Saturday, August 15, 2009

Musings of a missionary doctor in the land of Nagas - Part II

psalm 119:117
May Jesus hold us up that we may be safe and have regard for His statutes continually.

Little snippets from the mission diary :) just to keep my promise in the first mail,that i'd continue..

We wanted to get an early start ,so we packed 6 boiled eggs and few bananas for breakfast... the previous night we had called our man at the village to give information of our arrival, but the ever-failing mobile phone range ,failed us yet again!;)The walk to Waphr was 16 km one way. Our Sr. Sismy was with us, she too had walked... this kind of humility , really impressed the baptist pastor,he said that their clergy always travel by vehicle.He offered to transport us back when we were finished with our program,but of course-we chose to walk :) Due to lack of forewarning, the women had mostly all left for their fields. We still gave health education to the 8 or 9 women folk who had stayed behind in the village due to breastfeeding babies and other little ones. We had our packed breakfast with the tea they provided. After the class, the house which had hosted us , provided us with lunch. Our cook that day was a 19 year old girl with a 5 month old baby... I remember them clearly , because while i playfully used my steth on the baby, to my utter amazement , i heard a heart sound that indicated a hole in the heart!!! In college , our profs used to try and teach us this... so taking this lead i asked this girl if her baby used to get distressed while breast feeding, and frequent chest infections.. she confirmed the text book symptoms... so there, in that village, i made my first diagnosis of a probable VSD in a baby. :) I advised her of the baby's need for good medical care.3 days later , I met that girl in the PHC in town.( Of course this PHC is quite primitive in its facilities, but its a start! This mommy must travel 3 more hours before they can reach higher centers , that are not fantastic, but may have a pediatrician. ...)
Going downhill ,we just need to be alert not to slip, but climbing up is quite 'the' endurance test! We stop to catch our breath only when the chest threatens to burst :) After climbing a steep hill, exhausted ,we girls stretched out on the grass while the boys ran into a house on that hilltop to fill our bottle with water.Though our throats were dry, humor never dried out, laughing and singing ,our spirits were always enjoying a high :)Praise God!

These long walks to villages through picturesque hillsides, fields and valleys, invariably welded us together.We discovered the unique beauties hidden in each of our friends, as we shared a song here, a carrybag there, and short stops to eat bananas and rest.We found out how the sister with us loved to collect ferns and pine cones for dry flower decorations for the chapel... we reached home from Waphr that evening ,with practically a 'bag-ful' of the forest!
Jesus is very clever at preparing soul-stirring surprises... I felt this facet of His love through little children. An eight year old boy and later a 4 year old girl, on different occasions.. . they would unexceptionably take a fancy to me [as if on a cue from Him ;) ]come to me and make me play with them ,gift me a plum or a flower... they barely knew me, yet they trusted themselves to me, completely! Only God knows how much they comforted me unknowingly with their innocence and freely gifted love!

One evening ,on a day when i had experienced some sadness, Father took us for a babas' (father's) meeting in PWD colony. He had asked uncle Philip (our older JY member) to give the gathering a talk.As we reached the house , the above mentioned 4 year old girl, Limreila, met me for the first time.She examined my rosary, my stethoscope, and opened my umbrella, then replaced everything in my bag ,before climbing into my lap and playing with me. She let me carry her to the neighbors' house, and later nestled next to me and pretended to read a hymnal throughout the talk.By the end of the talk, she took the stick of the agarbathi that had burnt out and pretended to pierce my hand with it.I had been quietly enjoying her childish antics and friendship, it really made me forget my sadness. By then I had given her many little kisses... so as she played her game of 'nailing' my hand , i thought to myself... 'Man, this is just like us. Jesus loves us and pets us so much and after enjoying His love so long, we just playfully, hammer nails into His hands! stupid us!'.As we were leaving , Limreila made me pick her up.She had decided to come back with us to Father's house.But of course we couldn't take her along ...

"ah, she is quite a philosopher isn't she? lets pat her on the back..." from you guys is not quite the aim of this narration!;) ... what followed is what amazed me... devout catholic though i am , due to my aversion to calenders and remembrances (which, unfortunately, is so vital to social living), it totally came as a surprise when Father told us that the day's mass would be in honor of the Sacred Heart ,whose feast it was on that day. The first reading was Hosea 11:1 onwards... "when Israel was a child , I loved him....Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them...I was to them like those who LIFT INFANTS TO THEIR CHEEKS.I bent down to them and fed them." I remembered Limreila :) The gospel was about the crucifixion. .. John 19:34" instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and at once blood and water came out."

So like that the Holy Spirit had preached the word to me before the mass itself! It was mission experience par excellence ,to me :)"O taste and see, that the Lord is good!For He tastes like honey in the rock...He is my everything,He is my la la"

The clergy and religious of the diocese of Nagaland are a living witness to the fire of love that Christians everywhere are called to share. 12-hour journeys through bumpy , hair-pin-curve roads would be interspersed every 3 hours with the hospitality of priests and nuns of the parishes along the way.Their love for Fr. Francis (our priest) would make them open their hearts,houses and convents to us generously. Father only had to give them a heads-up , and there would be ready for us breakfast, lunch,tea or dinner!:) In Kohima, we were given a guided tour of the cathedral (which is the largest in Asia) by Fr.Benny, the Bishop's secretary. It was something memorable, to hold in my hand, the big toe of the 18 feet tall Jesus on the central crucifix, carved out of a single piece of wood (except for the arms) hanging on the wall,behind the altar.

Thank you Jesus , and all of you who as Jesus Youth made this mission possible.
God bless you all.
Please remember me in your sms's to heaven ;) my md entrance exam preparations and the exams themselves.. cos God hears the prayers of His saints :)
In Jesus and Mama Mary

Musings of a missionary doctor in the land of Nagas - Part I

One day in your courts O Lord, is better than thousands elsewhere... . one day as Your missionary where You send us,O Lord ,is better than thousand days in the comfort of familiar home ground.

I'm not a nun, a theologian nor a counselor, just a 24 year old , fresh out of medical college... yet young and old wanted to hear what this young lady , a doctor from so far away had to say to them...going to a mission area along with "professionals to mission" has given me the opportunity very few young doctors perhaps saviour! the opportunity to touch a lot of hurting poor people.

At the end of 10th std , i had told Jesus that the best chance for me to be a missionary of His was to be a doctor. He made me a doctor. But 7 years is a long time and i had long forgotten that teenage promise... though of course to serve Jesus wherever He might place me was my motive, a radical missionary life seemed too outlandish!

But praise the Lord! He had taken my promise quite seriously... A doctor friend of mine , spoke to me the words Jesus wanted me to hear... inspiring me to dare to give to Jesus the first fruits of my service as a doctor by serving the really poor in the mission lands.

The ostrich hides her head in the sand and thinks no one can see her. Christian Mbbs doctors hide themselves behind their books and think the Lord cant ask any mission work of them. If i became a doctor just to make money or to be a social worker then joining the rat race for a post graduate seat would be appreciable. But since He chose me to be His witness, a doctor for Him, my decision 2 bury my gold coins in the mud with the laudable excuse of preparing for pg just like my friends would be saying no to Him... so I thank Jesus for this opportunity

One month in nagaland taught me many things... one incident flashing like neon lights in my memories of nagaland that will both humble and exalt me throughout my life is what took place in a lil room filled with many daughters and sons of an old couple. The woman bed ridden with excruciating back pain following a fall. the first visit there i wrote a prescription for iv fortwin phenergan.the son promised to get it even if he had to travel 3 evening we went there so i could give the injection.however, the army medical assistant had already supplied the medicine and administered it.So after encouraging them to visit a higher centre for treatment of a possible fracture, my 3 friends n i were politely saying gbye when the old lady held my hand and motioned for me to pray over her. i had been always shying away from that, especially since a priest or nun with me would do it. this time we were only lay people and it was a baptist family. But i prayed that night.and then on whenever possible ended every consultation with prayer.

Really , Jesus is our loving elder brother.He uses us to do through us the good that He wishes to do for others .Because He loves to see our souls aglow with joy after each good deed He enables us to do.He is bowled over by even a tiny smile on our lips!He is captivated by us despite our weaknesses!!

Throughout my mission experience. He was there creating venues for me to be of service.
He put a zealous missionary priest in charge of me and the nun with me.Thanks to this happy blessing , we were welcomed in almost every house as Father escorted us around.When Father was out of station for a week, the catechists who love him and share his vision and passion took us to 3 villages,(viz Waphr, Liangkonger and Shamatoor village) arranging health education seminars wherever possible.

My days were filled with chances to proclaim to the people :"your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." and to preach prolife sentiments . medical check ups after the seminar , dispensing the medicines Father had stockpiled for me , and medical check up in the school,patients coming to consult at home, ..

Telling stories to the catechism kids, teaching them action songs and explaining to them the blessings of the rosary , smudged the faint line differentiating the doctor from the missionary :) One day i was given an awesome invitation by the Father to lead the adoration for a few of us.For this blessing i give full credit to Mama Mary with whom i had prayed 3 rosaries that day... which is usually an impossibility for me!

In jakama ,st. Joseph's college, we explained Jesus Youth to the 150 hostellites. .. by a one n half hour program.i was unanimously made mc, by my loving english-shy brothers! later they rejoiced when i went to the pulpit to deliver a half an hour extempore on JY and its 6 pillars in the parish of Vishvema.

through it all, we experienced the hospitality of the catholic church in nagaland.there is more to share.. i 'll continue tomorrow dear brothers and sisters. Gnight!
your loving sister
in Jesus and Mama Mary

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reflection on Child like love for my Lord.

I was enjoying a morning of rough and tumble with my two younger ones on the bed in the morning. It was a holiday and the luxury of lazing around and wrestling around with my younger two was all mine. I was enjoying the innocent love of the two little hearts which loved and trusted me with out conditions. These moments made me reflect on my love for our Lord.

During the initial days of the love for my Lord, my love was as innocent and beautiful as kunjunnis and kunju babychans love for me. It didn’t have a format, it didn't have words, it didn't have any frills and thrills. It was simple love. When I felt like loving my Lord, I would tell him Lord I don’t know how to pray properly, I don’t know how to meditate upon your love. I don’t have enough of my own love stored up to give you, so let me enjoy your ,love and show my love for you in me own childish ways. Then I could snuggle up into his loving arms as kunjunni did, and enjoy His love enfolded in his loving arms. I could snuggle up into the crook of his arm and stay there enjoying his presence and His love. I could enjoy the silkiness of his beard, hold his loving face in my arms and look deeply into those loving eyes. I could put my head on is chest and hear the murmur of his heart telling me of his infinite love. But I could not understand a word of it as I still did not know enough about his love. But those heart beats still told me how much he loved me. It could fill peace and joy with in my heart. Those murmurs could be the love song that could give me happy and contented sleep. I could feel the loving wound just below his pierced heart. Although it was a hard scar rough to touch, they spoke of his love for me. When his hand passed through my hair, I again could feel the scars on his hands, but they didn't feel rough to me. The scars told me about a love that sacrificed a godly existence for me. They told me about a resolute march through his life towards the cross for His love of me. They told the story of a God who loved his people to sacrifice His only son for them. They still talked to me of a God who waits me on the altar in the form of humble bread and wine so that he could be one with me on this earth They told me of an impatient God who would rather be sacrificed on the altar here on earth every day and be consumed by an unworthy me so that he could be with me now rather than waiting for me in heaven.

Now I know the formulas of prayers. I can say very pious prayers. I can sing and praise him and may be lead worship times. I can give discourses on his infinite love. But how I wish I had that innocence of my first love. How I wish I could have the intensity of that first love. I could give all my piousness, the beauty of my prayer and every thing to have the preciousness of that first love. I am in search of that wonderful love deep within me. And I am sure there is a lord impatiently waiting for me to reciprocate that love. My only consolation is that he is the Lord of love and he is an impatient Lord in matters of love. So my heart is searching for him knowing that he alone can give me back that love …

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bring Him to ME! Bible Reflection from Fr.Tom

Mt 17.17: “Bring him [the boy] to me”. This was Jesus. The disciples of Jesus had tried their best to get the boy healed before Jesus came after his tryst with God, His Father at Jesus’ transfiguration event. But nothing came of it. So Jesus somewhat disappointed asked them to bring the boy to him.

I hear him say this to me and to all who are working with young people. When we are powerless to do for a boy or girl to heal them of any weakness, Jesus tells me: Bring him/her to ME! How often we like to do things on our own but some cases need lots more of faith.

This story is much more elaborate in Mark 9.14-29 with many more interesting details. For instance, when the apostles ask Jesus why they could not cast out the demon in the boy, Jesus replies “This kind [of devil] can only come out through prayer.” Mk 17,29. So to handle the possession of some of our young people can be healed only through faith and prayer. In this context recall what Jesus said in the Gospel of John 15.5: without me you can do nothing! Faith and prayer imply that we rely more on Jesus than on our own expertise or skills alone. Sure we need expertise and skills but they avail nothing unless we have faith and prayer.

As I reflect on this simple statement of Jesus, I see this invitation to parents, teachers in schools and colleges, formation centers, parishes, hostels, youth centres with teenage boys and girls, who are not easy to handle. Bring him/ her to ME. Bring her to me in prayer. Sit with him/her to listen to them to help them discern their problem area and after having done all we can for them we bring them to the Master for his touch.

I also feel that often when we fail to help our young people, we tend to blame them and their environment and companions and all sorts of imagined causes for their behavior seldom thinking that we might be part of the problem rather than the solution. This is when we take them to Jesus. This means also that we go along with them for we might need fixing more than the one we take to Jesus. It is very unflattering to realize that we need fixing too. In the Marcan narrative, the father of the boy realized that his faith was weak, so he prayed: “I do believe, help my unbelief” Mk 9.24. In our everyday language, we could paraphrase: I have some faith but it is so weak, so small, so ineffective. Please help me to grow in faith. Jesus says: come to me and I will help you increase your faith at least to the size of the mustard seed. Bring him/her to me. Come yourself to me. Bring me yourself, your weak faith and I can help to increase it.