In philosophy, one of the three sources of reflection is curiosity. Man is an infinitely open being, always aspiring to discover and understand, and never being satisfied.
I am no exception and always ask questions. But, like most other people, I readily accept statements of prejudice, agree with the experiences I observe, gain knowledge from others and from books, and support the opinions of the crowd. without a correct base. I see them as the truth. As Nathanael said to Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
I was voluntarily assigned to a hospital for Covid-19 patients in the most serious condition. At first, I was a little curious because of the knowledge I had before setting foot in the hospital. In my mind, the field hospital was no good; it was a place full of pain and tears, no one wants to come in but everyone – whether patients or medical staff – wants to get out as quickly as possible. I imagined a dark image woven of dark, deadly colors.
But after four days of observing, working with others, and serving patients, I saw different colors in the picture of the disease.
Although the danger, suffering, grief and trials are real, this place is full of delightful stories. While I was talking with a patient named Hoai, she handed me a piece of paper with her beloved son’s scribbled handwriting on it. I read it and thought he was a wonderful son. He wrote to his mother, “You should try to get medical treatment and not worry about anything. I can handle everything at home. Just call me.
I helped her call him and found their conversation heartwarming and moving. They showed me how wonderful motherhood is and reminded me that I miss my parents terribly.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I made my way to the next room where I found the wonderful and upbeat patients.
I also met another patient who is the father of three children. He said he hoped to get better soon to return to his wife and children who were waiting at home for him. He proudly spoke of his children’s stories.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I walked to the next room where I found the wonderful and optimistic patients. A middle-aged man asked me to open the window. He said that even though he is inside the four walls, he exercises regularly daily, soaks in hot water for 30 minutes, tries to eat well because he wants to recover from his illness quickly. and relieve the burden on physicians and volunteers.
He taught me this great lesson: Adversity can be a problem for one person but an opportunity for another. He showed me that whatever the situation, we need to exercise, do our best, and be positive. After dinner he was transferred to another ward for less severe patients and in a few days he will be released from the hospital.
Patients like him help relieve stress for hospital staff. I see blissful smiles in those patients who gently smile with the love of sharing and mutual support between them. Doctors and nurses also tell me to try to give patients what they need.
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The patients themselves also teach me lessons about sharing love. When a patient asked for plain milk I went out and couldn’t find it, but luckily another patient in another room had some and told me to give it to the others. Many patients openly boast about receiving milk, medicine, and fruit from people they don’t know.
I also recognize the great dedication and sacrifice made by caregivers and volunteers. Many female students, under my observation, weigh around 40 kilograms but regularly work remotely during their shifts. They have little time to rest.
I really admire them because the enormous amount of work is backbreaking, including collecting garbage, changing patients’ clothes, undressing beds, emptying toilet bowls, cleaning facilities and much more. .
At the end of each of our shifts, our faces turn dark and our throats are bitter. The sisters have the same exhausting work as the male staff because the patients are in serious condition. They show tremendous dedication to patients and caregivers with real joy.
I also see caregivers with sweet smiles on their faces. The volunteers, especially the sisters and brothers who work with us, always smile and talk enthusiastically to each other and to the patients.
We are encouraged to make patients feel comfortable spending time being and talking with them as they are completely alone and isolated in the hospital, and they truly seek our presence. One day, as I went to a room and informed the patients about lunch, one of them exclaimed, “Here are the angels in white! I also hear patients telling their loved ones over the phone that they feel quite relieved here because they are being cared for by those who are dressed in white like angels.
I see the presence of God in the sick, especially religious volunteers and lay people
The word “angels” reminds me of Jesus saying to Nathanael, “You will see the heavens open, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man.”
Now I really feel like love itself brings what seems deadly to life. God is present at the very center of this life through people sharing the gift of love with one another, and through her I discover vast treasures in sweat beads, charming smiles in every tear, the Kingdom of God in the dry land, greatness in every little thing, and glory in humility.
I have seen and experienced, but I know that I can see greater things when I know how to look into the eyes of the faithful with a loving heart as Jesus affirmed to Nathanael that “you will see greater things than this”.
I see the presence of God in the sick, especially religious volunteers and lay people. A sister told me that she is not so bored because she has a rosary with her and knows that Mother Mary and God are always with her. A layman told me that he is at peace because he regularly recites the Hail Mary.
I see God still working in this hospital, where the deputy director announced that priests and religious volunteers have not yet been infected with Covid-19. God is always there to protect, love and support people in their most difficult times. God will have his own way because he can draw straight lines through the curves of our life.
Hoan Pham is a member of the Vietnam Missionary Society. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article posted on hdgmvietnam.com here.