A Heart of Gratitude


‘Joy is a grateful spirit, an optimistic attitude and a heart full of love.’ – author unknown.

It is so refreshing to read other people’s messages of gratitude, as they share them on Facebook.  The first ones I cared to read came as I checked into hospital and steeled myself against television and the perpetual noise some channels invade your life with.  What a relief it was, to have limited internet access and to share precious moments reading personal testimonies and heartfelt gratitude of believers in Christ.  Every chance I get, I scour their stories and learned what wonderful things God began and continued to do in their lives. This was a source of great encouragement, relating and commiserating for their audience.  What a time of great learning too!

I really thank God for expounding my boundaries last weekend and into this week. For sending me on assignment to a group of women with troubled backgrounds, from frustrating ailments and an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

The first neighbour in the ward was an elderly woman, who looked eighty years old but was in fact in her sixties.  She was flown into Nairobi for further treatment from Comoros. She coughed and wheezed behind her curtain walls, surrounded by her two anxious and fidgeting sons, one in their twenties and the other in their thirties. Her daughter sat upright next to her mother’s bed silent and resolute as a bevy of nurses and a flock of doctors attended to her. Her head and clothing covered in a ‘buibui’ in accordance to their faith. Then once the labs tests, scans and regular examinations done for the day, then would pull the curtains around her bed and launch into Muslim prayers in Arabic.

I sat in the next cubicle listening as they whispered prayers in turn, shuffling chairs that poked the curtain into my cubicle. A few hours later, over dinner, their mother unable or unwilling to eat, kept saying, ‘La, la’, (no, no) to everything they offered her. Finally, a nurse came and she ate a little, then promptly went to sleep.

I ate in silence, huddling my hospital gown wrapped tightly around me, as her sons strode in and out of her cubicle. Eventually, I woke up at 1 in the morning to a nurse’s voice, checking on my blood pressure and heart rate. I motioned to him about the commotion in the next cubicle, as her sons argued over some unknown issue, intermittently rousing their mother for comment.  The nurse smiled and mouthed ordered them to leave immediately. I sank back into bed and into a dreamless but fulfilling slumber.

The next day, as the nurses prepped me for a blood transfusion, I heard more doctors and nurses check on my dear neighbour. She wheezed out her responses to them and groaned as they sponge-bathed her and put her into new pyjamas and bedding.  She soon dozed off, snoring in a rather obvious peaceful contentment. Peace for another few hours before her rather noisy and communication-challenged offspring arrived.

I soon found myself with an urge to pray for her. The only problem with that is, she neither spoke English nor Kiswahili. My French is good but she had not spoken a word of it to her children or the doctors. So I prayed and asked God to guide me, which He did.

By lunch time, the old Comoran lady had lost her voice and appetite. Her convulsions worsened.  Her Parkinson’s flared up. By early afternoon, after extra blood tests, the doctors were able to decide that dome medication other than their own issued by her children.  They admitted to it, rather reluctantly and hesitated before handing over the offending medications. It turned out, they presumed the particular drug, prescribed at home to manage her blood pressure.  Sadly, it did nothing of the sort and only led to weakened kidneys and her poorly state. Within minutes they were defending themselves, in frayed tempers, demanding the doctor give them something else to manage her blood pressure. Sadly for them, as they hospital conducts blood pressure, temperature and heart rate tests every 2 hours, on every patient, the evidence worked against their demands. An argument ensued and nurses rushed in to contain a rather pathetic confrontation. I later learned that they had all neglected their mother’s health back in Comoros, abandoning her care to neighbours as they lived their detached city lives. Then their mother’s neighbours would call on various health issues, which they chose to ignore, until finally they called to say the old lady had not left her house for a number of days and did not answer her door.

That afternoon, I prayed a lot more for her, asking for her safety and healing.  By four o’clock that afternoon, she sat up and asked for milk, drank the whole glass and had two more. Then she rolled off to sleep. By morning, as I marched back from my shower, I caught a glimpse of her face, eyes bright, skin fresh and complexion a good healthy colour. She looked sixty that Sunday morning.  The nurses offered her breakfast. She ate heartily and slept once more. By early afternoon, the doctors were ready to discharge her. She spoke in a strong voice, confident a sounding surprisingly clear-headed. A doctor who spoke Comoran attended to her.  She sounded do positive and repeated ly expressed her gratitude.  I realised at that moment, that God came in, healed her and she was ready to leave. At around,  six that evening, she left with her daughter, safely and with a smile on her face. My husband met the merry family at the lift and confirmed their departure.

I thank God for allowing me to witness that healing and the opportunity to pray for her. I pray that she gets to know and put her faith in Jesus. I pray for continued peace in her life and a new beginning for her. One of reconciliation and joy. Lord, thank you for this opportunity!