Flori won the hearts of all who knew her. In her memory, we search for answers to preventable deaths from cervical cancer.
Another day of profound changes in my life! Not working today in my "real job" gave me the opportunity to talk with Flori this morning. I continue to be astounded by the fact that we can understand each other! I started going to Guatemala in 1998. I took Spanish in high school and college. But it wasn't until last year when I started taking a class from Deena Ellis and I started reprimanding myself for my failure to speak the language of a country that stirs my heart that I really started doing something about it! LIke everything else that you succeed in, you have to put in some effort! So there we were, over a bowl of oatmeal, talking about the incredible injustices regarding women around the world. Flori is totally amazed that I actually believe that my husband loves me so much that he would be faithful to me for all of my life! We chatted about injustice especially toward women and the reality that the majority of people in the world are clearly denied the basic rights. I could have been speaking with a world leader on these issues and I don't think they would have had as many insights into the reality of it all as much as Flori does.
So, after our little breakfast, filled with laughs (mostly about my Spanish!) and tears, off we went to the hospital.
At Flower Hospital, I encountered the absolute BEST of humanity. Flori was welcomed as if she was a queen! When the nurses looked at her "intake" data and realized that her birthday is this weekend, they bought her a birthday cake! Each medical person that will be involved in her care took the time to introduce themselves and make Flori feel as if she now has a new family. While we often criticize the American health care system, I cannot imagine that there is a place in the world as fine as what I witnessed today.Each person showed incredible excellence in what they do! Although Flori had to endure numerous pokes and prods, I know that she left feeling far better than she did before she went there! When she was told that her pain and bleeding would be better in a week or so, you could see the look of great relief.
The doctor who is the radiation oncologist was incredibly humble. Instead of being willing to accept thanks for what he is doing for Flori, he thanked me! He pointed out that a radiation oncologist is rarely needed in developing countries and he actually thanked me for bringing Flori here! What humility from a doctor who has been trained at the greatest institutions that the United States has to offer. His parents are Indian. I told him that my daughter-in-law is Indian and since I'm the grandma of her children, we share a common heritage! I told him how her father grew up poor in India, but worked so hard that he is now a nuclear engineer and has had the great fortune of being able to build a hospital and school for the poorest of the poor in India. I assume that while we go to different churches, we hear the same call to serve those who are in great need. Is that not what it's all about? Following the command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? The doctor talked about his grandfather who was so poor in India and yet, he managed to educate his 10 children with a college education and now the next generation have all been so successful in terms of making this a better world. I too, shared with him that my dad was from a village much like where Flori was from. But through my father's great faith in God and a determination to have a "better life" for his children, I too have been "privileged" to have enough to be in the life of someone as wonderful as Flori.
Flori quietly endured all the IV's, blood draws, pokes and prods and also listened as we all tried so hard to explain what might or might not happen. After all, this is the U.S. and we all feel that we have a right to know EVERYTHING! We also feel that if something has been left out and there is a problem, then we have a right to blame someone! But it was obvious that Flori just knew that all these people were acting through a mighty God who were doing all they could to spare her life and now it's up to Him.
While I know that given the stage of her cancer and the statistics, her "odds" are not good. But when I look at the incredible love and miracles that have already surrounded her, it's hard to imagine that she won't be cured. To me, it seems that God has put her here to be a voice for the women of Guatemala and on a deeper level, I believe that He put her here to be a voice for Him; to let us all know that it is indeed in giving that we receive and that in pardoning, we are pardoned.
On another note, Flori cried today as we ate lunch with my mom. She sobbed as she said that she never thought that in her life, she would be treated in the ways that my mom has treated her. For me, it was all very humbling.
I received a beautiful letter from our project coordinators in Guatemala, Ismael and his wife, Orphe. Never have I met 2 people with such incredible faith and willingness to truly serve the Lord in powerful ways. None of our efforts in Guatemala and certainly this story of Flori would never have been possible without them. Orphe told me that their church is meeting at 5AM each morning to implore God to protect Flori, to give wisdom and strength to all that are caring for her and to protect her family in Guatemala.
Orphe included a bible passage that I'd like to share:
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help and he will say: Her am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppresion,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lork will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame."
For any reading this, please feel free to comment!