She has a wound on her leg. It is covered in white gauze, taped around the edges. She sat in front of me on a plastic chair.
My job was to run the mesa final - the final table. Most of the time we had a little charla or conversation as a group. The first activity was to go over a few educational papers which we gave out to every family: a rehydration solution recipe to help when someone has severe vomiting or diarrhea, suggestions for home remedies for constipation and stomach problems, a page about the difference between a cold and the flu, and coloring pages for kids about keeping themselves and the earth clean. Then we went over the contents of the family kits which we had assembled for each head of household. Basics: toothbrushes and toothpaste, bandages, gauze, alcohol wipes, eye drops, adult acetaminophen and a few crayons. "Do you have children or youth living in your home?" If so, I added a second package of acetaminophen or a bottle of liquid acetaminophen - dispensed by making little marks on the dosing cup according to the weights of the children. Finally, I asked each person if he or she has any questions about any of the medications we may have given them or what the doctors may have told them. Many did have questions, seeking clarification about the uses of pain medication or eye drops or vitamins.
About 50% of the adults who came to my table could not read. We included a little line item on the registration form we use so that in every healing station we can adapt what we are doing based on literacy. For each person who cannot read, I asked "Is there someone in your home who can read?" Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Then we went over the education pages and I drew little pictures. I drew calendars for taking medications in the morning and at night, sometimes making little check boxes so that people with infections could more easily remember to take their antibiotics or remember if they had already taken them. We ended each little conversation with hugs and kisses and blessings.
Near the end of the day, Pastor Martir brought Maria de los Angeles to my table. She was limping badly, barely able to put weight on the leg with the large white dressing. "Do you have any canes?" Pastor Martir asked. Maria sat down in a plastic chair.
"No," I replied, "but maybe we can put something around her leg to make it more stable." We talked for a little while about her medications and the family kit. Then the nurses found a large Ace wrap, and carefully wound it around Maria's leg. Below the dressing, I could see that her leg was turning dark. I thought, "a dressing and an Ace wrap are not going to be enough." Pastor Martir knew this too.
Maria come back the next day to spend additional time in the spiritual healing station. I walked over to where she was sitting on a bench next to the curtain that divided the spiritual area from the pharmacy, the reflexology area and the mesa final. "How are you doing today?" I asked.
"Much better," Maria said. She started to unwind the Ace wrap, and though I told her that she did not need to show me her wound, she continued. It was a large ulcer, weeping with no skin at all and edges that did not look like they would heal. Poor circulation due to untreated illness turned a little injury into a horrific ulcer. We had seen this before, more than once.
Earlier that morning, I remembered the story of Antonio. He had received a miracle healing through prayer following his participation in a Mission of Healing. Sitting next to Maria of the Angels, I held her hand and told her the story. "We will pray for you," I said, "knowing God will do something, we don't know what, but something."
Please take a moment today, and tomorrow, and whenever you think of it, to say the name Maria de los Angeles - Mary of the Angels - with faith that God will somehow touch her life with a healing hand.