• March 23, 2015

Ecuador: Friendship, the best nurse!

Ernesto making kids laugh

by Brittany Koepke, on mis­sion in Ecuador

“Our friend­ship with Ernesto is a new one that has recently blos­somed. Ernesto’s family told us he is deaf and mute. He can hear, though, if you speak loudly and he can speak well enough to com­mu­ni­cate. He is 38 years old and weighs less than 80 pounds as he suf­fers from severely advanced tuber­cu­losis. Up until recently, our only con­tact with Ernesto was greeting in the street as we passed by. We would ask how he is doing and he would always give me a thumbs up or thumbs down to indi­cate how he felt. But a month ago, he knocked on our door and we invited him in. Since that day Ernesto has been coming to our home sev­eral times a day. He never asks for any­thing. We offer him a cup of tea or bread, but he does not usu­ally accept any­thing either. Ernesto comes to …just be with us. I played Rummy with him the other day (and he beat me.) Afterwards, he stayed to pray the rosary and we ended up giving him a rosary of his own. Now he comes every day at 3 p.m. with his gifted rosary in hand ready to pray with us. Occasionally, he joins us for ado­ra­tion and mass.

I was recently really touched by my encounter with Ernesto. He knocked on our door around 10 a.m. When I opened the door he imme­di­ately opened his hand to show me his med­i­ca­tions. At first, I was con­fused why he brought his pills to our house for me to see. I asked if he wanted water to take his pills or if he was lacking more med­i­ca­tions. But he shook his head no. And as I stood there trying to figure out why he came here with his meds and why he was curi­ously smiling, it dawned on me that he has not always taken care of him­self and he wanted to show me that now he is trying. He knew we would be happy to know he filled his pre­scrip­tion and is trying to get better. As soon as I said “Ernesto, I’m so happy you have your medicine. I’m glad you are taking them so you can feel better,” it was as if that was all he wanted to hear. He shook his head up and down and smiled broadly. Then he waved goodbye. “Chau, Ernesto.”

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