Today's traditional greeting: thank you for the 23rd! The festive atmosphere builds. Markets are bustling. People are greeting. Bundles of food are moving from gardens to homes, or from one branch of the family to another. Clothes are being washed and ironed. We wandered around to all our neighbors and also branched further afield to friends, sitting, greeting, smiling, just affirming our connections. Christmas is nearly upon us.
So in the spirit of the special nature of this week, we've been giving gifts to our patients. Forgive me Amy and others, for not remembering a camera these last two days, as the malnourished and HIV-affected children, and those admitted with malaria and pneumonia, all received the stuffed animals, blankets, and toys that we have been saving up from your boxes for this Christmas season. Except for one 2-year-old who was terrified by his brown furry teddy bear (keeping in mind that most of these kids' only experience with something of that size and texture would be a large live rat, and they have no mental category for a stuffed toy) . . . the gifts were immensely popular. I looked back to see a mother stroking a toy Elmo against her cheek, and the caretakers could not keep their hands off the goodies. The ward is only about half full, and we have only one child left on nutritional rescue . . pretty amazing for the holiday. But the few who are there are quite ill, and I think it strengthens their parents' hearts to know that far-off strangers have made the effort to bless them. So in spite of snake bites, coma, appendicitis, and AIDS . . there was laughter today, and this is God's will.
For behold I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing
And her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.
(more from Isaiah 65)