I had the incredible privilege of joining Mission Youth to work in Haiti this past January. Together with 14 other missionaries, we loved and cared for babies in the Children’s Home with the Missionaries of Charity. We played with children awaiting adoption, built benches and tables for a near-by “tent city”, assisted the Sisters in their medication distribution clinic and visited hundreds of men, women and children who reside at their Home for the Dying. It was easy to see the face of Jesus in the children who reached up to be held and the joy on the faces of the kids in the tent city as we brought them benches and tables for their school was heart warming. The gratitude of the dying as we rubbed lotion on their backs and held their hands was evident. It seemed Jesus was everywhere.
Three times a week the Missionaries of Charity Sisters travel to a location in the heart of Port Au Prince where they clean and dress the wounds for multiple people.
As a registered nurse with years of experience in trauma care and intensive care nursing, I have witnessed significant human suffering. There aren’t words to describe the suffering I encountered in Haiti.
In the clinics we worked at, the conditions are primitive. We didn’t have access to cutting edge technology or multiple medicines to choose from. We used supplies that were mostly donated to the clinic. The patients weren’t medicated for pain before their dressing changes and their wounds often involved large areas of their arms and legs. Each wound is scrubbed, and redressed and the amount of pain the cleaning inflicted on the patients was at times extreme. As a nurse who is accustomed to bringing comfort to her patients, it was heart-wrenching to know that the only hope these people had for healing came through great suffering at the hands of the caregivers. Prayer became the strength that empowered us to work.
On one occasion, Fr Aaron Smith LC joined the team assembling to provide wound care. Each missionary knelt before those suffering and preceded to clean and bandage their wounds. As we were nearing the end of patients, an older gentleman presented his wounds to be cleaned and cared for. As Father and I dressed his wounds, he rolled up his sleeve to reveal dry and peeling skin all over his body, such as none of us had seen before. He was clearly dehydrated, malnourished and suffering greatly. Within moments three of us were opening up 20, one inch sized sample tubes of lotion and Fr Aaron was gently rubbing lotion over the man’s cracked and peeling skin trying to bring him comfort. Noticing that the man’s fingernails were long, dirty and jagged, Fr. proceeded to sit next to him and gently cut and file his fingernails. One by one as the other missionaries finished up, they began to gather around and witness the tender care being given by Fr. As the man got up to leave, Fr Aaron went to his backpack and emptied it of his power bars and gave them all to the man.
It was obvious to those of us there, for Fr Aaron, this suffering soul was Jesus and he had given him everything he had. For the missionaries watching, Fr Aaron was Jesus to us. To love Him is to become Him. Yes its true, I saw Jesus in Haiti.