I’ve talked about them before, so excuse me taking this chance to reiterate that I work with the absolute best group of student council kids the world has ever seen. Compromising the Social Outreach Committee, they focus on providing opportunities for the student body to serve the community around them. In the past we’ve done activities like Support Staff Appreciation Day, Junior Unity Cup (a soccer tournament for underprivileged schools in the area), 30 Hour Famine, and Friendship Day, during which they invited in a school for people with special needs.
This year, they’ve thought up and put into action a beautiful new program. Leading two teams of twelve students, they visit a nearby hospital every other week. This hospital specifically caters to patients who don’t have a lot of money, and their goal is to bring love and a little bit of light into some really hard situations.
I was humbled by the conditions there. It’s actually a really good option for most of the people that were staying there, but made me appreciate the medical care that I receive in the States. There were no rooms, just beds separated by curtains. It was open air, with no heat or air conditioning. We met one women who had kidney stones and had been waiting five days to see a doctor. He had still not shown up.
Before we went, the SOC students invited a local pastor in to talk to the kids about how to best converse with people who are potentially facing their own death or the death of a loved one. The students were nervous going in, and I can’t blame them. Striking up a conversation with any stranger can be a bit awkward, but is even more so when you’re going into their space and into a hard situation!
As they got comfortable, though, they did such an unbelievable job loving on the patients there and the family members that were taking care of them. It was so beautiful to see these young kids being intentional about stepping out of their comfort zone to love on the people around them.
I floated between groups, doing my best to use my minimal bahasa and understand what was going on. I especially enjoyed laughing with a hilarious group of ladies that had met and formed a friendship while at the hospital. They guided us around to the beds of their different loved ones and said a whole lot of things that I didn’t understand.
What was most special for me, though, was to see my students genuinely enjoying the people to whom they were talking and the sympathy that they showed.
At the end of our time there, one of my leaders came back visibly shaken. Having just spent 30 minutes talking to a 5-year-old girl with cancer and her father, he shared about this girl’s beautiful little heart. She was in round 12 of 18 of chemotherapy. The doctors reasoned that she probably shouldn’t have made it this far, but hypothesized that she was still alive thanks to her strength and spirit. Her father shared that during chemo treatments, when she saw older patients crying, she would sing for them to try to provide some comfort. Even during her sickness, she was aware of her parents and how things may be affecting them. All of the doctors and nurses loved her, and her story really affected my student. They are hoping to overlap with her again in the future and show her some of the love that she shares with so many others.
One of my 7th grade students was walking down an aisle when he glimpsed a boy who had (what appeared to be) a birth defect. His head was 3 or 4 times the size it should’ve been. He had his curtain mostly closed, so we didn’t enter, but my student was so genuinely concerned for him, asking me whether the boy would be okay and if they would be able to help him. His deep care for the young patient really challenged me – it’s so easy to walk by people and not stop to think about what they may be going through. It was hard for me to answer and tell him that the boy could probably not be helped here.
One of the girls from my SOC team bounced from patient to patient, spreading cheer everywhere she went. She was so joyful and uninhibited in her conversation. No matter what a patient looked like or what kind of sickness they had, she had the ability to treat them in a completely natural way, asking both about how they were doing but also about who they were and about life. It was so encouraging to see people talking to her and smiling despite their situations.
At the end of our time at the hospital we were waiting, wondering where our final member was. They eventually found her, still chatting away with a group of women who had obviously come to love her. She came away knowing all about them, their situations, and even many of their philosophies on life!
These are just a few of the stories of the beautiful relationships that began to form and the lasting impact that was made on the students serving during our time in the hospital.
All in all, I was so blessed by seeing the way that these students jumped in and started loving on the people that we spent time with. It has encouraged me to be more willing to take the chance to talk to people and listen to what is going on in their lives, even when it might be awkward or hard to hear.
We’ll be taking a few weeks off for Christmas break, but I can’t wait for tem to go back and shine some more light!