Care and Compassion for a Neighbor in Need

This month the SEA Regional Team is hosting 3 students from the Institute for G.O.D. International for a 5-week immersion experience at Tahanan. Immersion students are given the opportunity to learn the culture, language, and daily life of the native people. The students are expected to not only apply the biblical teachings they’ve received but also demonstrate a working knowledge of a specific skill being studied at the Institute.

Written By Amanda Byrd, Institute Student and Immersion Participant

Many elderly people who live in the rural Philippines have little to no access to proper health care. Unless someone visits them, or a family member lives nearby, their condition often deteriorates very quickly due to isolation and lack of care.

Many elderly people who live in the rural Philippines have little to no access to proper health care. Unless someone visits them, or a family member lives nearby, their condition often deteriorates very quickly due to isolation and lack of care.

This week I visited a widow, a dear friend of our ministry personnel. My teammate Darbie and I, along with our regional team cooperatives, Irish and Rina, visited Nanay (“Mother”) Conching because we heard she was sick with a cough. We brought her a meal and medicine, and visited with her grandchildren. Nanay Conching is a very sweet lady and her health is a necessity as she is the sole caretaker for her two grandchildren. I felt the Lord near during the whole visit, filling us all with sensitivity and compassion, and I walked away with a greater calling in my heart to grow in my health care skills in order to help those in need.

Upon arriving at her home, Rina offered Nanay Conching ginger tea and I began to examine her health by taking vitals and asking questions. I found she had a fever, and after listening to her lungs and asking some questions, I realized she was congested to the point where she was having a hard time breathing and her oxygen level was low. This type of condition, especially among the elderly and feeble is not uncommon in the Philippines. Immediately, I thought of what I would have done if I were at the clinic where I work in the States, and despite the lack of familiar resources on hand, God helped us care for Nanay Conching.

As I examined her, I spoke in basic Tagalog and Waray, which made all the difference in our communication and in her disposition. Rina and Irish helped translate other instructions to drink a lot of water, rest, and take specific measures to help relieve some of her chest congestion. Darbie showed Nanay Conching some breathing techniques to help her breathe better. We all treated her with care and kindness. We visited with her grandkids, fed them, made them laugh and instructed them to be helpful in their home, especially while their grandmother is sick. We will return this week to check on Nanay Conching’s health and bring her another meal.

Nanay Conching, one of the oldest widows in her barangay (neighborhood), is the primary caretaker for her two grandchildren. Ensuring she is healthy is important so our personnel makes frequent visits to her home to check in on her and the grandchildren.   

Nanay Conching, one of the oldest widows in her barangay (neighborhood), is the primary caretaker for her two grandchildren. Ensuring she is healthy is important so our personnel makes frequent visits to her home to check in on her and the grandchildren.  

This experience challenged me to learn how to best respond to health needs in a third world setting, specifically when I don’t have access to the things I do in the States. I’m thankful I saw firsthand the hospitality and care Rina shows to people on a regular basis. 

Though this visit was not part of our scheduled activities, it was important ministry. Jesus was always willing to put aside his own agenda to serve the sick and needy in front of him. Nanay Conching was sick and in need so we followed after Jesus’ example to respond with compassion - to visit, to offer a meal, to give physical touch and genuine care. She doesn’t have the opportunity or accessibility to see a doctor; not even her own family can give her the attention she needs. Though Rina will continue to visit Nanay Conching in the coming weeks and care for her, this visit was powerful to me as I witnessed our team, people who love God and seek to extend that to others, exercise care with the gifts and abilities we each possess.