The last patient of the day reached into my heart and ripped a whole. I didn’t understand a word she said but her face revealed the whole story. The wrinkles on her neck and the scars on her face revealed a 65 year old woman but her chart claimed she was only 31. She had walked two hours down from the mountain to see the doctor about the all-over body rash afflicting her for over a year. “You need to go to Matagalpa to see a dermatologist” (This is like telling someone living in Harrisonville to go to Kansas City). She looks down at the ground, explaining that she cannot go. She has three smalll children at home and no one to care for them. She has no money for the bus. Her husband left her. Her shirt was full of holes. Her skirt hand made of the thinnest cotton. To make a long story short, for a mere $15 dollars, we arrange for a village leader to escort her to Matagalpa. Even if she had the money for the bus, she wouldn’t know what to do when she got off the bus in Matagalpa because she has never been there.
Most of the day, Clayton has been holding babies. Over and over again, she falls in love and talks of taking these children home with her. One mother has a 2-month old, a 14-month old, a 3-year old, a 5-year old, a 7-year old. And again, a husband who ran off. We go to her house to help her carry the little one who is sick to the doctor. There we find them dressed in rags, one of them naked.
At lunch Josh and Sue take a walk to unwind. We have a strict rule that no one sees the doctor unless the local leader puts them on the list and gives them a number. But Josh comes back from lunch apologizing to me. “Carla, I know that I shouldn’t have done this but I brought back this man who is not on the list. I know I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t leave an old man crying in the middle of the road.” He walked two hours from the mountains where he lives alone. He looks about 120 years old and weighs about 85 pounds. He leans on a walking stick. Completely blind in one eye and limited vision in the other.
“I am so tired,” says Stephanie. “But it is the good kind of tired.” Our feelings of emotional exhaustion melt away as the village leaders gather to lavish thanksgiving and praise upon us as we depart the village for the week. They say, “We thank you and the church that sent you. We cannot thank you enough for the medicines.”