Today a 40 year old patient, who became blind at 12 years of age, was brought to me. Her elderly mother accompanied her as she carefully navigated her way to sit beside me. Her wasted and thin arms and legs made her large abdomen appear even more prominent. My first impression was that she was pregnant, maybe close to delivery. She and her mother both denied a pregnancy, telling me that her abdomen had started to grow over three years ago. My concern grew as I heard an obvious heart murmur, perhaps due to anemia. Quiche missionary Jose Caniz, who is also a social worker, and I spoke urgently to her about the need to obtain adequate care. The best place she could get that care would be the public hospital, and we would visit her, as well as help her with medications and tests she might need. In fact, we offered to suspend seeing other patients and take her to the hospital, immediately, a trip of approximately 45 minutes.
The mother listened, along with the patient, and when she spoke, she told us that they did not have anyone who would help them, although the mother has two sons, brothers to the patient. The two sons, she said, never brought them food or money, never offered to help their sister, and in fact, never even visited. The two women were alone, fighting for survival. After we told them of the need to take the patient to the hospital, the mother told us she just didn't trust that the hospital would help her daughter. In fact, she feared her daughter would die in the hospital. It was just too difficult for her to agree to let her daughter go.
I responded, telling the mother and daughter that we would never force or push them. The decision must be theirs, but we would help them. I admitted that it was very possible that the daughter would die, even with hospital care, but she would surely die without it. I told her that more important than her physical care was her eternal destination, sharing with her an incredible Hope that we have in Jesus, Who comforts us in the face of great pain and disaster. They listened as I shared the Gospel message with them, and decided they would wait and see what would happen.
When they left, I sent the two Quiche missionaries to the store to purchase a wide variety of food to take to them. I asked them to make sure the mother and daughter know we will help them, unconditionally, and that the grace of God is free, but not cheap. It cannot be purchased, because none of us could pay the price. It is that priceless.