My daughter and I went on a mission trip two years ago. We were to interpret for a team of Doctors and Nurses from Michigan going to Honduras. It thrilled me to observe my fourteen-year-old daughter interacting with the adults and being treated as one of the team. The next youngest team member was thirty-two.
On that trip, Adele braved the heat, endured the smells, interpreted some embarrassing subjects and interacted as a peer with adults. I was so proud to see that mature, responsible side of her, even when she corrected my Spanish grammar!
One particular day we traveled on roads that were not really roads, crossed a makeshift bridge in our van that was meant for foot traffic, winded up and down the side of rural mountain to arrive at a beautiful mountainside church where we were to set up clinic. The ground was lush from the winter rains and there was the odd house along the way, built on the sides of the hills.
It was 90 degrees and we had neither fan nor running water. The villagers, so grateful for care and relief of pain, were waiting for us and soon the line grew to almost more patients than we could attend to in one day. Many had hiked quite a way to be seen but that was their life. They were used to it.
About half way through the day, a lady arrived with her ninety one year old mother in tow. She had walked the whole way, was exhausted and tripped as she entered the makeshift clinic, hitting her head on the ground. Due to her age, she was immediately escorted to the front of the line and seated on one of the white plastic chairs to speak with the Doctor and Adele. Dr. Tony begin to question her and proceded to look at her eyes as one eye remained closed as the lady talked. He examined her, then exclaimed, “Adele! You have to see this!”
He raised her eyelid and shone his light into an empty cavity where once housed an eyeball. It was empty. Adele stared into the hole, full of amazement and curiosity, and leaned in to take a closer look. Right at that moment the lady opened her mouth and threw up all over Adele.
Before anyone could clean up the vomit, two dogs that were wondering in and out of the building, ran over and quickly ate it up, as only ravenous dog do. The ground was clean but Adele’s scrubs were a mess.
The only water available was that in our water bottles. She used these to clean her hands then used baby wipes, followed by hand sanitizer, to clean up as best she could. What she really needed was a bath and clean clothes.
I had to laugh and my heart swelled with pride. Not only did Adele not get sick or grossed out, but also she never complained nor acted in a way to make the lady nor the villagers feel bad.
Her Facebook status that night was, “Today I got thrown up on by a ninety-one year old lady with one eye!”
Yesterday Adele got word she had been accepted to go on a mission trip to Kenya this summer. Yes, she is the youngest member of the team, but I am not worried. She showed a level of maturity, love, acceptance and humor that many older adults do not have. I know, once again, this will be a mission trip that will make me proud.
And I will be checking daily for Facebook status updates!