Feed my sheep
Tuesday December 26th 2006, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Yesterday I opened what I think is the best Christmas present I have ever been given: this brochure, stating inside that a sheep had been donated in my name to a Third World family, in either Kenya or Haiti. Wow!

My older son, three years ago, was called by the Mormon Church to go on a mission to Haiti. He was fluent in French, but the population there speaks Haitian Creole, not quite the same, and he went to the language training center to learn to speak it. While he was at that center, revolution broke out, Aristide fled the country, the Americans were evacuated, and the Church sent him to southern Florida instead.

Which means he was there during the hurricane season that so devastated the area. The Church decided that these young men had volunteered two years of their lives to service to God by serving their fellow men, and right then, the greatest need was clearly for physical and emotional help recovering from the storms; they were told to go do whatever the Red Cross needed them to do for the time being.

Which is how he came to help cook 1,600 Salisbury steaks one windy, rainy day.

But in one particular moment, he and his missionary companion walked into the Red Cross shelter to help, mentioning they spoke Creole. He was asked to go check on a woman sitting by herself in a corner.

When she found out he spoke Creole!!! She had lost contact with her husband since evacuating. She had missed her doctor appointment for her scheduled anti-coagulant shot. She didn’t have her heart meds with her. She had a mechanical heart valve. Her son, brain-damaged by sickle cell anemia, was acting out in this strange environment, and she was at wit’s end. The Red Cross workers had queried each person coming in as to what they needed, but nobody had been able to communicate with her: she didn’t speak English, but she looked fine, so they had given up and left her alone–and her heart was going bonkers. She felt truly alone. She was at the point of giving up altogether.

As soon as she started talking, Richard grabbed a pen and was writing down what she needed and what she was saying. She got the medical attention she’d so desperately needed.

Richard was later taken aside and told he’d probably saved her life. He emailed home, and said, Mom. If I never do anything else here, I now know why I had to come here and why I had to learn this language.

While he was on his mission, I read, “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, telling what a difference one dedicated man could make to the people in, in Farmer’s case, Haiti. I read at one point how the simple gift of one egg-laying chicken gradually made one man able to sustain his family for the long term.

A sheep! My sister donated a sheep in my name! Thank you, Carolyn! To say I feel honored doesn’t begin to convey how thrilled I am. A sheep to a family in a place like that!! Christmas presents don’t get better than that.

9 Comments so far
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Neat, I’m first! That. is. AWESOME. Oh dear. Oh me oh my. The part about your son saving that lady’s life made me misty. Woweee. It just…. It’s such an odd thing, knowing that something like just being able to talk and understand can mean the difference between life and death. God bless your son and his work. 🙂 God bless you, too!

Comment by Regina 12.26.06 @ 9:52 pm

Thank you! I wrote that, and then had him go over it to make sure I got every detail correct. He read through it, tweaked a phrase or two to tell the story right (after all, he was there, I wasn’t), and then got up deeply pleased all over again at the memory of the whole thing.

Comment by AlisonH 12.26.06 @ 10:13 pm

That is completely awesome.

Hug Carolyn for us, and Richard, too.

Comment by Kristine 12.27.06 @ 3:45 am

How wonderful Alison! And what a truly thoughtful gift.

Comment by Joni 12.27.06 @ 5:53 am

As usual, you’ve put tears in my eyes and hope in my heart. Bless you, Alison!

Comment by AmyS 12.27.06 @ 7:29 am

WOW! every year I think “I am going to donate an animal to charity, and then tell my freinds that is their present” Every year I chicken out. Your pleasure at getting that is going to give me strength next year to do so.

Comment by Teresa 12.27.06 @ 10:48 am

I’m simply speachless.

Comment by Pippi 12.28.06 @ 2:42 pm

Teresa, I’ve been thinking about your comment. It might be that it’s like knitting: some people know how to be good recipients, and some might need to be helped to see why it’s a gift from the heart. That the donation of an animal is a compliment to them that you trust that they’ll be compassionate to those in need and thrilled at the gift. If you have any doubts as to the person you want to do it for, I’d throw out hints during the year to judge their reaction. And maybe get them to think a little. Because it really is such a very cool thing to do.

Comment by AlisonH 12.28.06 @ 10:03 pm

[…] son John has been on a mission for the Mormon Church for a year now. Like his brother, he’s serving in the […]

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