Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HOSPICIO SAN JOSE

Patricia and myself had the chance to visit Hospicio San Jose just outside of Antiqua in Guatemala on Monday. We were taken their by a missionary friend of Pat's named Cathy who has been volunteering there for sometime. It is a part of the St. Joseph's Hospice Association, which was created by Father Fancis O'Leary. It was created with the purpose of helping the terminally ill patients pass away with dignity. Because of the miracle of AIDS drugs, many are living and are able to turn around in their lives -- so this particular location has become somewhat of a respite center. There are 14 Adults presently at the center.

Additionally, they are housing nearly 68 Orphan Children who are all living with HIV. They live at San Jose Hospice and attend normal school and then come back to this place.

We had a chance to meet the director and to get the background on the place and how they came to be. After our time with the director, we were given a chance to actually speak with the patients. We were unable to take any photos and so I don't have any pictures for you -- but perhaps I can paint a visual picture for you.

We spoke to the Adults first. They were positioned in chairs and hospital gurneys -- right in the hallway and were watching television. I was to speak to them and Cathy was going to interpret in Spanish for me -- and Pat, happend to quite naturally move right into the nursery and start to quiet the crying babies (she was amazing -- they were cooing in no time!)

It was such a gift to speak to this group and to share how God had given me hope beyond my diagnosis with what He promised in his word and how my faith in Jesus Christ has actually released healing power in and through my life. I spoke from Psalm 139 which speaks about how intimately God knows each and every one of us -- and how even though we feel left alone sometimes and overlooked -- "He knows every thought before it even comes to be in each and every one of us..." that "he formed us in our mothers' womb........" We can find comfort in His love and care.

We had a time of question and answer and then I closed with the song Healing Rain. In the middle of the song, the guy in a hospital gurney, who had just had surgery, had a very large scar on his knee and was literally skin and bones -- lifted his hands and started to give praise God. To see this man in such pain and through that lift praise to God was almost too much for me as I thought I would not be able to keep singing.


The lyrics at that point in the song were:

So lift your head, let us return
to the mercy seat where time began
and in your eyes, I see the pain
come soak this dry heart in heaven's rain.

And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and make him stand
so lift your hands, that can be held
by someone greater, the great I AM

Healing Rain is coming down, Healing Rain is coming down
Don't be afraid....don't be afraid

Healing Rain is coming down, Healing Rain is coming down
I'm not afraid.....I'm not afraid.........

Afterwards we had a chance to pray for all of them and it was a powerful time as some of them wept from their hearts in gratitude towards God -- I can't explain how wonderful this seemed.... to be in a hallway in a hospice and see the Lord touch these people who feel so overlooked at times. What a gift.

We were then taken in to the main cafeteria and we helped set up the film equipment for Cathy to show a movie to the kids after their meal. It was a Jesus film and then afterwards I had a chance to address the kids. There were about 40 of the kids who were over 12 through age 16, which we felt was an appropriate age. I had a chance to tell a bit of my story to them and also shared about how much God loved them and that He would be there strength in the midst of stigma or teasing that might happen at school or when they leave the safe confines of the Hospice into the world where stigma against HIV/AIDS still exists.

San Jose Hospice is a great place for people to visit and even volunteer if they go to Guatemala. If you would like any further information you can write to hospiciosanjose@hotmail.com. The Director of the program is Elena Cavijo and her administrator is Patricia Santis. Patricia speaks english.

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