest in their children.
I've seen herpes zoster and a handful of cases of vitiligo.
I've seen a six week old baby weighing only a little over 2 kilos,
and so, so much more.

But, let me tell you, those are just the medical things. If we only focused there, this would all look really grim.

I've also seen the hope of healing,
the stunning beauty of a toothless, old-lady smile,
the unmatched joy of simplicity,
the promise of redemption in every man and woman marked by the Hindu religion,
the laughter and happiness of dozens of children when the crazy-white-lady decides she wants to play with them,
and the Father heart of God for his orphaned sons and daughters, for all of us, really.

I've seen the patient steadfastness of friendship as two boys rotate to sit day in and day out by their friend's side as he lay in the hospital bed, and we all pray to God that he'll send a miracle.

I've breathed in the fresh breath of simplicity, of taking breaks, of grilling in the dirt near the beach, of eating with your hands at every meal, of bananas-lots and lots of bananas, of mangos (oh man, the mangos!!), of playing and visiting, of conversations that are worth their weight in gold, of helping to rework distorted mindsets, of falling asleep at 7:30, of genuine joy, and of actually having time to read.
                                       ^^ Isn't this how everyone grills? 


In between outpatients, Dr. Annie is teaching me Telugu & everyone thinks it's hilarious. We pieced together our scrap pages, ripped off the cover of a prescription pad, and made a nice book. If all goes well, it should hit stores in the Fall of 2015.

God is so good here,
and he's so good where you are too.

Sometimes you just have to look past the ulcers and you'll see the smiling face.
Sometimes you have to look past the hurt and suffering and you'll see Jesus in the midst of it all.
Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to seek out and find beauty, and sometimes it finds you, but it's always there...He's always there.

I pray that you'd be drawn to worship, no matter what the circumstances around you look like right now. It may be ugly, but he's there, and with him is a host of angels bringing an abundance of good, joy, and beauty.
Don't wait for your earthly eyes to see the beauty. Just worship in the midst of the ugliness, and your heavenly eyes will be opened to the things hidden. If leprosy can beget beauty, than so can anything you're up against, I promise.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it!!"
-John 1:5

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"
-1 Chronicles 16:34

1 comment:

  1. Praying for you Lauren. What an inspiring beautiful life you are honoring your Heavenly Father with.


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