Life is good.
Is this true? Is life good for everyone?
This is what has been running through my mind ever since we traveled to TaPhraya a few weeks ago.
TaPhraya is very poor town in Thailand near the border with Cambodia. This is where our newest Blessing Home is located as well as TMM missionaries Joshua and Jessica and their 3 daughters.
The church in TaPhraya is a daughter church from the Pattaya Church, Life Center. This means that the Pattaya Christians helped to plant, fund, and support this church. The pastor from Pattaya used to drive out to TaPhraya every week to preach, which is 5 hours each way.
A couple weeks ago, a group of women from Pattaya invited us to go with them to pray with some of the Christian seniors in TaPhraya. These are the seniors that are fed through the Blessing Home program in TaPhraya. They asked me to come and bring my medical supplies, as these people very limited access to healthcare. These women do this about every month, which 10 hours of driving in a day is a big commitment, but these women did not complain at all. So, we met them at the church at 5:00 AM, packed up a van with snacks and drove to TaPhraya.
Because I worked in Hospice, I am used to seeing people in pain, people’s bodies failing them, and the toll this takes on family members. But working in America, I was able to ensure that the patients were clean, pain free, overall comfortable, and well cared for, even if they were dying. Here, I saw people in pain, without medical supplies, and of course no one had the luxury of air conditioning, or much protection from the weather at all.
One couple we visited I cannot stop thinking about. We visited a man who takes care of his wife full time. She was hit by a truck and suffered a traumatic brain injury and is paralyzed, incontinent, and nonverbal. Although she has a hospital style bed, she had no mattress and was lying on a blanket on a piece of plywood. They lacked the most basic of medical supplies: clean disposable diapers and underpads. These are extremely absorbent and not meant for repetitive use. The husband had been trying to wash used underpads to reuse for his wife because he lacked the money to get new, clean ones. The husband appeared tired and worn down and my heart broke for him and his wife. Although I have seen all kinds of poverty and physical conditions in America, this one touched my heart like never before. I was amazed to see how she had no bed sores or infection! Her husband did a great job of shifting her weight and keeping her dry, which is a repetitive and tiresome job. I could tell that he was trying his best with the limited supplies he had, and with my friend translating for me, I was able to tell him that I could tell he really loved her because he was taking such good care of her. Along with snacks, we were able to leave some new adult diapers and underpads with them.
We also visited several people who were blind, some had skin conditions that were afflicting them, and all of them had dental problems. Although I was able to give things like hydrocortisone cream to those with itching skin, I knew there wasn’t much I could do as a nurse, and it made me feel powerless. I realized that the quality of life these people were experiencing was lower than the quality of life many Americans, including myself, would be willing to live.
Although these people were happy to receive snacks and vitamins, they clearly were happiest for the prayer and chance to speak with the Christians from Pattaya. While I was processing this experience, I turned to the Bible to give me peace and understanding, and found this:
2 Corinthians 5: 1-10
For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God himself and not by human hands. How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes. For we shall not be merely spirits without bodies. These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. This is what God has prepared for us, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
Now we look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies, realizing that every moment we spend in these earthly bodies is time spent away from our eternal home in heaven with Jesus. We know these things are true by believing, not by seeing. And we are not afraid but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So our aim is to please him always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body and with him in heaven. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged and have our lives laid bare—before him. Each of us will receive whatever he deserves for the good or bad things he has done in his earthly body.
It is very difficult to witness these people and their way of life and not be able to just fix it. But it helps to remind me of what a blessing we can be with to others with our presence and prayers. Because all Christians need encouragement to remember how things in this life will fall away, how health will inevitably fail, but our God is great and has prepared an eternal home for us in heaven with Jesus.
I have never learned how to keep my eyes on heaven instead of the things around me. But I believe that these Christians were doing just that. I believe these Christians are waiting in joyful anticipation of joining Jesus in Heaven where there will be no tears, sorrow, or pain.