Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Carrying each other’s burdens

In our Caring for the Caregiver program, my psychologist friend tried to illustrate to the caregivers how important it is that we learn to carry each other’s burdens. One has to realise that the caregivers are not professional nurses. They have a very basic knowledge on what to do and have to learn through experience and through continued training. Furthermore, they bond with the patients whom they are caring for and each time when a patient dies, they literally go through the trauma of losing a beloved. And to put this in context: at Dwaleni, the place where we started with our Home-Based Caring project and where we have 45 caregivers working, three of the group’s patients died last week. This was not exceptional. This is the rule! It happens every week. Playing around with statistics, it would mean that at least 150 patients will die during the course of the year which means that each of these caregivers are going to go through the trauma of loss through death at least three to four times this year!
To illustrate how we have to carry each other’s burdens, she asked three of the caregivers to come and stand in front of the group. She then asked them to raise their arms until they were horizontal and to keep them there. She then asked the centre person whether she would be willing to take an empty cup in each hand, which she agreed to do. After a few seconds she asked whether she could put a lightweight jacket on her arm, to which she agreed. The psychologist kept on adding these light items to her arms. It wasn’t long before the caregiver started to groan. Although the weight of each individual item was so small that it was fairly easy to keep her arms up, the combined weight started showing on her face. But the illustration went further, because the other two people, although they had no added weight on their arms, also became tired and their arms started dropping. When the centre woman was asked if another item could be added, she bluntly refused! At that moment the other two women were told to move in right next to her, as close as possible, and by putting their arms on each others shoulders, they were able to support each other – with the emphasis on each other, because not only was the burden of the centre woman spread over the combination of three people, but the burden of the two women on the outside was now also being shared by the one in the centre and they were able to stand like this for a long time without suffering too much.
Could it mean then, when Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2 to carry each other’s burdens, that not only will the burden of the person carrying the heaviest load be lightened, but that the relative light burden which I may have will also be lightened, when I opt to help carry that person’s heavy burden?

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - Posted by | HIV & AIDS, Mission

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