Accompanying the Sick the SSV Way
One of my encounters while visiting the SSV Mission Ol-Moron was with John. I met John while he rested lying on a mattress in the shade of a small tree. John had been weak and sickly for some time and unable to lift his limbs. He was very thin and spent his day lying down day and night with his family trying to make him comfortable in the heat and cold of the changing Kenyan days of October. I accompanied Sr. Monica who visited every other day and brought food to help him regain his strength. She was not aware of his exact infirmity or illness causing the loss of muscle strength. Sr. Monica crouched down to speak with John in Swahili and to introduce her American friend at which point he smiled a very sweet smile to my "Hello". I wandered over to his mother sitting on the ground harvesting maize kernels from the cobs scattered around her to let Sr. Monica continue to speak quietly to John, wipe his brow, and bring him water to sip.
Yesterday, I received a WhatsApp message for Sr. Monica that John has been diagnosed with prostate cancer that has spread to many parts of his body. The doctors advised to give him palliative care at home. She continues to visit every other day and has organized the community to make repairs his small hut where he sleeps.
Sr. Monica related that John remembers me and, " he said to greet you very much." I told her I wish I was with her so that may sing to John and told her to kiss his hand for me. She promised she would.
I am profoundly touched by the great grace afforded Sr. Monica and the SSV Sisters to walk the last steps of life with this man; to enter with sensitivity and gentleness into this phase of this humble man's life, bringing comfort and small joys, human touch, Jesus. To be as a conduit of the Holy Spirit in these moments is at once an occasion of great humility and of joy. She closed the thread of her message with one important short sentence: "He has a desire to be Baptized and we will organize with Fr. for him."
God is always calling out for us. As Jesus said from the Cross, "I Thirst". St Theresa of Calcutta told us of Jesus' thirst for souls and here was John, turning to God to be welcomed into Christ's Mystical Body with all the energy he has left in his frail body and in the length of days God grants him in this life. Welcome John.