Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IPU in the ICU

Lou Anne with a patient family
Two and a half weeks ago we had a medical brigade here.  One member, Lou Anne, is a nurse practitioner.  Lou Anne has more energy - physical, mental and emotional -- than just about anyone I know.  She saw more patients in a given day than any of the other doctors.  She greeted each patient (and usually it was a family of patients) with a smile, plastering a sticker on the children, leaning forward to listen to them.  As she took their medical history, list of symptoms and worries, she radiated a genuine love for each and all of them.  She has a wonderful sense of humor which often came through despite the language differences.   Back at Casa LAMB she was the life of the party!  What a blessing it was to spend a week with her.

Tonight she is in the ICU with a severe head injury as a result of a riding accident.   She is a single mother with two young daughters.  How quickly and unexpectedly things change.  How precious is every day with the people we love.

Dr. Mike Sabback
This week we have two teams in house.  One is a construction team from Holy Cross in S.C. and the other is a prayer team from a small town in S.C.   I spent the day with the prayer team today.  I have never spent an entire day praying!  I didn't know what to expect.  I confess I secretly feared I would get bored after an hour or two.  Not so much.  I don't have pictures because this is a very personal and confidential activity.  I will try to describe at least the mechanics of the process.  I am not gifted enough to describe the feeling and power of the experience.  This afternoon the team prayed for the office staff.  One at a time a staff member would come into David's office which he had graciously given to us.  Dr. Mike would invite the person to sit down and engage in a short, casual conversation to put everyone at ease - "How are you?  What do you do?" etc.  Then he asks if they have any specific prayer requests.   We stand, surrounding the person, placing a hand on his/her shoulder or back.  The prayers begin.  Sometimes Mike starts and sometimes another "prayer warrior" starts.  The prayers are very specific.  We are huddled together locked in a posture of love, support and prayer.  Mike exhorts us to make eye contact periodically but I found it difficult to lift my head and open my eyes.  Between prayers there would be a moment of silence and then another prayer would begin.  At first I would be waiting my turn, composing my contribution while Mike or Liz or Neil was praying.  I would be dismayed when someone "took" my prayer and I would have to start over composing a new one!   I finally figured out that all I needed to do was silently pray along with the vocal pray-er and wait for the Holy Spirit to move me to contribute a prayer out loud.  I didn't need to compose it.  It flowed.  As the prayer time continued, it seemed to get more intimate and more intense until Mike or Will brought out a small vial of oil and annointed the person in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  At that moment I felt we were physically and spiritually joined together.   Amen.

We took a short break between staff members to rest and debrief.  Mike was great at gently instructing us in ways to increase the intensity and effectiveness of the prayer time.  Specificity was one guidepost.  Pray for what the person had requested, not what we thought they needed or the solution we thought was called for.  During one break, Liz, the teenaged daughter of Will and Lynne, joked that it was time to return to the IPU - Intensive Prayer Unit.   I laughed thinking what an apt description that was.  What I have learned from today is that prayer is very powerful to the "pray-ee" and the "pray-er."    Prayer is very a very intimate experience, one to revere and cherish.  And prayer is done wherever the heart is.

Tonight I ask you to join me in the IPU at the bedside of Lou Anne in the ICU.  Pray with intensity and specificity for Lou Anne's healing, her daughters and loved ones, the nurses and doctors who are caring for her, her patients who are missing her loving touch, her mission team partners who look forward to being with her here next year, and thank the Lord for her precious life.

O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant,Lou Anne Pritchard, the help of your power, that this sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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