Tuesday, May 15, 2012

...I was sick, and ye visited me..."

Nothing had prepared me for our visit to the National Children's Hospital in Manila.

I will post these few pictures and attempt a few brief explanations, but this is a painful post and one that my mind tries to push away.

According to a private blog by an anonymous poster, "In this government-run hospital lie the sickest and poorest children from all corners of the Philippines.  Many of them are terminally ill and await a slow and often painful passing.  Many of them die due to the lack of medicine costing less than $20...   The drama and suffering in the NCH is beyond description.  Unimaginable is also the parents pain.  Many of them stay close to their children in the rooms, sleeping on plastic chairs night after night, on the floor or not at all, watching their children die before their eyes...

It is into this hospital that missionary Kelley Dibble goes every Tuesday.  She brings a gift of a couple of diapers and a small snack for the child or the parent.  She brings a touch, a smile, and a prayer.  And that is all she can do.

Care at the hospital is free, but parents must pay for the medicine.  And if no money is available, then no medicine is administered.

There aren't many pictures of this day because it almost felt disrespectful to take them.

I didn't take a picture of the man who angrily told me yes, I could pray for his tiny baby girl with the sweet smile who looked as if she would not last but a few more days with cancer.  He glared at me, and as I turned to leave I saw him bend to kiss her as the tears fell from his eyes onto her face.

I didn't take a picture of the young boy, perhaps in his early teens?, lying lethargically in a bed dying of dengue fever while his father sat in the white plastic chair and looked at us with desperate eyes as we prayed for his son's healing.  I didn't take a picture of my heart that broke as I realized that could be my own son lying there...who am I that God chose to allow me to live in America with enough money to pay for the best health care available for my son?  Who am I that I have knowledge of the healing power of the Savior?  Oh, God!  "To whom much has been given..."  I will answer at Judgment Day...

I didn't take a picture of the several grossly deformed children suffering from hydrocephalus--their heads so misshapen and huge it made me almost nauseated to look...the ones who could have a brand-new life with the medical procedures available to us, but who will have no life at all because they were born in the wrong circumstances.

I couldn't take a picture of the stifling, suffocating heat that rose in waves as we walked from ward to ward.

I couldn't take a picture of the smell of death that surrounded us regardless of the masks we wore.

I couldn't take a picture of the depth of the pain in the eyes of the children...and the parents...and the caregivers.

I am still processing the depth of the experience.

I'm finding it hard to blithely breeze back into my familiar surroundings and just chalk it up to an expansion of my world view.

I feel so helpless.  Is Matthew 25:35 my response?  A one-time pat and prayer?  What about tomorrow?  And next week?  What about those in America?  What does He require?

God help me...

The sick little girl may never play with the frisbee...
but her mom will try to create a soothing breeze to bring her
a small comfort...

Smiles.  Just because it's a relief to know that somebody cares.

Love and care has no language barrier.  Warm touches and tears are universal.

The room labels scream.

Each name represents a suffering child,
and a despairing parent.

Her mother's heart is so filled with pain. Not one, but two of her precious children--
in the same bed--tearing her heart in two. Prayer...our love...the Father's love...

The gift of a treat and a diaper or two.
How I wish we could package an effective treatment
in those pretty little bags...

From the outside in.
The world looks a lot different from the outside in.
We can walk away...back to our comfortable rooms...back to our privileged lives.

It's 2012.
And yet, communication between departments still fits in a blue plastic basket
that is transported back and forth between the departments
with a rope and pulley system.
The money is just not there to implement the available technology.
And you were complaining this morning about what...?

I understand the reasons for tracking the information.
But the numbers also angered me.
I wish there was a column for number of tears shed.
A column for number of hearts broken.
A column for number of agonized nights.
A column for ways to help.

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock


  1. While you were visiting there, I was seeing the same look in the eyes of parents at one of the best hospitals in our Nation - Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

    A young mother whose 3 yo had been shot needed so much support but she was scared to call her pastor because she hadn't been to church. Another couple never left the side of their 5 yo son who was a victim of a hit and run and would have to relearn everything if he survived- the father wept every night while we slept in the parent's waiting room. Another young mother had left other small children several hours away to care for her 2 month old who couldn't eat because the food went into her lungs. In the PICU room next to us,for over a week, I saw a young weeping mother sleep in two hard chairs never even going to the recliners in the adjoining parent's waiting room.

    We all were giving our children the best medicine has to offer but still having major life-ending complications. It was so scary and I'm so thankful for every call and prayer with Pastor and Pastor Terry.

    In the children's chapel one day I talked to a lady whose 14 yo daughter had Cystic Fibrosis. She knew that God would heal her daughter but couldn't understand why it hadn't happened yet. She had so much faith but like the rest of us parents she was so tired of the battle.

    All we can do as people is visit, all we can do as disciples is fast and pray,and all we can do as parents is ask, God is the one that does the healing. In the darkest of days, in the hardest struggles of battle, I still trust Him.

    1. Your concluding words are so true. I told Melani after the visit to NCH that evening, "I would love to give them ALL the money which they need, but..." I will never forget her reply. "Matthew 25 says, 'I was sick and you visited Me.' You do what you can."

      I tell the parents, "We pray, and have faith in God; then we trust Him for the rest." They are truly dark, dark days, but we know The Light. What on earth do people do who don't have a relationship with The Light? We are that Light and, as you said, "all we can do is visit" with the Light. Bless you for that!

    2. Wow! I was moved to tears reading what you both posted. Thank you for sharing this with us Sis Melanie and Tamara!!!

  2. Tamara...such a beautiful comment!

    I, too, have sat in those halls at Texas Children's with my own boy. And you are right--the pain, the despair, the exhaustion, the hope AND hopelessness is the same regardless of the place.

    All He asked of us in Matthew 25 was a visit. "I was sick and ye visited me..." That's all He asked. He didn't ask us to play God. He just asked us to love.

    I know you've had a hard few weeks...I'm so thankful you and Jacob are back and things are better...and I thank you for showing us again what trust under pressure looks like!

    Love you!

  3. {Let's try this again... :o)}

    *tears* Always my tears. For Jesus.

    Thank you for your love. I will never forget. God bless you for wanting to go with Annie and me.

    Today we finally distributed the last care "gift" package. Usually it's XL we need. Today... Oh, Melani. The newborns. *gulp* Sooo many teensy, tiny, fragile newborns. We were so overwhelmed by crib after crib of newborns...

    I'll be on Guam next Tuesday. Who will go pray for all my babies? For Jesus? For Alexa, whose body shakes and shudders when she bawls, but sleeping Mama can't hear her child. Alexa has no voice.

    But Jesus hears Alexa.

    Love y'all. Thanks for your prayers. I'll cherish the photos and will borrow them. Have a good Tuesday. Ours was.

  4. This morning I was complaining about .... yes. I did have some complaints.

    And now I sit here feeling ashamed. And I don't want to feel ashamed. And I do. And I ask forgiveness. And I hug my daughters with my whole heart, and I am thankful for such amazing young ladies. And I will add Kelly's name and her heart-wrenching ministry to our family prayer list book, and when I can't sleep again at 4:00 a.m., I'll pick up that book with a thankful heart and pray over the multitude of names written in it, one by one. And someday when I have to answer, I pray it's worth SOMEthing.

  5. Yes, our answer when we're asked, "Did you use every talent I gave you? Did you give your life away?" Will it be as Erma Bombeck wrote, "Yes, there's nothing still in my hands, my pockets, my bag. I'm as naked now as the day I was born."

    Thank you, Valarie, for your prayers. I appreciate them more than words can say.


  6. Dear Melani, I just spent an hour writing a comment to tell you how much this article meant to me, and how God brought me to it this morning, to speak to me in direct answer to what I have been praying. And somehow, when I tried to post it, there was an error, it is lost... But let me say....God forgive me for my trivial complaints!! We are so spoiled in America!

    I do not have the time, to try and go back through it all at this time, but I do want you to know, God used you to speak to me this morning! THANK YOU! He has used you before....I loved your lesson on the anointing oil. It ministered to me, more than I can say! I was searching for it on the POA website again, but can't find it. Is there anyway I can purchase it? (We are a new Home Missions work, and I would like to teach this in our church) I am also going through the "Praying The Tabernacle" via the POA pod-casts...what an awesome tool!! The POA website with the pod-casts, etc, is such a great ministry, and such an encouragement. Especially to a small HM work such as we are. I have also ordered "Eat This Book" and am anxiously awaiting it! Thank you for your ministry! Thank you for being a willing vessel!

    God bless!