God has definitely been working in my heart in amazing ways over this past month. As you all know I had asked you to pray for a special little patient of mine named Abla. God used this little girl to touch my heart and show me another dimension of his love and how he uses all things to make his light shine to all people and all nations.
Little Abla: My evening shift started like any other shift; after getting report, I went around and assessed my patients, started doing vital signs, passing out meds, etc. As I stood at the bedside of one of my patients out of the corner of my eye I noticed this little girl come in and quickly huddle behind her mothers leg. As the translators explained to her and her mother different things about what they needed to do I watched her carefully. This little girl had a sheet draped over her head and looked downcast at the floor and stayed close to her mom. The translator then brought her and her mother over to the bathroom for her pre-operation shower. After getting handed all of the shower supplies the mother took the sheet off the little girls head. Under this sheet stood a skinny 8-year-old little girl with sad eyes and a downcast face. Around her lower jaw sat a rag that was wet, dirty, and malodorous. Once the sheet had been taken off of her head she quickly huddled closer to her mother and then off into the shower they went. A few minutes later the charge nurse approached me to tell me I would be getting a new admission, a little 8 year old girl who would be getting a mandiblectomy and tumor debulking in 2 days. Guess who?
Once the little girl had showered I showed her and her mother to their bed. I introduced myself and mom shyly introduced her and her daughter Abla to me. I soon found out that they had traveled many hours to get to the ship and spoke a dialect that most of our translators could not speak. So after talking with them for a bit I went off to see what the plan would be for the night. As I went about my business I glanced over at Abla to see how she was doing my heart instantly stung as I saw this little girl cuddled in a ball under blankets with her face turned away in embarrassment towards the wall. I took a deep breath and held my tears back…
How do I speak to this little girl? How do I let her know that she is loved? How do I reach out to her? I said prayer, then grabbed some goods, and started to work my magic. It is amazing to me how much you can say without words. Over the next 8 hours Abla and I colored together (she had NEVER colored before and didn’t even know how to hold a crayon/pencil), she listened to her heart with my stethoscope, she showed me the correct way to hold a baby doll (in this culture if you have a deformity you are demon possessed and an outcast, due to this Abla is rarely around other people especially babies). By the end of my shift her mother had fallen asleep and Abla waved me over because she needed to go to the bathroom so I picked her up and as we started walking towards the bathroom her little hand slipped into mine (another tear jerking moment). She trusted me and knew that she was loved.
The next evening I came back and was able to have another blessed shift with Abla and her mother. I used some of the skills taught by my beloved child life specialists and grabbed a little baby doll and showed Abla what the dressings would look like when she got out of surgery, I helped answer some of her moms questions and anxieties and did my best to pour love over them both. Later in the evening the pre op picture guys came in to get some photos. Since
Abla had come in she had not removed the rag from her bottom jaw except to eat and shower and even then she always made sure she was hidden. Well poor Abla had to take off her rag and have multiple pictures taken of her tumor. The tumor stuck out about 2 inches from her jaw was about 4 inches long and hit her upper jaw. AS soon as they finished taking their photos she quickly covered herself under the blankets and turned back towards the wall. My heart fell again thinking that everything that we had accomplished over the past 2 days had just been thrown into the water. But to my great surprise about 15 minutes later I saw this little hand pop out from under the blankets and her summon me over. Phew!
The next morning Abla went into surgery and was in and out in about 3 hours. The surgery went way better than the doctor had originally thought. He thought he was going to have to talk out her lower jaw and basically form her a new one but once he got in there he basically only had to cut out the tumor. Thank you for all of you who prayed for Abla during this time, the prayers were definitely felt.
I came onto shift just as she was getting back from surgery. Unlike in America when a patient comes back from surgery they still are pretty full of anesthesia so I gave her a few hours to wake up. After giving her some water, bread and pain meds and seeing that she was able to sit up and stay awake I said a prayer and then brought a mirror over to Abla so that she would see what she looked like. I was excited, nervous, and scared all at once. As Abla took the mirror in her hand and held it up to her face she stared at her face for about 3 seconds my thoughts ran imagining the joy she must be feeling seeing her new face for the first time BUT instead she quickly slammed the mirror down and looked away towards the wall. My heart sank, my stomach turned and my mind fizzled. ‘What is she thinking? Why is she upset? God comfort
her be with her.’ I gave her a few minutes and through a translator talked with mom and asked her to give Abla the mirror again when she thinks she is ready. About 5 minutes later Abla slowly picked up the mirror and stared at her mouth as if it wasn’t really hers. She then handed me the mirror and raised her hand to touch her jaw where the tumor once was. A single tear pooled in her eye and streamed down her face. I then grabbed her mom and then the tears starting pouring. Over the next few hours Abla would intermittently grab her mirror and then just touch her face and EVERY TIME my heart would melt.
Today at church we listened to the song “Shine Jesus Shine” and as I sang God popped a little picture of Abla in my mind. Everyday I ask myself how can I be a better disciple, friend, nurse, sister, daughter etc.? How can I be most effective for you God? How can I shine your light to those who are in darkness? How do I spread the good news to all those who have been unreached? And then I realized that that is exactly what Mercy Ships is doing. Abla will be WAY more effective and influential then I will ever be. Sending Abla back to her village and having all of those people that have treated her as if she was demon possessed and shunning her from their village, to see her come back with a bright and joyful smile speaks louder and clearer than any words ever would. Abla truly will shine Jesus’ light.
Mark 2: Jesus heals a paralytic " I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home".. "this amazed everyone and they praised God." Shine Jesus shine, fill this nation with grace and mercy!