The Least of These
In the US we like to encourage each other to "get out of our comfort zone." I've learned this week that the best way to do that is to visit a country whose culture is not familiar with the term "comfort zone."
On Monday this week we visited first a special needs orphanage for adults, and then the special needs orphanage for kids. Dina and Jessica (professional hair stylists back in Texas) set up shop and began providing their services to all who wanted or needed it. This included many of the young teenage men who were severely disabled and wheel chair bound. When they were finished, it was apparent they all needed to be bathed because of the cut hair all over their necks and shoulders. My wife, Kim, and I were asked if we would mind assisting their care givers in this task. We were happy to. I figured that they probably just needed help lifting these twisted, fragile, and broken bodies. Yes, but they also needed their clothes removed. And diapers. Lifted into the tub, bathed by the caregiver, lifted to a table to be dried and diapered, and then carried to their bed.
I have struggled to write about this for days. First, I wasn't sure if I could find the words to describe how emotionally moved I was to help. Though we encounter different emotions and heartbreaking stories here every day, this was the most impactful to me so far. Secondly, I feared that when telling others of our work here, it would be seen as just calling attention to myself and my "good works." Please trust me when I tell you, that is not the case.
Back to the emotions. I'm not a guy that can quote Bible verses from memory on demand. But I kept thinking of the biblical practice of washing feet. And, I kept thinking of "the least of these." These young people are completely dependent on others for their every need. They can not speak. Their caregivers are heroes. Uncelebrated, but heroes still. The love and dedication they showed for these young men and the HARD work they provide minute to minute, hour to hour, and day by day is something not many of us could do.
So, was it awkward? Only briefly. But Jesus immediately filled me with his love and compassion for these young men, and their caregivers, to the point that I was just overflowing and honored to help. And then gently laid them in their bed to rest. Thank you Lord for the many blessings in my life. Thank you for the means to join this mission team in El Salvador. Thank you that I have always been healthy, and able bodied. And help me to always remember that not all in this world are so fortunate.