2018 so far has been a year of some pretty noteworthy adventures in my book. Somewhere along the line recently, I've begun saying "Yes" whenever possible. Sometimes a thing is not possible. Sometimes I say yes and then it doesn't end up panning out. But more often than not, a yes has resulted in an adventure...a thrilling, fulfilling, exhausting, faith-stretching adventure of some kind where I wind up depending on the Lord desperately...which is always a good place to be. Its quite a thing to suddenly realize I've said yes to something insanely scary. Like singing for thousands of people in a country where I don't speak the language. Finding myself on a plane with my best friend on our way to a little village in the Philippines. Doing crafts with school kids on that island who jabber happily at me in their native tongue and look puzzled when I can't answer them. Finding myself in front of groups of kiddos on the other side of the world and praying my guts out that I will bring glory to God and they will feel His love through me. I keep learning that God teaches us greatly when we say yes, and put our sweaty, trembling hand in His. He is SO faithful!
This year I felt a tug to do something way more simple, but no less scary, and definiteley no less significant. I had been communicating with a girl named Jayna on Facebook Messenger. Even in her tiny profile photo, I could tell something was not quite right with her posture. I asked where she lived, and she told me in a nursing home. She told me her dad is struggling with Parkinson's and couldn't handle her any more, her mom had passed away years ago, so this was the only place for her. She said its an okay place, but she's bored and lonely.
Turns out the nursing home is just 20 minutes from my house, and only 10 minutes from my church, so I decided to go visit her. Entering a nursing home is kind of an adventure in itself. This particular home is a nice enough place, with lots of cheery employees around, but plenty of elderly people everywhere...sleeping in beds, some completely comatose, others sitting in chairs or wandering in the hallways. One toothless, wrinkled up little woman in a wheelchair saw me come in, and immediately scooted over to me with her one functioning foot and began to point down the hallway.
"Do you want to go down that way?" I asked her. She continued to point and grunt as if she urgently needed to get down that hallway. The CNA in the office gave me a wave as if to say, "it's okay," so I began to push this little woman I don't know all around that place, as she jabbed her little finger in the air to turn right, then left, then right, then left again. After we made a complete circle, I realized that little firecracker just took me on a ride. She was adorable.
I finally found Jayna's room, and I immediately realized why her Facebook Photo puzzled me. She is a very "little person" (she doesn't mind calling herself a midget), and a very rare brittle bone disease has done a number on her spine. She can no longer breathe without the assistance of a ventilator, so she basically is attached to a machine that is attached to the wall....for the rest of her life. She is completely "with it" mentally, and has a cheery attitude that humbled me instantly. Its difficult for Jayna to speak--she has to kind of yank on the tube going into her throat in order for the sound to come out, stop every third word to gulp air, then yank again and get three more words out. And yet she is cheerful. All over her room are drawings and scripture verses and photos and collages. She treasures people and friendships and small joys in life.
I try to visit Jayna once a week now. I've figured out that she likes a certain kind of yogurt, so I bring her some. One time I noticed a clip that was falling out of her hair, and she couldn't get to it because her arms are so short. So I took it out for her, and asked if she would like a little head massage. I'm not sure what made me think of that...I think it was Jesus, because I had been asking Him to show me what small thing I can do for this precious young woman. As I rubbed her head, her eyes rolled back and then closed. She LOVED it.
There isn't much to these visits--a little chatting, some snacking, a head massage, some visiting with other people in her room. I'm getting to know Jayna a little more every time. And I honestly think this is one of the most important things God has called me to do right now. A profound and simple act of love and service that is probably more of a blessing to me than to Jayna.
She is one of hundreds of bored and lonely people in that facility alone. I can't imagine how many there are like her in homes all over the place. What a massive need, massive ministry. Maybe that's why we are implored in the scriptures over and over and over to visit the poor, the orphans, the widows in their various conditions. He loves them so....and for me, He loudly and clearly called me to reach out to at least this one. Simple and profound.