“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” –Isaiah 61:10
Garments of Salvation…robes of righteousness; today those garments looked like colorful West African fabric dresses and head wraps and vibrant jewelry adorning women who for so long have felt ugly and dirty, but today looked utterly radiant! Today was the first “Dress Ceremony” in the wards for the ladies with obstetric fistulas. I don’t pretend to have extensive medical knowledge, but I have picked up a few things living in a hospital. This condition is basically a hole that is caused by prolonged and difficult childbirth, most often where the baby dies…so we’re looking at intensely long childbirth, then giving birth to a baby that is already dead, and then having damage in your body from the childbirth so that you constantly leak urine, which results in being shunned by family and friends because you’re always seen as smelly and dirty.
I can’t imagine. I don’t want to imagine.
This is the everyday reality for these ladies, but today we celebrated three such ladies leaving behind that life for a brand new one! They came to the ship, had surgery, and are now clean and healed. Today, they didn’t just stand up in front of the crowd to give testimonies to their healing and God’s goodness with healed and whole bodies, they stood up there dressed as royalty…the royalty that they truly are as daughters of the King of Kings! After their surgery they are given beautiful, colorful dresses, head wraps, necklaces, earrings, everything Mercy Ships can do to help them shed the idea that they are broken, dirty, unlovely and leave them in no doubt of their beauty, value, and radiance.
As each lady stood up and gave her testimony…stories of attempted and failed surgeries, of leaking urine constantly for the past nineteen years…tears began to flow from the ladies and from those of us listening as well. Every single one of the ladies at some point in her attempt to give thanks to the doctors and to God, eventually just said there were no words to express such thankfulness and started singing! Every one of them! No words could express the amount of joy and thankfulness flowing from their hearts, but somehow adding a melody got them just a bit closer!
What a lovely expression of gratitude. The doctor who performed their surgeries got up and prayed over the ladies as each was given a bag filled with things to remind her of her own beauty and God’s beauty – soap, lotion, a mirror, and a Bible. This morning we were all wrapped so comfortingly and beautifully in robes of righteousness and garments of salvation…and we just had to dance!
|The ladies got to come in dancing and leave dancing down the hall! It was a parade!|