Sunday, 11 August 2013

Let the little children come

This picture is of a precious little girl who can be seen most days running around the hospital compound as her mother is one of our cleaners. She is such a cutie! And very bright too. She now associates me with my iPad mini, which I carry everywhere with me (since it contains most of my medical references such as UpToDate) and always asks to see the photos on it and has already learned to swipe to get to the next pic! Mind you, this is on the background of most people here having never seen a computer or a camera.

Kids can be found in abundance here. In fact, I recently met a patient who was surprisingly distraught over the revelation that she was 17 weeks pregnant. She kept repeating, 'No, I'm not pregnant. I cannot be pregnant!' in spite of my showing her on ultrasound that there was clearly a baby in her womb and his or her heart was beating along at a happy pace. With further probing, it appeared that she was so upset because she was currently breastfeeding her second child (a nine-month-old girl who, incidentally, I later found out was an inpatient in our ward suffering from malaria) who was also conceived while she was breastfeeding her first one! So much for lactation as a form (really, the only version here) of contraception.

But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19:14). Expanding in Mark 10:15 that "whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" and in Luke 9:48 that "whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great."

It has often puzzled me what He meant by "receiving the kingdom of God as a little child". Did He mean in innocent wonder? Open acceptance? Trusting credulity? All of these and more? I haven't been a child for a while now (although my parents still treat me as one!) and I don't have one of my own so feel free to leave any thoughts or comments on this point. For now, I guess I will have to study these little ones and attempt to discern the difference between childlike and childish faith :)

P.S. To my amazement, I discovered that the little girl's hair was NOT held up with any hair tie or band; apparently, the hair fibres of the Africans here are stiff enough that when braided, will hold together of their own volition! Pretty crazy, hey?

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