The next morning I was moved to buy huge sacks of rice, and a supermarket trolley of food for both the Jesus mission and the compound. We went first to the JMC Ministry, the Brothers and Sisters were thrilled with the gifts. While we were there we were told of a lady who was in a small bamboo room to the right hand side of the speaker’s platform. I was told this lady was quite ill so I immediately went to visit her.
I had never encountered the condition of breast cancer in the fourth stage. I entered the room slowly, cautiously, to be quite honest the stench of rotting flesh was so overpowering it took all of my strength to sit beside her and hold her hand. Her name was Merna. She was very frail, weak and embarrassed. Merna couldn’t speak English, but allowed the girl taking care of her to show me her damaged breast. Her large breast was more than 50% eaten away by the disease. It looked as though scores of maggots had devoured the flesh. Struck by her reality I struggled to find a comforting smile as I gazed into her eyes silently and respectfully.
Merna had been at the church for 3 weeks, fasting and received no medical care whatsoever, only the loving attention of this girl who had no medical training. I learned the girl was a Sister, she was 21 years old and a mother to a 2 year old. This was why she was at the church, cast out for becoming pregnant outside marriage. The overpowering smell in the room, and I’ve healed in some terrible conditions, made it difficult for me to even attempt to give her healing, as a few deep breaths are an essential process in preparing to channel healing energy. I suggested we should take her to the hospital so she could receive correct dressings, treatment and painkillers, she was on absolutely no medication whatsoever. I can’t imagine the emotional pain she was going through, looking down at her once beautiful body to see it rotting away, and the physical pain? She was only 46 years old.
Brother Russell who was in charge and one of the sisters accompanied us to a hospital to find out where we could take her. The first hospital would not admit her unless we were prepared to pay approximately GBP 600 for treatment. They suggested another hospital that dealt with paupers. The second hospital agreed to accept her and I had to go to 3 offices to find an ambulance that would go and collect her. I then had to pay for the ambulance which followed us back to the church. This process had taken over 3 hours.
It was over 35 degrees, very humid and the frustration and feeling of helplessness was immense. I was also aware that we should have been in the compound beach hospital but we had no means of telling them we couldn’t make it; letting people down is something I really detest. If you make a commitment to do something then I believe you should honour it, but the desire to help Merna was so overwhelming I had to break the appointment.
When we opened the doors of the ambulance to put Merna inside, behind the dark glass I realised it was really only a minibus with old fashioned seating, with a driver and no nurse. The 4×4 that we were driving around in was far more comfortable. I was stunned yet again. The journey to the hospital now took over 30 minutes, due to extremely bad traffic, most of which was tricycle taxis – basically motorbikes with sidecars.
The admission ward had 5 treatment beds in a row, a reception desk, people milling around and no curtains for privacy. My heart sunk as I saw the embarrassment and the pain on Merna’s face as she was examined in this open public place by a doctor. After his examination, I spoke to the doctor who told me there was nothing they could do for her. She could be admitted but even though the hospital bed was free the doctor, the surgeon, the drugs, the dressings all had to be paid for privately. I offered to pay for the care and the treatment for her but what I was about to discover was that she had visited this hospital five months previously knowing she couldn’t afford it, and at that time had made the decision to leave it to God’s will. That’s why 3 weeks previously she had turned up at the JMC Ministry. She never told any of the brothers and sisters that she had been to the hospital.