Learning about love and patience while helping the sick


Robert Koch, a German microbiologist, announced his discovery of the tuberculosis pathogen on March 24, 1882. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1905, and the WHO declared March 24 the World TB Day in 1993. This terrible disease is responsible for 1.6 million deaths annually.
The State Institution “The National Applied Research Centre of Pulmonology and Physiatry” was opened in our city on August 21, 1928. Our sisters of mercy carry out their obedience in this place. Today we talk with one of them.
Sister Lubov, can you tell us about your obedience?
I started visiting the patients of the Center five years ago. Generally, the people who suffer from this illness come from the socially vulnerable groups of our population. Many of them have difficult fates: alcohol addicts, homeless, disappointed in life, offended... They find it hard to believe in God’s mercy. Some are so irritated that they do not only insult a sister of mercy but can even throw something at her. I have had a firsthand experience of this: one of the patients threw an empty can at me. However, such accidents cannot stop us in carrying out our obedience. I recall how one man disliked me to such an extent that he would literally push me out of his ward. So one day I came to him, bent over, and said, “Please forgive me for annoying you... I see that you lose your temper because of me.” He softened a little, and then we even became friends! It turned out that he was a believer of some kind: he even carried an icon with him. So the fact that these people are so unfriendly may be caused by their pain, fears, and sorrows, and we must always bear this in mind.
It is great to have a chapel in honor of St Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) on the territory of the Center. We petitioned for it for over five years! Finally, our Father Andrew blessed us to gather signatures for this chapel. That was when the project started to move forward. You know, we were surprised to have gathered many signatures of the patients of the Centre in support of the construction, and even from those whom I had never expected to do so. A person who had appeared to be absolutely indifferent to the matters of faith would suddenly say, “Of course, I'll sign your petition! It is very important for the patients to have the place to pray!” When we started to hold molebens in this chapel, and when these people got the opportunity to confess and take communion, the atmosphere immediately changed. Many people turned to God and became practicing Christians. Those who were especially fond of the Orthodox faith were put in charge of the chapel, and they started to feel their responsibility and started to live in a different way. This was the beginning of their spiritual life...

Can you give us some examples?
There was a boy whose name was Dima. He was very young, he had just turned twenty. He believed in Christ with all his heart and became a practicing Christian. He was put in charge of the chapel. He was so zealous in prayer that he would sometimes even sleep in the chapel on a pew. He did not want to return to the ward... This was a striking example of a person changing so drastically! Maybe they even laughed at him, saying he must have gone insane. An unbeliever cannot understand these changes. Many people think that a new believer lost his sanity whereas in fact he came to his senses! He simply took a sober look at his life and saw its deep meaning!
Dima took a vow. He told God that he was ready to sacrifice his own life for his parents to turn to God... Soon this boy reposed in the Lord. He passed away as a devout Christian.
Sister Lubov, why did you start visiting this place?
Thing is, I was here as a patient a couple of times. So I know this suffering firsthand. I got ill with TB in 2005... As soon as I was discharged from the
hospital, I was thinking that I would never in my life come back again! You see, I hated even the ubiquitous smell of antiseptics! However, God's will is above all... In the meantime I took the blessing to begin my obedience here. Now I visit the patients of this center every week. Surprisingly enough, almost all the sisters who have their obedience in the TB center, used to be its patients like me! Only Leah (Sister Leah Chekan reposed in the Lord on February 25, 2014) never got ill with this disease. God has His plans for each one of us!

When our interview was over, Sister Lubov shared some good news with us: one of the patients of the center had asked her to get information about the possibility of employment at one of the Convents workshops. Sounds pretty normal, doesn't it? The person is looking for a job, so what? However, the fact that he hopes to find the job in the Convent is a small yet significant victory!

By Natallia Klimovav from the Stories of the Sisterhood


CONVERSATION

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