Hospital Visits That Nurture the Soul
If you’re in the U.S. and need to stay in the hospital, while you may not look forward to staying, at least you know it’s a safe place to heal and recover. That experience is much different in Cuba. Many non-medical caregiving tasks fall on a family member, such as changing bedpans or bathing, whereas nurses and hospital staff perform these duties in the states. Also, there’s no cafeteria, so no food is offered onsite like in the U.S. In Cuba, families must prepare and bring in meals to nourish their loved ones.
Often, hospitals lack the medication or equipment to treat patients properly. Continued shortages of syringes, IV kits, and other necessary medical supplies make it difficult to receive treatment. You can also become exposed to other illnesses due to the unsanitary conditions at the hospital. If you’re from another country and need to go to the hospital, you would seek treatment and care at a special hospital. However, Cubans receive medical attention at another hospital.
Visiting someone in the hospital or receiving a visitor is challenging because hospitals restrict visitors, leaving many incredibly lonely. Those that can visit bravely face the unsanitary conditions to see a loved one. So anytime a visitor comes, it’s an honor. With so many people in need, several amazing ministries provide pastoral care to those in the hospital.
First, meet pastor Juan Ramon de la Rosa. One day, Juan was invited to pray for patients and their families at the children’s hospital. That one visit turned into a team of six people who visit and pray with ten to fifteen children and their families twice a week at the hospital. Of course, that’s when they can get access. Juan’s wife is a nurse and helps them, but occasionally the hospital won’t allow them to visit. So, they dress up as staff and visit at night to pray with families.
During hospital visits, sometimes, they wear clown costumes to bring smiles and joy to the children they see. As another piece of the ministry, Juan created a WhatsApp group to support mothers of children in the hospital. It allows them to stay connected and pray for one another. Also, the ministry team and church members donate blood when they can, but donations can only be given when a supply of needles, bags, and tubes is available to draw blood.
Now, meet Yanaisy, a pastor’s wife. She makes hospital visits to bring the healing power of Christ to those who are sick, and their church helps provide meals and personal hygiene products. When Yanaisy’s son Caleb was ill, the support and prayer she received helped her find peace and comfort, and the food and resources allowed them to stay at the hospital to care for Caleb. Now, it’s important for Yanaisy to offer that same support to others.
On visits, she shares the love of God and offers encouragement, letting them know they are not alone. Yanaisy is incredibly humbled to see the gratitude reflected on their faces and to make a difference. For example, at a visit, she assisted a woman with giving birth and encouraged her along the way. The support strengthened the woman’s marriage and her commitment to God.
Finally, meet pastor Ariel and his wife, Ana. They often travel to visit those in the hospital to pray with patients and families, encourage them, and provide Bibles. For example, Ariel and Ana lost a young nephew recently. They prayed with the family and encouraged them with the Gospel and continued praying outside the hospital when they could not get in. Ariel and Ana consider hospital visits one of their most important missions, and sometimes they impact more than just the family. During a recent hospital visit, they met a mother and her five-year-old son. He’s connected to a ventilator and has never left the hospital. They prayed with them and gave encouragement to the family. Many doctors and nurses heard their prayers and the Word of God that day.
On previous mission trips, we have brought BP cuffs, over-the-counter medications, pulse oximeters, thermometers, and other items. For our next trip, Atulado is gathering more medical supplies. We plan to take items like syringes, IV kits, and sutures to support these ministries and others. That way, we can be by the side of those who bring hope and share the Word of God with people during a difficult time.