Friday night, 9:30pm and my nokia rings (the new iphone these days). I look at it to see our Elders Quorum President's name on the screen. He explains that tomorrow (last saturday) he was going to give a blessing to a member who had called him asking for one from IPS hospital. He asked for our help. So at 9:30am we went to the hospital. Now I had only stepped into one hospital here in Paraguay up until this point. Hospital Bautista, one of the nicest if not the nicest here in Asuncion, is the hospital we use as a mission if anyone has to go to a doctor or the hospital for any reason. It's a private hospital kept very clean and looks nice. Well, IPS central is nothing like that. Hno Palomeque explained that this hospital is what the workers of Paraguay pay to. Each worker pays 5% of their paycheck and each employer pays 10% of the paycheck to run and fund IPS hospitals. I know of 2, but there are probably more. We walk in and in the room to just get attention there were 100 people sitting and standing with broken legs, bandages on their head or other parts of their body with blood seeping through. This wasn't emergency care, but it was normal care, and everyone had to wait their turn. People have explained to me that one has to arrive at 4 or 5 in the morning to get a turn for that day. Super super sad. Anyways, we walked to the elevator. Waited a couple seconds then took the stairs. It was on the 6th floor. At that point, I realized how long I have been in the office. We were exhausted climbing to the 6th floor.
We entered the room of the member who had asked for a blessing, but he wan't alone yet with 2 other people. I could not stop glancing at the man closest to the door, his body pale, purple, swollen with a bandage over his chest. Eventually, the member explained his new friend, Victoriano Franco, had just recently had heart surgery. His son, Junior, had been with him every step of the way. They were from one of the interior cities, so they had no family or anyone here. This man was in terrible condition. We first gave him a blessing. Our elders quorum president gave a wonderful peaceful ordinary blessing. By ordinary, I mean he did not command him to take up his bed and walk. In fact, he didn't say much about his recovery, just mentioned at the very end of the short prayer that he would improve. We then gave the member a blessing. The 3rd patient, a man about 40 yrs old had sat up attentively throughout the whole process. On the other end of the spectrum, his wife had walked out just before the first blessing claiming she was not in agreement with what we were doing and was of another religion. We went and talked with the other man. He was a very nice respectful man. We shared a scripture with him from 3rd Nephi when Christ heals the sick and testified that power and authority is still here on the Earth today. Even though he did not agree with all of our beliefs, and was confident in his, he showed what true respect is. He knew and recognized we came in the name of Christ and he sat up for all we did, while his wife walked out angrily. Its a testimony to me that everyone does know a certain portion to why we are here and do recognize that we come in the name of Christ to share his gospel and help anyone and everyone. After All, we do wear his name on our chest every day.
Our beloved new friend, Victoriano, passed away 3 hours after the blessing, Hno Palomeque informed us the next day. That hit us hard. I knew it from the moment we entered the room that he was not in good condition, but to know his last hours were spent with his son and his new friends are comforting. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways (mysterious only to us occasionally) and I know that the member in the hospital (who did not appear to have anything major wrong with him) was placed in the same room as Victoriano not by coincidence but for a purpose that we would be able to visit him and offer him some peace in his last hours of life.
To brighten up the mood, it is Christmas! Yesterday, Elder Parada and I went Christmas tree shopping for the Evan's home. We found one that was great. It would be just right in their house, probably reaching the ceiling. We got it, took it to the church to try it out, and realized it was a lot taller than we thought...Turns out, they folded down the top in the store so we bought one that was way to tall for their house. We took it back this morning and got a nice one that will actually be a perfect fit. Oh, some Christmas packages came! That made everyone happy, especially me! The whole office crew took a picture with our gifts, thanks mom! Plus, last friday night was Mburucuya's Christmas party/event. I scored having a comp who served there for 6 months. Mburucuya and Campo Grande were one ward, years ago, but they are still close. We use the same building, and they invited us to their christmas party! So we took some party hat photos. Tonight, is the Campo Grande end of the year dinner. Free food. :) oh and good company. We have been going strong every night with our Christmas stories. Every night we read another each reminding us of the joy their is in giving and serving-something our Savior perfected. E. Parada have come up with the idea to take a stocking around with us in the car and anytime someone asks for money, we are going to pull it out and give them some of the american/canadian treats we got this week. Its not much, but its something little that makes us happy and the little kids as well. And just like that, any of you can do the same! Something so little can bring a lot of joy to everyone during the Christmas season and throughout the whole year!
PS-My mom wanted me to clarify that yes, I am still serving a mission here in Paraguay. Apparently some were left a little confused after my email last week. 😉