by P.J. Prest
Lord - set our souls ablaze with the light of your love, that it may illuminate for us the path to righteousness, and be onto others a beacon of hope.
In the the heart of Philadelphia is the oldest hospital in the nation. Pennsylvania Hospital is a national treasure, and chief among its gems is the original operating theatre. It is at the top of the building, and as one climbs up the old staircase you can't help but feel a sense of majesty. The operating table could be confused with an altar - square and substantial, in the center of the room. The viewing pews are circular, expanding upward; at the top is the glass cupola, which allows for sunlight to enter as if a spotlight illuminating the patient and doctors.
In the outskirts of the Honduran village of Cuyamelito there is a small community center. Cinder blocks and a tin roof provide for shelter, yet a four foot gap - supported with iron bars - between the ceiling and the roof allow for natural light to enter. There is no sense of majesty, and there is no natural spotlight. Two tired light bulbs hang from the ceiling nearly useless, a crude reminder of where we presently serve.
When you rely on natural light you have to adapt; mission trips are very good at teaching adaptation. Today a storm came upon us in the middle of the afternoon. The sky darkened, and the rain was thunderous on the tin roof. We could barely hear each other, and the two lights proved as useless as we imagined. And of course this happened during the worst possible time - an uncontrolled diabetic had an abscess in his hand and was in the midst of having it surgically drained; another diabetic needed a large amount of intravenous fluids in order to control her dangerously high glucose; the pharmacy was desperately trying to dispense medications safely; children ran in for shelter, their youthful chatter adding to the chaos.
And yet the darkness did not ruin us. Headlights were produced. iPhone cameras appeared, and otoscopes were used liberally. And yet most brilliant of all was the inner radiance of our team members - their tireless work providing all the necessary illumination in order to bring our message of hope to the people of Honduras. And they shone! It was a privilege to be a part of and witness this team as we came together to serve those who desperately need it.
Today we treated nearly 130 patients. We are tired, and inspired...and we can't wait for tomorrow.