Imagine that you just had an operation on your leg at the hospital of hope. You’ve been discharged, but you still need an antibiotic injection every day plus dressing changes every few days. All this has to be done at the hospital, but you live in village thirty miles away, and your family only owns one bicycle.
That’s why we have the cuisine.
This is the perfect place for patients like this who are not hospitalized but still need to have close access to care. Cuisine translated means “kitchen” and gets its name from the women who cook over open fires outside for their families and sick relatives as they stay there. The cuisine is basically a large barn-like structure with partitions inside to allow the people and families staying there some privacy and personal space. Everything else is done in community. In fact, walking through the cuisine is like walking through a colony of sick people and their families who have been there months and have really gotten to know each other.
A missionary wife goes there almost every day to take part in this community. She knows the patients by name, knows their stories, and knows their family members. She carries a bag with the Jesus film, some Christian tracts in french, coloring books, and this hilarious little chicken toy that makes everyone – even the grown men – laugh.
As her husband who is a surgeon makes his rounds, she makes her rounds in the cuisine. She visits each person and their family individually, checks up on them, converses with them, makes them smile, and sometimes prays with them. The people love and expect her visits so much that if misses a single day, everyone wonders where she is and asks if she is well. She loves them well, and they love her in return.
“I always say, you hospital people get to do the work, and I get to have all the fun.”
But her fun is very important work. Relationships and community are the most important things in this west African culture, and visiting people is how you build relationships and communicate value. What happens in the hospital would not matter if she wasn’t out there in the cuisine, learning names and building relationships and being a consistent friend who talks about Jesus and prays.
She’s not medical but her job is just as important if not more. She is not the surgeon’s hand or the doctor’s eye or the nurse’s foot, but she is the loving heart and the encouraging mouth. Together, we make a whole body, and the body is made up of many members who each play an important part. No individual member can function without being attached to the rest. In the same way, the cuisine is not just an outlying building to support the hospital, it may very well be the heartbeat.
Never despise your role in the body of Christ. Don’t beat yourself down by being jealous of the mouth when you are the foot or the hand when you are the ear. The body needs you to function healthily. We need you; we need your gifts and your strengths and your willingness to serve in the capacity that God created you to serve. So attach yourself to the body, which is the church, and to the head, which is Christ, and have fun playing the part you’ve been given to play.
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