“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” Psalm 71:9 NIV
As small kids need love and care, so does our elderly. They are in a delicate stage of life in which they should substantially enjoy, for none is aware of the time when God will take the breath of life from them.
We should remember who they were in the earlier part of their lives. Weren’t they the ones who worked hard and sacrificed so much for their children? They set aside their personal goals to give way to what will be beneficial for them. They endured life’s challenges to give their children a brighter future. They struggled yet they persevered, and went on raising their beloved families.
However, the vigor of their physical bodies slowly withered with time. It is then our chance to carry that responsibility our elders once held dearly in their hands and give back the care and love they deserve. Sadly, this isn’t the option everyone takes. There are instances where their own family deliberately desert them, reasoning out the lack of time to look after them. How heart-wrenching!
When was the last time?
Nuttha Family Home Care is a private old age home which houses elders who have no family or have been abandoned by their families. After the Sabbath divine service on 17th November 2018, we visited this two-storey building located in Bangkok. With great enthusiasm felt by each member, we skipped lunch and proceeded to catch the time arranged by the homecare management.
Behold, the eager faces of the elders which greeted us simply satisfied the hunger we felt in our empty stomachs. The joy we felt was fulfilling, and it was indeed a life-changing visit. We went in the receiving area to interact with some elders who can move using wheelchairs. Some of them relied on the comfort of their beds as they were unable to move. What a touching moment to see their eyes beaming with curiosity!
I myself am curious about their way of living. When was the last time they saw visitors? When was the last time they went outside their home care? When was the last time they saw buses and skytrains? When was the last time they saw children reminding them of their days? I don’t have the answers. But I knew the look in their eyes made us happy.
As we started singing sweet religious Thai songs, one of the elderly women suddenly started crying uncontrollably. The message of the song must have touched her. Whatever she was feeling at that moment, we felt it as well. We felt the pain and the loneliness. These elders are going to spend the rest of their lives away from their homes; neglected by the children they once cared for.
God needs you to hug them for Him
After rendering two Thai songs came the exciting part of the visit- the hugging moments. We were able to hug them one by one, allowing God’s love and care to physically touch them. We wanted to do more, such as have heart-to-heart talks with them but unfortunately we are unable to speak Thai fluently and none of them speaks English too. But I felt that the sweet smiles, hugs, soft pats and body gestures sent a message they will understand.
We went to the second floor, and sang songs for those who were lying on their beds. One of them even started recording our songs. We had some precious time chatting with them, because one elder can speak a little English and he excitedly showed some of his photos during his younger age. We went on from room to room to offer them hugs and words of encouragement. We prayed for them and made sure each received the religious pamphlets which were translated in Thai.
Not all of us can give our older brothers and sisters a visit, but please keep them in your prayers that they may find comfort from the word of God and that they may see Him through the people who are visiting or taking care of them everyday. Let us also pray for the staff of Nuttha Family Home Care.
They too are a blessing
Old age is not easy. Isolation, loneliness and boredom are the most common issues among elderly which is compounded by mobility issues too. We have to care of them and to personally look after their needs. Caring for our aging parents should be our top priority no matter how busy our schedules are. After all, if we will be given longer years to live, we are headed in the same direction.
As we prepared to leave Nutta Family Home Care, we looked at the elders once more, offering silent prayers that God will heal any pain they feel in their hearts and that they may endure their struggles. May they feel more blessed as more days are added to their lives.
The visit is indeed a life-changing experience. Whether or not the elders are aware of it, God speaks to us through them. It’s a wakeup call for everyone. It made me think, “How’s our parents back home?”