On July 6, our Uganda team visited a convalescent center, where we not only visited a lot of older people, but a few younger ones as well. There were a few young residents there, simply because the extent of their physical problems didn’t allow them to function on their own, and they had nowhere else to go. One of those was a girl who I thought was named Annette; I was wrong – her name is Juliette. In my previous blog I said she was 17; she looks younger than that in the photo, but we were told she was 17. Anyway, she’s young. She was dropped off and left at the Catholic-owned convalescent center three years ago because she can’t walk. No other problems – no reason she can’t go to school, or have friends, or do lots of other normal life things – she just can’t walk, so she was dropped off.
It’s always good to be able to give Part Two of stories like this. Thanks to the generosity of a couple of people (I’ll protect their privacy), Juliette will soon be moved to a school which specializes in the care and education of people like her. Rather than lying on a dirty mattress on the floor all day, every day for the rest of her life, Juliette will receive more directed care and therapy, plus an education. After a few years, who knows? At any rate, this is a much better outcome than she would have faced had she continued living out her (likely short) life in the convalescent center.
Not that I’m bashing the convalescent center. They seemed like a nice, caring place – just not suited for people like Juliette. But again, she had no other options. Now with an opportunity for better care and an education, her future is looking a lot different than it did a month ago.
Juliette’s story is a glimpse into the way things work on a Loving One By One medical mission team. We were on a break of sorts that morning; we had a full afternoon planned, but we were taking the morning a little more slowly and decided to drop in at this convalescent center. It was LOBO’s first visit there, and we expected to just have nice, friendly encouraging visits with some old people and bring a few gifts, and then move on.
We didn’t expect to find Juliette, or the 2-3 other young girls who were living there because they had no other options. Running into Juliette and the other girls was a complete surprise. It turned into one of those surprises we couldn’t walk away from. There were many other times during that trip where we were surprised by other individuals, all these “Juliette’s” who seemed to stand out from the crowds for whatever reason, and who we felt the need to direct more care and attention toward. (They weren’t all actually named “Juliette,” that would be really confusing. I’m using a metaphor here. Stay with me).
Sometimes when you’re in the middle of doing an important thing, you may feel God’s direction to switch to a more urgent thing. That happened almost every day we were out working with the LOBO team. Sometimes he’ll bring you a Juliette (again, not necessarily named Juliette. Stay with me here). When that happens, it might be a good idea to stop doing what you’re doing, and see if you can do something for Juliette (or whatever the name will be).