Summary: How to find joy in the midst of difficulties

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This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to ride with 2 deputies in the Oviedo area. That night, I rode with a deputy as he patrolled his area and one of the things we did was drive around behind many of the stores and shopping centers to make sure there were no problems there. Of the patrol that night, one store area sticks in my mind. I remember it because of what the deputy I was riding with told me.

As we pulled around the side of one shopping center he pointed out a particular parking space and told me about a young man, 19 or 20 years old, they found there shortly after hurricane Charlie. He told me another deputy had found the young man there, in his car, with one end of a garden hose connected to his tail pipe and the other end stuck in his car window. The man was attempting to commit suicide. Fortunately, he was found in time and his life was saved.

As he continued the account, he said that there were many people who attempted suicide shortly after the storms. It broke my heart when I thought about the many people in our area who have resorted to such tactics because of a few physical setbacks.

The Lord arranged it, however, for me to take that ride the day after I read about a woman by the name of Mabel. Let me introduce you to her through the words of Tom Schmidt, the man who told her story.

“The state-run convalescent hospital is not a pleasant place. It is large, understaffed, and overfilled with senile and helpless and lonely people who are waiting to die. On the brightest of days it seems dark inside, and it smells of sickness and stale urine. I went there once or twice a week for 4 years, but I never wanted to go there, and I always left with a sense of relief. It is not the kind of place one gets used to.

On this particular day I was walking in a hallway that I had not visited before, looking in vain for a few who were alive enough to receive a flower and a few words of encouragement. This hallway seemed to contain some of the worst cases, strapped onto carts or into wheelchairs and looking completely helpless.

As I neared the end of the hallway, I saw an old woman strapped up in a wheelchair. Her face was an absolute horror. The empty stare and white pupils of her eyes told me that she was blind. The large hearing aid over one ear told me that she was almost deaf. One side of her face was being eaten by cancer. There was a discolored and running sore covering part of one cheek, and it had pushed her nose to one side, dropped one eye, and distorted her jaw so that what should have been the corner of her mouth was the bottom of her mouth. As a consequence, she drooled constantly. I was told later that when new nurses arrived, the supervisors would send them to feed this woman, thinking that if they could stand this sight they could stand anything in the building. I also learned that this woman was 89 years old and that she had been here, bedridden, blind, nearly deaf, and alone, for 25 years. This was Mabel.

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