"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." (John 15:16).
For those who don't know I just got back from my yearly mission trip to Jamaica. While this is the third year I have gone on the trip, this year seemed even more special and even better than the previous years.
Our group partners with a circuit of churches in the town of Buff Bay. It is up in the northeastern region of the country in the Blue Mountains. The town is far removed from the tourism that you would find in many of the resort cities you see on the coast of Jamaica. The scenery of the town is beautiful, but the poverty is evident everywhere you turn. Some of the houses look like shacks and others look like they are under construction (you don't have to pay taxes on a house if it is under construction in Jamaica).
Walking down the streets of Buff Bay
Our group goes to Jamaica to work with the children in the town. We hold sports camps and Bible schools during the day and hold Bible schools and church services at night. We have over 100 kids in our care during the day, and it's honestly just a matter of controlled chaos.
This year we added something to our agenda that we had never done before. We visited the local hospital to visit with patients and deliver some care packages with basic hygiene items. I knew that seeing the hospital would be a shock but I had really no idea what to expect. What I saw was life changing.
The hospital was made of five main wards: men's and women's surgical wards, men's and women's medical wards, and a pediatric ward. The wards were just hallways lined with beds. No privacy for the patients at all. We were able to talk and pray with every patient that was awake while we were there.
Patients were there for various medical conditions ranging from a 16-year-old boy who had been shot in the groin the previous night after he got in a fight over a girl at a club to an elderly woman in the hospital on dialysis for her diabetes. The patients greeted us warmly and seemed grateful to have visitors.
After we finished visiting the four main wards we were informed that we were going to be able to walk through the pediatric ward. I began to try to mentally prepare myself for what was on the other side of the doors.
The two women's wards. Surgical ward on the bottom and medical ward on the top.
Something you should know about me is that I am a very emotional person. I cry a lot. I wish this was an exaggeration, but ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you. So logically, I was assuming that I would completely break down when I set foot into the ward.
I have been having a hard time explaining it but as soon as I stepped into the pediatric ward I was filled with a sort of strength. A strength that I have never felt before.
We walked through the pediatric ward that was about a third of the regular wards. There were about nine kids in the ward ranging in age from newborn preemies to a boy that looked about 11 years old.
The smallest preemie looked about 3.5 pounds and was on a ventilator. There was a 4-year-old boy who was in the corner of the room crying. When he turned you could see his entire right arm was bandaged. The nurses told us his arm had been severely burned.
We walked out of the ward and most of the other people in the group were crying, but I somehow had still not shed a tear. In that moment, I felt the calling on my life stronger than I had ever felt it. Yes, I knew I felt called to be in the medical field but in this moment my heart seemed to be screaming at me, "you NEED to work with kids."
The strength and the calling I felt was unlike any other. My heart is heavy and longing to help the people on the beautiful island of Jamaica, and all over the world. I am being called, and I must go.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)