A Parent’s Perspective: God’s Heart for Us Revealed at the Infirmary

Submitted by Ginger Soumokil, Guest Writer

If you were to pick up someone’s camera and start looking at the photos they had taken without them there to explain who it was, where they were or what was going on, it would be a challenge to fully appreciate the experience the photographer had as they snapped the pictures. I feel that same difficulty when trying to explain what I experienced while on the recent mission trip to Jamaica with The Crossing.

In particular, I struggle to adequately explain the experience we had while visiting the infirmary.

My first impression was to feel incredibly overwhelmed. As I looked around, I immediately saw people defined by the physical or mental challenges they were facing: their blindness, their crippled bodies, their inability to get off the floor or out of bed, their inability to speak. One woman appeared to communicate only by banging a spoon on the floor to get your attention.

I then felt a rush to try and get to know each person, give them a “sweetie” (candy & nibs are not sweet enough for them), read a bit from the Bible, hold their hand for a moment, and then move on to the next person.

I met a woman named Carrie Ann, who has severe crippling deformities and beautiful, shining eyes. She didn’t speak, but screamed with joy when she saw us walking into her building to visit. She wore a constant smile, particularly when someone reached down and touched her.

Daisy Mae King is another one I hope I won’t forget. She told us her name over and over again, spelling it for us and then saying, “Go home and put that in your journal and pray for me, I’m Daisy Mae King. I love the Lord, pray for me.” She sat with all the dignity of a queen as she commanded us to pray, and then she might break out into a jazzy, Sinatra-type song.

Mary sat just inside her large, dormitory-like room, holding court in her corner of the building. Mary is bed-ridden, bent over completely at the waist, her face literally inches from her feet. I don’t know what medical condition caused her to be always in this position, but I did learn that Mary loves to sew, and would love to have better sewing scissors, thread, cloth and needles.

Mabel is blind, but sits straight up in bed for hours, just waiting for a visit. The first time I spoke with her, there were several of us around; she took each of our hands in turn and said, “You are a sister in the Lord, you are a sister in the Lord…and I am a sister in the Lord.”

Patricia is a vibrant woman with full physical ability, but who suffers from mental disabilities. She doesn’t walk so much as she joyfully skips from building to building. The first time I met her, she was taking my daughter, Marissa, by the hand and introducing her to all the residents. Sometimes the two of them stopped to dance. Patricia shared an abundance of love exuberantly with all the residents and visitors, constantly kissing their hands, shoulders, cheeks – whatever she could get her hands on.

Then I met Beatrice. When I got to her, I didn’t want to move on. By the time I got to know this lovely woman of God, I wanted to adopt her, bring her home with me. Beatrice had suffered a stroke and had severe arthritis, so she could not even sit up, but laid flat in bed all day. Often she lay in her own mess, unable to get to the bathroom without others to help her or even a bedpan to use, and she needed help from the other residents to eat each meal.

Beatrice’s husband had passed on and they had no children. Though she helped her sister raise her ten children, even assisting some of them with school and acquiring a car, she was now in the infirmary, seemingly forgotten by her family. But she was certain that God had not forgotten her, and she hadn’t forgotten Him. I had the privilege to read chapters of the Bible to her which she requested. As I read to her, she smiled serenely and would sometimes finish my sentence; she had the verses memorized.

Beatrice lay there in pain, alone much of the time and helpless to care for herself in the most basic of ways, and yet as we got to know each other, it was she who was encouraging me in the Lord. She has hope in our unseen God and knows He is preparing a place for her in heaven. As we read John 14 together, I couldn’t keep from crying.

As I took in the reality of the infirmary, I thought, “Wow, God, this is how you saw me spiritually, before You first opened my eyes and started showing me Your grace, love and acceptance.” Through my time at the infirmary, God made it clear to me that this is still me in so many areas; I know I am blinded by my sin which cripples me, and I don’t even know in what areas I need someone else to care for me. We all have such a need of God and should be longing for heaven more, and yet this world can have such a way of distracting us from seeing us as we truly are, and seeing our true destiny. I thank God that He used the souls at the infirmary to open my eyes more to His great love for me, and my great need of Him.

John 17:20-23
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

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