Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Changed Heart For the Left and Forgotten

A Changed Heart for the Left and Forgotten

Twelve in total from our church went on a youth mission trip to St. Louis MO to join a number of other youth groups for a Week of Hope.  During the long journey, from Aurora Co to St. Louis MO, questions about what did I get myself into, what were we going to do, and would I be able to do the job that would be asked of me crossed my mind.  When we arrived there our group was split into various groups that were mixed from the other youth groups that came.  I was a little nervous at first. I was put in a group where I only knew one other person Rachel and I was the only adult.  Later Rachel would be moved to another group and my daughter Samantha would come into my group. It would be up to me to lead the group.  I was relieved to find out that we would partner up with another group. When coming on the trip I had no idea what to except.  Now it was time to find out where we would be placed and what we were going to be doing for the rest of the week.  It turns out that our group was assigned to a Christian Medical home for Senior Adults.  This home had a various different care from very little to the extreme hospice care.  This announcement made me uncomfortable at first.  Memories of my childhood and the times I visited my grandmother flooded my thoughts.  I never liked visiting her there and to be honest the thought of going to a place like that again frightened me.

Morning came and it was time to head off.  As they called our van number my heart sank.  On the drive there I saw a community that was in repair.  You could see proof of a storm that took its toll on the homes there.  Many roofs were covered with blue plastic tarps waiting to be replaced.   As we approached the Christian medical center we were told that it was a new building just a little over a year old.  We grabbed our supplies and entered the building.  Our first assignment was to clean up the grounds from trash and later we would visit some of the residents that lived there.  I was more than happy to clean up the trash but was very hesitant to visit.  Cleaning up the grounds didn’t take long and before we knew it we were inside awaiting a list of those we needed to visit.  I got tired of sitting so I started to walk around.  I didn’t get far when a lady approached me. She had heard I was from Colorado and she said she loved Colorado and gave me a hug.  Her name was Sue and she had lived there for many years.  We talked a bit and she told me she was glad I was there.  She had to go to see her boyfriend Jack and said she would see me later.  Everyone was sitting around waiting still and there was a lady sitting in a chair watching game shows in the lobby area.  I said hi and told her my name was Trish.  She said hi and told me her name was Monica.  She didn’t say anything else just glared. The lady came with the list and we were spilt into two people per group.  I was paired up with Heather a beautiful young lady who was very outgoing.  We made our rounds to find that many people were either not in their rooms, asleep, or for those we saw couldn’t communicate and hooked up to machines with tubes everywhere.  Many looked as if they were in a vegetated state.  We would say hi and introduce ourselves to them to no avail.

We walked the halls several time and each time I noticed the same lady pulling herself down a hallway and back up the hallway with her feet.  She looked determined.  As she pulled herself with her feet she would chomp her teeth together.  I tried to say hi but she was focused.  One of the volunteers said that is all she does all day every day.  There was another lady sitting in her wheelchair, she was a small framed very thin white lady.  Her face was covered with wrinkle after wrinkle.  She didn’t have any teeth and when I said hi her face lit up and she smiled wrinkles and all.  She would than go back into a trance and when you said hi again it was like she was meeting an old friend again.  We did this several times.  She would light up and then would fade away.

One room that was on the list was for a lady by the name Betty.  She was a beautiful black lady.  Her hair was short and white as snow.  She had the most beautiful eyes but they seemed to have no life in them. She was very frail as she laid there in her bed with her blankets stained with urine.  Motionless she stared blankly at the wall.  We said hi but there was no response.  She was hooked up to a feeding tube and other tubes.  She seemed to be just a shell.  My heart broke for her.  I found out later that she had no family or anyone who came to visit her.  Deep inside I wish I could have brought her a little spark, a smile, and maybe some hope.  From the other side of the curtain we heard a voice full of attitude that said she can’t talk. We walked around the curtain and started to talk to this lady named Latousha.  She was a heavy black lady with short black curly hair and she didn’t look very old at all.  She looked like she meant business as she asked me if I played cards. I said no not really.  Heather said she knew how to play a card game called spoons.  Latousha said I don’t know that one and asked if we played Uno.  That game we both knew how to play.  She cleared her bed and told us to have a seat so we sat and played a couple of games.  Latousha was excited to play and was very much into the game.  She took the game very serious as she slammed each card down with passion.  It was time to go so we said goodbye, that we would see her tomorrow, and would try to play another game of Uno with her. On the drive home I didn’t feel like I did anything or that I made a bit of a difference.

Later that night we had our evening program with all the youth groups that came and then spilt into our personal youth group to discuss the theme for the week which was taken from John 15:5 that we are the branches and He is the vine.  We had some free time and then headed to bed.  I went to bed feeling like it was going to be a long week and was not too excited for the next day.  I shared the room with my daughter Shannon so that was nice.  She was in a group that was helping with a school and was able to interact with the kids there.  My other daughter Samantha the first day was helping at a food bank until she was switched to my group the next day.  Some other groups work at a park doing landscaping, one helped at a lady's house with repairs, and another with habitat for Humanity building homes.  Secretly I hoped I could have been in one of those groups where you could have seen the effect on others.

Tuesday morning came and it was to time again to head out.  The day wasn’t much different than the day before.  As we waited I saw Sue in the one of the lobbies so went and talked to her and she introduced me to her boyfriend Jack.  I showed Sue pictures of my family that I had on my cell phone.  The whole time Monica was watching us from across the room where she had sat yesterday. The lady came with the list and it was time to go visit.  I said hi to Monica and she said hi Trish.  I was surprised that she remembered my name.  I said to her you remembered my name and she said yes I did, but did you remember mine.  Sadly I had to say no and she reintroduced herself by telling me again that her name was Monica.  I received my list. It was the same list of people except this time we would visit them in the morning in hopes we would catch more people in their rooms and then later we would help with some service projects there.

I was talking to a lady who worked there and she told me that the people on that list didn’t have any family.  This saddened me. This time I was partnered with David a young man from a youth group from Pittsburg.  We visited the same group of people with the same result.  Both of us were a little down as we walked through the halls. We heard some soul praise music coming from the chapel so we went in and sat down.  The ladies were all dressed up.  Especially this one lady I would later meet named Mae Black.  As she puts it “I am Mae Black from way back.” Her hair was dyed bright red and she had jewelry all over. I found myself getting into the music.  When they were done singing an elderly lady started preaching about how God is with all of us and gives us strength.  We couldn’t stay long but it was nice to hear God’s word. I tracked down Latousha and a few of us including Heather went to the dining hall to play a round or two of Uno.  I thought at least I was doing something.  It was fun.  I even won a round.

It was time to go and do our service project.  We were to paint the curbs yellow in front of the center to mark the no parking zones.  The curbs were already painted but we were to paint them again anyway.  We finished and packed up to head back.  As we were leaving we noticed that where we had just painted someone ran over it and left a big tire mark.  All that work for nothing it seemed.  At this point I was done.  If it wasn’t for the fact I was in MO and that I lived in Colorado I would have considered going home.  I was having a big battle inside.  This organization didn’t seem too organized at first and the center was making up things for us to do.  My group was bored and not so happy. 

The rest of the evening we had free time to spend with our own youth groups.  Our youth group went to the St. Louis Zoo.  We got there a half hour before they closed.  We ran inside.  Most of us excited to see the giraffes but the animals were being put away for the night. We walked around for about an hour.  It was funny to see Prairie Dogs in their own cage there in the zoo.  They run wild in Colorado.  A lady with her kids said that she would hate to run into one of them.  I told her in Colorado all you have to do is step out your door and you are sure to see one in the next couple of blocks or so.  She didn’t like the sound of that. Our next stop was the St Louis Arch.  I am deathly afraid of heights and was thinking of every reason not to go up, but the youth were not going to let me get out of it.  We rode through town, stopped at White Castle and ate.  None of us had eaten there before. We couldn’t find a parking place so we drove around a bit.  We finally found a place near the shore line.  The water level was high and came past the St. Louis shore line sign.  We walked for blocks, through a parking level garage, and a park to get there.  On the walk there the buildings were run down but the view was gorgeous. Old buildings filled with history along with a worn out cobblestone road. The structures spoke of its culture present and past.  As we approached the arch the top of it disappeared into the skyline.  Fears set in and so did the nerves.  The youth had a fun time at my expense and a few laughs as well.  When waiting we saw a display of a pod that we would ride up.  It was small and cramped.  It barely fit five seats per pod.  Not only am I afraid of heights, but I don’t like small places either.  Now I found myself going to the top of the arch that was too high for my taste in a cramp little pod, two of my biggest fears in one.  We had time to visit a gift shop while we waited for our turn to venture up to the top.  In the gift shop Kyle one of the youth told me that it takes four minutes to get to the top and three to get down.  I asked him why does it take less time to go down.  He said because you get to a certain point and then you drop.  When he said that my heart sank and I went to run.  He grabbed me and said he was just kidding.  Everyone laughed.  It was now time for us to go up.  We spilt into a couple of groups of five.  In my group was my daughter Shannon, our youth leader Chris, Katrina, Becca, and myself.  We walked down a set of stairs waited for a minute or two and then the doors opened.  With encouragement from the group I got in and the doors closed.  The pod started to go up.  It went up than jerked sideways than up some more. This repeated over and over again until we got up to the top.  The doors opened and we got out.  We walk to a platform which was enclosed and walked a crossed it.  We were on the top of the arch in a narrow room full of people.  It was crowded and every once in a while I felt it move with the wind.  I was a little more than freaked out.  We were 630ft high. There were thin rectangle windows that aligned the bottom so you could look out.  I got enough courage and looked out the windows.  The view was spectacular.  Everything was so small.  The city seemed to go on forever.  We stayed up there for probably a half hour or so.  I started to enjoy the view until I saw lightening.  We all decided to go.  I was glad I faced my fears.  Several others faced there fear as well including my daughter Samantha who I heard cried on the way up.  That night God reminded me that nothing is too big for Him not even our worst fears.

Weds morning came and we again were ready to head out.  I had a little bit of a better attitude knowing that I was at least bonding with my daughters and the youth group.  That made me happy.  We get there make our rounds with the same result.  There was an elderly man was sitting outside of his room and he seemed really upset.  I said hi and asked him if there was anything I could do for him.  He told me that his room was to cold and when he would go in he would hurt because it was so cold.  He just wanted to lie down but couldn’t.  I got someone to help him and he said thank you and that no one would listen to him except me.

The lady in charge of the activities asked if we would like to run a Bingo game.  We said yes and were told to gather those who wanted to play Bingo and bring them to the dining hall.  We walked the halls gathered those who wanted to play and brought them to the dining hall like we were told.  When walking the halls I kept on passing a lady sitting inside the front of the building as if she was getting ready to leave somewhere.  I set by her and asked her if she wanted to play bingo.  She looked at me and she seemed angry.  I continued to talk and told her my name.  I told her where I was from and ask her about herself.  She started to talk and the more she talked she became less angry.  It turns out that she was sitting there for hours waiting to go downstairs to dialysis.  She said she liked bingo but couldn’t go.  I said I would try to play for her.  Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise, because God had other plans.  We talk for a while and by the time they came she was smiling and we were laughing together.  The whole time we were talking I notice another lady sitting on the other side of the coach listening to us.  After I was done talking to the lady waiting for dialysis I started to talk to her.  She too was dressed as if she was waiting to go somewhere.  Her name was Rosie.  I told her that I have an aunt named Rosie.  She smile and said she must be nice.  It turns out that Rosie gets up every morning gets dressed and sits in the same stop as she waits for her daughter to come back and get her but never comes.  She was left there to be forgotten.

There was lobby full of people watching something on the television.  I asked if anyone wanted to play and a gentleman started trying to back up in his wheelchair and mumbled something.  I asked him if he wanted to go and play Bingo.  He shook his head yes so I started to push him to the dining hall. While I was pushing him he begged me to get him out of his chair and take him to his house.  He said that he was not supposed to be there and seemed agitated.  I told him sorry sir but I am not allowed to take him out of his chair.  I wheeled him in the dining hall and tried to push him up to one of the tables, but he wanted nothing to do with that and kept trying to get out of his chair.  At this point I had to go get help.  I was afraid that he was going to fall out.  As I was looking for help the activities coordinator asked if I and two others would like to help with a sensory group in the next room.  Not knowing what I was getting myself into I said yes.  I told the lady about the gentleman trying to get out of his chair and she said that he belonged in the sensory group along with all the other feeders (meaning those on feeding pumps).  She brought him to the room and secured him in his chair.  She left to get other patients and I went to get two volunteers.  I asked Heather and Ashby to help and they said yes.  We went to the room to find several ladies wheeling the patients in.  As they wheeled them in my heart broke.  Most of them seemed to be so fragile and helpless.  They even brought Betty to the room. She was still nonresponsive and all alone. 

The activity coordinator brought in a small basket of balls, small toys, and two containers of spices.  She told us to go around and give the different items to everyone so they can feel or smell them.  She than gave me two cds and told me to play them so they could listen to the music.  Before I put the music in I glanced around the room.  The room was full of just shells of people which seemed to have no life.  I held back my tears and turned to put the music on.  The music started playing it was old St Louis style jazzy Christian music.  When I turned I started to see sparks of life come over the once lifeless people.  Some started to move their heads to the beat of the music or their hands which they were barely were able move.  Heather, Ashby, and I made the rounds handed out the different items so they could experience them.  Many were not able to grasp the items, some didn’t want them, and other embraced them like they were precious jewels.

The lady I saw earlier who wheeled herself up and down the halls with her feet was there.  She decided to try to eat her rubber haired ball.  I had to try to prey it out of her mouth before she could chock on it.  Her teeth were clenched tight.  I was able to retrieve the ball from her mouth.  Everything we gave her she tried to eat so we had to stop giving her things.  As I was walking around the room a lady named Avvy started crying.  I went to see what was wrong with her and she said that the music was sad, reminded her of God, and asked if I could change the song, so I did.  She seemed to be happier for a bit and then she became upset again.  The girls tried to calm her down but couldn’t understand what she was saying, so I went to see if I could help.  I guess being a mom of six and being able to interrupt them helped because I was able to understand what she was trying to say.  She was upset because she didn’t want to share the toys with anyone else.  Everyone was trying to calm her down but couldn’t.  I took her hand and said listen to the music, isn’t it nice.  She looked at me and then started to move her hand to the music and we danced.  I took her hand and I danced all around her.  Avvy was a frail very thin black lady with the most beautiful smile.  She was missing her right leg but she really got into the song.  Later she began to cry again and talk about Jesus.  She said He is all she has left.  I told her that is all any of us really need.  I told her He will give her the strength she needs and that He is always there for her and she said yes He is.  Earlier Avvy was complaining that she needed to be scooted up so I told one of the nurses and when the nurse scooted her up she was very rough.  She picked her up like she was nothing and was not very gentle.  The whole time Avvy was saying hey not so rough,  you’re hurting me, and that she is still a human and doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. When the nurse was done scooting her up she said well you wanted me to lift you and so I did.  I got upset and told her that she didn’t need to treat her like that and that she shouldn’t have been so rough.  She just looked at me and walked off.  I can’t believe that anyone could treat someone else like that especially a frail old lady.
There was another lady there and she kept yelling oh Lord like she was in pain.  Her name was Marie.  I walked over and asked her if she was ok and she said that she wanted out and wanted me to take her home where she belongs.  I told her that I couldn’t.  She kept saying lift me up, lift me up, lift me up.  She begged me and begged me to lift her up.  I told her that I was so sorry but I wasn’t allowed to lift her up but I could lift her heart up to Jesus.  She yelled yes lift my heart to Jesus. I told her that He would give her strength, that He would comfort her, and that He loved her.  She started to cry and said oh Lord Lift me up.  She than asked me to lift her arms so she could praise Jesus.  She put all her weight on me as she leaned forward as to give me a hug.  She cried and cried. I lifted her arms up so she could praise Jesus.  She cried out with all her heart to God as she prayed and praised Jesus.  I asked what her favorite verse was and she quoted Psalm 23.  As I walk through the shadow of the valley of death I will fear no evil…..  I put her arms down and she with her weak arms held me and cried.  I hugged her and cried along with her.  What a moment of God’s love. Heather and Ashby at this point needed a break so I got Matthew and Jeff to join the room in their place.  Jeff had a grandfather who had dementia. It was very hard for them too.

There sitting quietly was a lady playing with a yellow small spiked ball listening to the music intently.  I went over and talked with her.  She was able to communicate well.  Her name was Maureen.  When I was done talking with her I looked around the room and there was a son who came in a sat with his mother.  She was the only one in the group that had any family.  She was doing so much better than those who didn’t have anyone.  The room had about twelve seniors in it.  Most of them just laid there and couldn’t interact.  There was a bald large black man with big lips there who liked to flirt with the nurses.  Every time one would walk by he would make kissy lips at them and smile.  He had a stuffed basketball that he had crushed in his massive hands. He would rub the basketball on his face over and over just like a toddler would. He seemed so strong on the outside but was kid like with his actions.  I went over to talk to him but he couldn’t talk.  He knew what he liked though.  I asked him questions about sports.  He didn’t like the Denver Broncos.  He would pretend to give me the basketball and then take it back as he laughed.
The gentleman I talked about earlier, the one who kept asking me to get him out of his chair started getting upset so I went over to him to talk to him.  He was angry and wanted out of his chair.  I started to ask him questions about sports and he calmed down.  He didn’t like the Denver Broncos either.  The more I talked to him the more he settled down.  I think I bored him to sleep.

A man lying in a stretcher in the middle of the room had the machine that he was hooked up that kept beeping loudly for a long time.  His name was James.  None of the nurses outside of the room seemed to notice.  I walked out and asked a couple of them to look at it but no one did.  Ashby came back in and went and demanded that someone would look at it. The nurse said oh I guess I should turn his feeding tube on.  Really I guess I will turn his feeding tube on. This made me very upset.

I started to walk around the room and talk with who I could and I would ask them if there was anything I could pray for them for.  I met this lady and she could barely talk.  I told her my name and ask her if there was something I could pray for her for and she said yes.  I asked her what and she said pray that I die. I started to pray with her.  I did ask God to take her but in his time, but I prayed for comfort, for strength of her heart, and her soul.  I told her that she is loved and that she made a difference in my life and that I was blessed to have met her.  I encouraged her with my favorite verses from the Bible.  She looked up and smiled.  I wish I remembered her name.

Earlier I noticed they wheeled a heavier beautiful black lady with short curly gray hair. She was covered with a blanket to her neck and she was put in the corner. She too was missing a leg. I was told that she was hopeless and that she doesn’t respond to anything.  I noticed though that her head was bobbing to the beat as the music was playing in the background.  I walked over to her. On the back of her wheel chair was the name Sally. I said hi Sally, how are you?  When I said hi Sally her head stopped moving to the music and she lifted it slightly.  She heard my voice.  As I continued to introduce myself I noticed her lift her hand a tiny bit as to offer it to me.  I grabbed it and set on the chair by her.  When I grabbed her hand she squeezed it as tight as she could and started to cry.  I looked into her clouded covered eyes and my heart broke.  I gathered that she was blind and couldn’t talk.  I just sat there and held her hand for a while praying that God would let her know that she is loved and that she is not alone.  I started to cry as well.  My heart felt as if it meshed with hers even if it was for a small moment time.  What a beautiful soul.  I took my other hand and stroked her hand with it softly.  Again I looked at her and a slight smile was on her face.  I was over whelmed with emotion and had to take a break.  I told her that I had to go for a bit but I would be back.  She shook her head yes.  I left the room and went to the bathroom and cried.  I gathered myself and went back.  I went over to Sally and said hi.  Again she offered me her hand.  I grabbed it and set again by her side.  I asked her if she was from St Louis and she shook her head yes.  I ask her a couple of other yes or no questions and she responded.  I continued to just sit there with Sally.  She started to move the hand that I was holding to the music so our hands gently danced.  The other youth leader Scott came in and said it was time to go.  By this time the activity director came in and said it was time for everyone to go back to their rooms.  I didn’t want to let go of Sally’s hand.  I wish I could have taken them all home with me, but I had to go.  I told Sally that I had to go she grabbed my hand tight again and started to cry as I said my goodbyes.  I told how blessed I was to have met her and that I would keep her in my prayers.  She shook her head yes again and I let go of her hand.  She put her head down as her eyes filled with tears. I turned the music off and everyone slowly went back to a vegetative state.  I would never see any of these people again. My heart broke and I didn’t want to say goodbye.  My heart was completely changed and a love for these people replaced my fears.
We left and went to the basement to build some chairs and to than again repaint the curbs. This time I wanted to stay and visit instead of hiding behind the scenes doing community service projects.  How things changed.  We finished painting the curbs gathered our things and went home.  Oh how my heart ached for those I met.  I could barely wait until I would return the next day.

During our youth group discussion that night I prayed to God and asked Him why was I there?  As I was praying Kyle a young man from our youth group pointed out flashes of light blinking on and off.  They were Lightening Bugs!  Ok I know this is silly but all my life I always wanted to see one.  I hate to admit it but seeing a lightening bug was on my bucket list.  When our youth leader Chris finished his lesson we all ran to catch the lightening bugs.  All of us were like little kids chasing and trying to catch them.  Daniel in his excitement caught one a little too hard and smashed it in his hands.  All the youth knowing how much I wanted to see one close up kept catching them and would run over to me to show me them.  We stayed outside chasing them around for the rest of the evening into the night.  I was determined to catch one myself.  My daughter Samantha caught one and ran inside to show all the other youths groups the lightening bug.  Of course most everyone else grew up seeing them so it wasn’t and big deal and they didn’t understand why we were so excited to see them.  Well we don’t have them in Colorado.  I finally caught one and when I did God said to me “even though the lighting bug produces such a small light all near it can see the light.  I want you to be a light to all you meet.  Show my love to them, it may be all the love they get until I come and get them.”   I got it, it wasn’t about me.  All it takes is love.  They may not be able to see, hear, or acknowledge me, but they will see the light of His love.

Well, Thursday came.  This would be our last day at the home.  I had so many mixed feelings.  I didn’t want to go, but I did miss my family back home.  As we sat waiting to find out what we would be doing again I saw Monica.  She was sitting in the same place.  I said hi and she said hi Trish like we had all week long.  I started talking to her.  She started to talk to me and tell me about her family.  She had a daughter and two grandkids.  Her husband had passed away many years ago.  She than asked me if I wanted to see a picture of her daughter and I said yes.  She got up and walked me to her room.  When we got to her room she proudly showed old pictures of her family. The only recent picture was of her grandson’s graduation picture.  She took me on a tour of her room.  She is roommates with Sue.  She showed me her room, the bathroom, and the shower.  When back by her bed she showed me a stuffed cartoon fish that sang and danced when you pressed its fin. Sue was lying in her bed resting her eyes.  Monica asked Sue if she could show me her dog.  The dog when its paw is push sang a song as well and danced and moved its ears up and down.  Both Sue and Monica laughed when the stuffed dog sang and danced.  We went back to the lobby and Monica told me that her daughter lives eleven blocks away.  I said that must be nice.  You must get to see your daughter a lot.  When I said that Monica’s face became sad and said no, I haven’t seen her for two years now.  I told her how sorry I was and asked if I could give her a hug and she said yes.  I gave her a big hug.  About that time the activity coordinator came and told us that we need to get people together to bring them to news club and then games in the dining hall.  So again, we gathered those who wanted to participate.  I was hoping we were going to have the sensory group again, but they only do that on Mondays, Weds, and Fridays.  While we were waiting for everything to get set up our group sang to those who were waiting.  The other adult leader Scott and a youth Jeff brought their guitars with them.  They played and we sang.  As we sang more and more seniors came in the room including the lady who waited for her daughter every day and her daughter never came back came in to hear us sing.  One by one, they wheeled themselves into the room to hear us sing about God.  They all dance in the chairs and wheel chairs.  One lady clapping to the beat clapped herself to sleep.

There was this lady that a lot of the youth bonded with named Mae Black.  She is the lady I saw in the chapel with the red hair and all dressed up.  She introduced herself as Mae Black from way back.  She told the girls a saying and made them repeat it with her.  She said “I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed.” We played a few songs.  We all sang Amazing grace and every single person young and old sang it together.  Tears filled the room.  There was a moment in time where age disappeared.  What a beautiful moment.

When we left that morning they forgot the song books so we ran out of things to sing. Scott drove back to get it.  While we were waiting the kids read some articles from the newspaper to them, everyone liked the horoscopes. The kids acted out different people and things as the residents guessed.  They would say guess who I am?  One was I am a lady that stands taller than everyone else.  I hold a torch and I live in New York and they would guess the Statue of Liberty.  They did this until Scott returned with the music book.  We sang a few more songs and then had to pack up because it was almost time for lunch.  Now it was time for our service project.  We were to dig some ditches for gutter drain extensions and then cover them up again.  It was hard work but everyone put their all in it.

When we finished it was time to say our goodbyes.  We went around saying goodbye to our new found friends.  There were many tears, many hugs, and well wishes.  I will be forever changed by those I met there.  Even though many have been left there and forgotten I will never forget.  With each person I met and each conversation I had, even the ones where I was the only one talking, God showed me that He knows everyone’s name and even though we may be alone we are never truly alone.  God’s is with us everywhere we go and sees our tears and hears our prayers. Weather we can talk or if only in our heart.  We are called to be a light to all and show the love of Jesus to all we meet.  The one thing I found amazing is when God’s name was mentioned through music or just by saying his name sparks of life were shown in those who once seemed lifeless.  Like Marie all she wanted was to lift her arms to praise Jesus.  I want to be like that.  I want to give my all to praise Jesus.  Sometimes all of us need help lifting our own arms to praise Him.  We need support and encouragement. We were not meant to be alone.  We all need someone to love us, to pray for us, and maybe just to sit with us holding our hands as we feel the love of God together like Sally.  I am thankful that God allowed me to have a change of heart and to be able to have a love for those left behind to die alone.  Let us not forget that young or old we all need to be loved and shown the love of God.


  1. Hello--I happened upon your post when looking for info about St Louis. I was very moved by this post, more than I have been in a long while. Even though I am agnostic. It was a pleasure to read about how your belief helped you and these elderly souls to connect. I really enjoyed your writing, I hope you keep it up. Take care from Seattle, WA.

  2. Thank you, your comment means a lot. I know that the trip changed my heart.