Stephanie Summa is a physician’s assistant from New York. She has been volunteering in Zambia at the Mwandi Mission Hospital for over a year. In the reflection below, she describes the importance of doing every act with love.

I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. – John 13:15

It’s spa day (yes, you read that correctly)! We may be in rural Zambia, but that poses no barriers for pedicures and manicures! After all, the residents at Mwandi’s old folks home – Kandiana – deserve a little pampering.

Getting Ready for Manicures with Catherine and Sambi

Getting Ready for Manicures by Catherine and Sambi.

The CMMB mission team was back again. Unfortunately, due to the increased cost of medical permits recently rolled out by the Zambian government, this was a mission of two – Beverly and Helene! Their visit reminded me of what it was that inspired me to come to Zambia in the first place -“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” –  Mother Teresa.

You see, working at the hospital here can be mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. Yes, there are many success stories of children and adults who come to the hospital and are able to return home for a full recovery.

Stephanie smiling with her patient

But, the stories that stick with you are the ones that challenge you the most, the stories of people who don’t recover for a host of reasons –  the severity of illness, lack of medications, lack of diagnostic capacity, or lack of intensive care equipment. The other stories that stick with you are the ones about patients who return home but are never the same – patients who leave the hospital with serious deficits.

It is painful to lose lives, or to see someone’s quality of life forever changed because of gaps that exist simply because of where you are.

It can drain you.

A child in Mwandi, Zambia

But, God knows when you are tired and if you look to Him, He will send people, messages, and circumstances in your life to refresh and revive your spirit. I know this from my own experience. That’s just what He did in bringing Bev, Helene, and spa day!

Sometimes, it’s not just about medicines, lab results, vital signs, and progress. Sometimes, it’s just about listening to someone’s complaints, feeling a gentle touch, seeing a smile, or even getting a pedicure!

I was at the point in my volunteer experience where I needed to be reminded that it is not just the big things that are done with great love, but the small things too.

Anastasia enjoying her new nail file

Anastasia enjoying her new nail file.

Patrick and his new goodies

Patrick and his new goodies

As Beverly and Helene unpacked their bags of goodies for the residents and caregivers, it re-centered me. You don’t need grand gestures to show love. It was simple acts of kindness – the gift of bars of soap, flip flops, cups, and towels – that made these people so joyful!

Watching the residents smile as their feet were cleaned,  nails clipped, and beards trimmed reminded me that even the simple things in life can be done with great love.

Robert enjoying a Pedicure from Dr. Helene

Robert enjoying a Pedicure from Dr. Helene.

Beverly trimming Patrick's Beard

Beverly trimming Patrick’s Beard.

Doing small things with great love isn’t something we need to travel out of the country to do. Really, we don’t even have to leave the house!

With that, I will deliver my challenge to you. I challenge you to do a simple act of kindness- write a letter, make a special meal, visit a friend, smile at a stranger. At the end of the day, these small actions, when done with love, remind us that we are here to love one another and to be loved in return. After all, these actions renew our spirit and our soul.

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