Reflections from Work in Egypt: The Simple Joys of Spiritual Care
by Sunny Garza, BSN RN Faith Community Nurse
Health Ministries Network's Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministries Network's Faith Community Nurses work not only in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties, but rather, they follow their call to care, compassion and love around the world.
Overview: Mobile medical clinics and mobile pharmacy held in numerous churches throughout Cairo, Egypt for ongoing spiritual nourishment and care continuity.
318 patients seen by a team of 2 Medical Doctors, 1 Nurse Practitioner, 4 RN's, 1 Physical Therapist, 1 Psychologist, plus numerous ministers and missionaries with gifts of teaching, prayer and testimony sharing.
Total team of 27 with mission to spread God's unconditional love, grace, healing and hope to the beautiful people of Egypt, including numerous Muslim refugees from Syria and Sudanese war orphans.
The Gravity of Small Gestures: It was highlighted to me how important small gestures of kindness are amidst language and cultural barriers.
The way a war refugee looked around, weeping, while being prayed over in a different language after a life tragedy, or the way a child hugged ever so tight after being gifted a warm smile and a wave creating a space of rest and safety.
The way appreciation was shown as light shining through the eyes of many patients to numerous team members who took the time to learn the Arabic phrases, “is-mik-a” (What is your name?) “esmech gamel” (beautiful name), “malapsa gameela” (beautiful dress), and “ana sayeed ini shoftic” (very nice to meet you).
Tangible healing, care, and concern were such healing agents in Egypt by prayer support, medical support and ultimately having a safe space in the mobile medical clinics for them to feel cared for. Especially after their own life traumas as well as division in these pandemic years, the gravity of the small gestures the touched the hearts and minds of all, our team included.
I was amazed at how simply sitting with them in long lines in the waiting room, despite language barriers caused so many hugs and smiles, without doing anything. At times, I get caught up in what interventions or conversation pieces I should be doing as a nurse, but this outreach showed me how impactful simply sitting with and being with are, even without words or conversation.
The Least of These. It was sacred to minister to those living around rubble, to ensure they knew they were worthy of healthcare, were valued, and important. That their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional support were important to tend to as fellow precious people made in Gods Image.
Suburb of Cairo called "Garbage City" where many Coptic Egyptian Christians are forced to live and separate garbage from recycling as a means for income. Garbage was piled throughout entire apartment complexes as well as throughout the streets.
As Health Ministers, Faith Community Nurses and the like, how sacred is this role we have been given by God to nurture souls near and far. What a privilege. What a gift. Every single encounter, every single moment of kindness is a gift steward by the hand of God.
The Egyptian Christians get a tattoo of a square cross as their label at birth, they are an oppressed minority in Cairo. Some of the team hand drew the same image with sharpie, to stand with them.
Correct name pronunciation was important to me as a triage nurse in my time with this diverse population, remembering that God knows us all by name. It was on my heart to ensure I was able to say their name correctly and really look them in the eyes, communicating to them they had immense value, despite their situations. Our hearts ached for their living conditions. The joy returned by these simple small gestures moved me. "How simple," I kept thinking.
Wondering the last time they received attentive care, eye contact, nurture, prayer, or kindness. In many of these communities, they lack running water and soap. Toilet paper is difficult to come by, because they do not earn enough for common household items. The simple gestures of kindness from the diverse team caused tangible love to radiate in the rooms. Oh how God is always with us--especially in the small moments. Despite language barriers. Despite distance. Despite poverty. Despite oppression. God's love radiates. His love took over and saturated rooms with welcome, embrace, unity, and value. Many tears were shed, some miraculous healings occurred, and the greatest miracle of all- Gods tangible love abounded.
Lori, Missionary Physical Therapist. Such a blessing to have PT available in the clinic to teach them pain alleviating exercises!
Don, Missionary Psychologist, with passion to share his message of "Biblical Psychology" and prayer for individuals. Such a blessing to have a psychologist on hand in the mobile clinics!
The Ministry of Presence is one of my favorite approaches as a Faith Community Nurse, because we can put into use the art of simply “being with.” We had the opportunity to share in God's love at a Sudanese War Refugee children's shelter, for orphans, specialized school for the hearing impaired, deaf, and war-torn traumatized children. As unimaginable as this type of trauma is, I remembered that we, as health ministers, can use creativity in activity to "be with."
Dance circle therapy with 3 field nurses. These precious Sudanese girls taught us some of their impressive traditional dance moves, and we taught them the sprinkler and some classic foot kicks!
Dressing silly and sprint racing is worth even one smile- and, of course, letting them win!
A Quote from Medical Provider, Dr. Amy Laib-
“How far would you go for just one person? Developing God's heart means being willing to leave everything to seek just one soul that is lost like He leaves the 99 sheep to search
for the one who is far from Him. How beautiful is the Shepherd's love and mercy to seek the little lost one who is far from Him!"
-Amy Laib, MD Family Practice Physician;
Medical Missionary Doctor
Thank you for reading some highlights from our time in Egypt. If you have any specific questions, or are interested in hearing more, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you all for the beautiful and impactful work you provide in your realm of influence. Every encounter and moment of kindness is precious. Thank you all for your hearts to serve.