Wounds of the body and soul

One of my favorite things to do is to go to the wards in the evenings and visit the patients and caregivers. Even though, working in Admissions I get to meet every patient admitted, I don’t have much interaction with them once they’ve had surgery.

When I walk onto the wards and greet them it brings my heart joy to see not only the physical difference, but the change in their countenance. The love, care and acceptance they receive tends to their physical needs as well as their emotional/spiritual needs. When I meet the patients in admissions I’m often a bit taken aback by the size of a tumor or distortion caused by a burn, etc. Some of the patients have very visible deformities. I’m reminded in these moments to look beneath the surface. The outside deformity is only the tip of the iceberg. It does not reveal the entirety of their wound. I find one does not have to look too deep to see the emotional pain beneath the surface. Emotional pain caused by constant ridicule, teasing and being outcast from the community because one does not look normal. This is a “wound of the soul”. These wounds are not so visible, but can be just as debilitating.

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When I look at these pictures it’s hard to believe this is the same girl. Elisabeth came to us very malnourished and was not strong enough for surgery. Our medical staff and dietitians monitored her closely. Slowly she began to gain weight and grow stronger. These pictures are before her surgery. I love them because it shows how the wounds of her soul received healing. The love and acceptance she experienced started to heal her heart long before we operated to remove the tumor. She received surgery on my birthday (7 February) and is doing very well!

 

Patients recovering on the ward
Happy smiles greet me every time I visit the wards!

Next week we start Women’s Health surgeries. These patients in particular endure significant “wounds of the soul”. Most of them have a condition called a vesicovaginal fistula, which is essentially it is a broken bladder. After a long labor an abnormal tract forms between the bladder and vagina. This means the woman is unable to hold urine, so she leaks urine continuously. Because of the bad smell and lack of cleanliness these women are abandoned by their husbands and ostracized from their communities. They live in poverty and isolation because they are no longer accepted.

The birth of a child should be joyful and bring happiness, but for these women it brings pain, sadness and shame. They are no longer wanted by their husbands and thus can no longer bear children.

 

Mercy Ships provides free surgery to fix their broken bladder. But the bladder is not the only thing repaired. Hearts are mended as these women are loved, accepted and given an opportunity to hear about an eternal love that will never turn them away or give up on them! Please pray for these women, not just for their physical wounds, but for their emotional and spiritual healing.

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This is a picture of our Women’s Health patients from last year when Mercy Ships was in Madagascar.

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