Imagine yourself waking one morning and your fingers have begun to curl up into themselves. You try to straighten them, but you can't.
You don't understand. Finally you go to the doctor and seek his help.
"You have leprosy."
Miguel is 57 years old and was diagnosed with leprosy in October when his fingers began to curl and he couldn't straighten them.
We met Miguel last week. He is one of three new patients/residents to arrive since we were last here (in the Dominican Republic) in October.
He seems like a humble man. He seems happy to meet us when we arrive. A nice looking man, other than his hands, there is no visible evidence that anything is wrong with him.
Miguel is Dominican, from Elias Pina, near the Haitian border. He was in agriculture. He has three children. He no longer sees them. They live hours away from Nigua.
It is obvious he has not come to grips with his diagnosis.
We gather around him to talk. When the conversation turns from him we see his obsession with trying to uncurl his fingers. He rubs them on his arm. He takes them with the bent fingers of the opposite hand and tries to pull them straight. He taps his wrists; trying to feel them I suppose.
The tip of one of his thumbs is missing at the knuckle. He tells us he sawed it off with a knife when it wouldn't heal. He thought it was a sugar problem. He didn't realize at the time he had leprosy. I can't imagine!
Miguel's is a case of not being diagnosed before life-changing damage is done. The cure is available, but for Miguel the need for the cure wasn't discovered in time.
THE COLLEGE MISSION TEAM ARRIVED
Saturday is a blessing. Arriving at the leprocomio (Spanish for a hospital for leprosy patients), the team of 8 Shandon College Ministry students immediately begins the process of meeting the patients. Our team of Abigail, Allie, Averi, Emily, Madison, Andrew, David, and Tristan meet and engage them in conversations and activity.
What a joy for me to see the excitement in the eyes of so many of the residents. The new patients are treated to the friendly, loving faces of the team, as are all the residents. It is easy to see how blessed the residents here are from the love the team shows.
I ask your prayers for Miguel. Pray that he will be able to cope with his recent diagnosis. Pray for his family and situation. Pray that he will find comfort in Christ and pray that we will find the right words to say to share the glory and strength we find in Christ as Christians.
Continue to pray for the college mission team as they serve with us this week.