The least of these . . .

Christmas Day – I opened my heart to the destitute and dying.  I woke up at 4:50 in the morning and walked with another volunteer to the motherhouse for the experience of a Catholic mass.  I sat there, surrounded by foreigners and rituals.  It has all been so strange coming from Howrah where I have been living with the locals in a village, and where seeing a white person is a rare thing.  Even Mother Teresa’s feels like a tourist volunteer site.  I was assigned to Prem Dam – a place for the destitute and sick, right next to Kalighat, the home for the dying.  We washed laundry for over an hour, only stopping twice to see two bodies, wrapped up in white sheets, carried by on stretchers.  Soon I found myself in the women’s quarters, massaging gel into arthritic joints and rubbing coconut oil through their short hair.  There were perhaps 150 of them, most having vacated their beds, all sitting, waiting for lunch to be served.  Some were still bed-ridden, nothing but skin and bones, unable to move.  How could one even begin to know all their stories?  These women, all having been found somewhere on the streets, were a living mass of human woes.  It was almost like a form of hell – a picture of missing limbs, deranged minds, open wounds, excrement, burns, groanings, murmurings and unintelligible shoutings.  And then one lady caught my eye.  Sitting on a plastic chair, her body rocked violently and her legs and hands quivered continually.  Over two eye cavities were two, big, white pieces of gauze.  Where her nose used to be was nothing but skin covering cartilage and her lips were pulled back to reveal her teeth and an expression much like that of a skeleton.  “What happened to her?” I asked a volunteer walking by.  “Acid.  She probably had it thrown in her face.  It’s very common here.”  “You mean, if a girl does something to ‘disgrace’ her family?”  “Or if someone is just angry.”  I walked over to her and squatted down.  Taking her hand I spoke the little bit of broken Bengali I knew.  She responded, but there was only so much we could say.  I sat there, holding her hand, talking to her in English instead.  It didn’t matter that she couldn’t understand a word.  Suddenly, amidst her quivering, her stiff, burnt hands reached out and touched my hair.  She felt the braid and then stroked my head.  Tentatively, her fingers touched my cheek.  I took both of her hands and placed them on my face letting her fingers trace over eyes, eyebrows, a nose, and lips – all things she will never have again.    –   Rebecca Simpson, India

 

 

People cynically ask me “Why do you give to foreign missions?  There are people hurting in America.  You should help them first”.    “True” I say, “but if you haven’t seen the suffering in developing nations, you haven’t seen suffering.  There is no welfare, social security, food stamps, Medicare, etc. etc.”. 

 

Blessings to all of you today.  May the peace of Christ rest upon you, encourage you, build you up, strengthen, and cast new vision for the days ahead.  Miracles will be performed by your hands – not out of human force but by the divine grace and mercy of our Father.

 

Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

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