Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
- TITLE: Translating Hope
By Jessica Jenkins
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I know you will be surprised to get an actual letter. I am only using pen and paper because technology is totally out of the question. Even my pen seems advanced here. I know I said I wouldn’t write but even this small connection with home is a lifeline. I don’t know how Tim and Melidy live this life every day. You are never quite clean, never quite confortable, never quite a part their world. It swirls around you and even as you take part in it you are outside of it.
This was to be my adventure vacation – medical missions: see the world, do some good, a vacation you can feel good about. I have seen a world I can not comprehend. I have done some good – a drop of good, but I am too overwhelmed with feelings to know what I feel. My life until now has been focused largely on myself – the trials of med school, the stress of residency, the feeling of pride in becoming a doctor. The weight of this world is heavier than anything I have known. The things I do will help this one and that one but the line of “ones” never ends. Even the ones I save now will go home to another disease, another accident, another drink of dirty water washing down insufficient food. Have I really saved anyone?
A man came in today with an aggressive brain tumor - so aggressive it had eaten his left eye and was making its way through his brain. It was as if his head caught the light just right you could see the light shining through the back of his skull.
“Can you help me?” he asked. “The medical post doctors can’t help but do you have something they don’t?” Hope shone in his remaining eye.
Years of training and my first thought was still, “You have a hole in your head, man, what do you expect from me?” Sighing, I pronounced the sentence that would extinguish his last hope: “Your condition is too advanced,” I began. He shrunk as the translation made it into his language. Then the last part of his question whispered in the back of my mind, “Do you have something they don’t?” Wasn’t that why I had come? A medical mission trip. Hope through medicine. I was the medical and Tim was the mission. But Tim wasn’t here. What did I have?
“There is no hope for your body,” I began, “but there can be hope for your soul.” From the foreign doctor, to the guide, to the local contact, the message of hope was translated from one language to another. The man nodded once and walked away.
I will never see him again and although Tim has promised to check on him, I doubt he will be found. I was his last chance – the doctor who could not save his life. All my pride in my training and the only thing that mattered was something I had known since childhood, something every Christian knows. Now I can only pray that one day in Heaven my eyes will meet his two whole eyes and we will both nod in understanding. The hope that matters most is eternal.
Note: This story is fiction but is based on a true story. These missionaries are fictional but the interaction with the man with the tumor actually happened to a non-medical missionary.
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