Little Bodies, Big Hearts

Picture 1

A baby recovering at CURE Uganda

The fingers wrapped around my fingers are so little.

Little fingers that are attached to little hands and arms and bodies. There are ten tiny toes at the end of wiggling legs and two perfectly formed feet. A small but strong heartbeat resonates in the bare-skinned chest that rises and falls with my soothing strokes.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb. –Psalm 139:13

It surprises me to realize that I’ve had a desk at CURE Headquarters for almost 6 months now. I spend my days educating others about CURE’s mission to live out Luke 9:2, “Healing the sick and proclaiming the kingdom of God.” But that balmy, rain-filled Friday in Uganda was the first time my feet walked on CURE soil, a living, breathing place full of hope, life, and restoration. The lettering on the sign was familiar to my American eyes, but innately I knew there would be little else that was familiar.

Picture 2

A view of Uganda while hiking in Sipi Falls

At CURE Uganda, there are babies everywhere: babies in arms, on backs, in beds, in and out of both the ward and the operating room. It’s impossible not to see the babies. Doors swish open and closed as nurses shuttle patients and medication. Footsteps fill the mazes of brick paths and blue pillars as meals are served, laundry is done, and children are healed. I’ve seen their pictures and read their stories, but nothing could prepare me for the familiar feeling of the soft, smoother baby skin jarringly stretched to encompass the life-threatening collection of fluids. The sickness is visible. It is impossible not to see it. It is impossible not to see the babies.

Picture 3

A child recovering in intensive care at CURE Uganda

There are many parts of CURE – important parts, essential parts – that can get overlooked in the shuffle of the illness and the swollen heads, the protruding spinal growths and the cries of sunset-eyed little ones. There are so many things that demand attention that it’s easy to miss the women. They’re quiet. In fact, I rarely hear them speak. My white skin and inherently ethnocentric knowledge of languages makes its almost impossible to communicate. I know almost nothing about them. Yet, when I look at their faces, the familiar eyes of a mother stare back at me.

And they, alongside their precious little ones, are teaching me.

Picture 4

A mother tends to her son in recovery in the ICU

I had this notion of what being at a CURE Hospital would be like. I hadn’t realized how limited and colored my perceptions of CURE’s procedures were until the brick and mortar, blood and sweat realities challenged them.

CURE has exceptional stories. Tales of witchcraft, seclusion, abandonment, and pain are miraculously transformed into stories of hope, healing, and possibility through the work faithfully being done at each and every CURE hospital. But the real heartbeat of CURE’s mission isn’t found in the exceptional stories alone.

To not slow down and see the beauty and the power that is so vastly present in the ordinary here would be entirely missing the point.

Picture 5

Laundry drying in the breeze at CURE Uganda

It’s the mothers who tirelessly rock babies with heavy heads long after their arms have fallen asleep and their backs ache, the women who roll out of their own bed to tend to their neighbor’s child as it cries.

Picture 6

A mother comforts her baby outside the patient ward

It’s the wiping of the bottoms, the washing of the sheets, the endless feedings and checkups, the strength of the heart behind the arms that hand their own flesh and blood off into the unknowns of surgery with the hope of something more, the promise of something better.

Picture 7

A mother bathing her daughter at CURE Uganda

It’s the nurses who stay hours after their shift has ended just to be with the patients, the staff members who pause to pray for each and every baby before carrying them into the operating theater.

Picture 8

Doctors and nurses at CURE Uganda

It’s the pursuit of daily excellence from each staff member, whether nurses or groundskeepers, cooks or neurosurgeons.

Picture 9

Learning with Justine, a full-time cook at CURE Uganda

It’s a quiet, resounding strength.

Much like the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, where the voice of God is heard after the fire and the earthquake as a gentle whisper, the beauty and the power of CURE is not found in the extraordinary alone.

It’s in seeing a group of imperfect people, with flawed hearts and limited knowledge, who make the daily decision of difficult obedience and tiresome service in the healing of bodies and souls, that I am able to look at CURE Uganda and see the unabashedly humble and overwhelmingly glorious face of Jesus.

Picture 10

A mother and son preparing to embark on their journey home

“Let the little children come unto me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Photo of the Jess Johns

About the Author:

Jess served as CURE's Global Outreach Coordinator, a liaison between each CURE hospital and the amazing people around the world who volunteer to go and help our staff heal kids. In January 2015, Jess left CURE to serve as a missionary in Mbale, Uganda.