In Sickness and in Health

There are some definitives worth repeating. In traditional marriage vows the man and woman agree to stick together "for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health." I thought about that today, as I made my last performances at the hospital and at the Fenix Out Patient Center for Mentally Challenged adults. Somehow, we don't make the same vow when we profess our faith and enter into a covenant relationship with our God.

We want our life of faith to shower blessings, happiness, riches, health, and confident assurance we are favored by God. Anyone will tell you the "honeymoon" good times in marriage relationships are short lived – expect the unexpected, hardships to come, disappointments abound – but remember the vow – "till death do us part." It's a good thing God remembers His part of the relationship, when we forget ours.

The hospital corridor teemed with doctors, nurses, patients waiting to be seen, patients making their way to their next treatment or procedure, relatives watching, all wondering – what is a clown doing here? There were grins, but most were too consumed with the current problems, illness, and prognosis to crack a smile. A bleak reminder, seeing one of the vast differences between first and third worlds – the availability and quality of healthcare.

We walked to a small foray, where a group of young mothers were there waiting with their children. Two had to be escorted away from the bright red intrusion into their already confusing space out of fear. Not a good way to start the day. God makes up for it by providing delight in one tiny girl, enchanted with such a sight. She giggled, pointed, blew kisses, and with her mother's help wobbled over to me. While we waited for additional patients to be brought down we took pictures. Most of the children were not mobile and I would carefully (in the least possible threatening posture) stand behind them while they sat in their mother's lap. One girl would have nothing of it, vigorously shaking her head back and forth, teetering on the brink of an all out breakdown (we had already had two).

The children were young and sick – so their interest was not going to hold for long. I hurriedly grabbed the coloring book (that got a few grins) the three colored ropes (humm, this is curious) and finally the 'Change Bag' with the colored scarves that turn into one 30' long scarf! I was looking straight at the girl who was not interested at all in CARE EE. I told her this was my special 'smile' bag. So we all have to give a smile – a tiny grin came across her face. I went on to make faces, and grins, and smiles and turns and hoots all to get a grin. Finally, when I started pulling out the one long long scarf – SHE SMILED! And then she couldn't stop smiling! She came over, sat in my lap, wanted her picture, and kept on smiling and smiling, like I was her new best friend. Although my audience was small (in stature and in numbers) they enlarged my heart!

Ulla, had been calling various disability associations to arrange programs prior to my arrival. One of the last places she called was for mentally challenged adults. Most are post-trauma syndrome from the horrors they faced through the war times. Ulla spoke to her friend saying if there were not any young people, perhaps they would not be interested. The director pleaded for a visit saying 'we all need to feel young again'. And so after the hospital, we went to the town center and to the building housing the 'Fenix' program. We entered the delapitadated building unsure if we were in the right place. An older man came down the stairs (in the dark) and assured us we had the right place – follow him. 'Be careful' he emplored as we made our way through the pitch black hallways up the staircase to the second floor to our awaiting audience.

Nothing like a small space with 15 smoking adults to make a claustrophobic girl feel right at home! I made my way to the corner and prepared to woo them and wow them and woo wow I did. They laughed, had a good time and were amazed at it all. It was a fun way to end the week. We had just enough film left to take their pictures. When the last gentle gentleman rose from his seat and took his stand beside CARE EE – he wanted his picture planting a kiss on her cheek.

In sickness and in health
For better for worse
Wherever He leads I will go

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