A fresh fruit platter in your hands may be a regular enjoyable part of a meal. Placed in the hands of a patient in the People Living with Aids ward in Port Moresby General Hospital, it is a luxury.
It is six am on a week day morning. We are standing outside Port Moresby hospital with our Operation Food for Life (OFFL) volunteers, preparing for our regular visit to minister to the patients.
Since the early hours of the morning, PNG directors of OFFL have been peeling and washing fruit, making fruit platters in preparation for our visit.
Operation Food for Life is the only organisation which is permitted to do this ministry in the ward.
Following prayer, we make our way to the ward via a number of ramps within the hospital pushing a fully loaded trolley which includes the breakfast fruit platter for our ‘special friends’.
As we make our way to the ward, our thoughts are directed to the high responsibility each one of us has been called to do. We witness to the patients, and in some cases, their families at bedside vigil with their loved ones.
The doors to the ward open. The nursing unit manager has been expecting us.
OFFL volunteers are well known and respected by the hospital administration staff and nurses.
As we cast our eyes to the hospital beds we note the ward is full…. as always, patients in all age groups from babies to the elderly.
Nurses are completing their early morning rounds, one washing a patient, while another is hovering over a patient providing medication.
The echoes of patients coughing is an all too familiar sound, symptomatic of the patient’s condition.
Phillip Vaki, OFFL PNG Director of Operations, now breaks the silence in the ward by announcing, ‘we come in the name of Jesus’. We then proceed to provide a fresh fruit platter to the patients and families at their bedside and we offer to pray with the seventy plus patients individually.
The nurses are back at their nursing station. We are now positioned at our ‘action stations’. We soon discover, when speaking with patients and families, a number of the patients have tuberculosis.
Over the next two hours prayers at bedsides are heavenward bound. Patients hope and dignity is being restored.
It is time to depart to make way for the doctors to do their rounds. Before we leave, we notice something is dramatically different in the ward, than when we arrived much earlier.
The ward is now noticeably, prayer-conditioned!
Dennis Perry-Operation Food for Life