Terri joined the Save A Child’s Heart family thirteen years ago when she joined the Save A Child’s Heart Medical team on a mission to China. The experience she had then was something that she carried with her and motivated her to come to Israel to volunteer at the Save a Child’s Heart Children’s Legacy Heritage Home for the last three months. It is hard to try and honor her time and commitment to SACH in words; she has become close with the children, mothers, staff, volunteers and members of the medical team. As Terri said herself, “SACH is not divided by race, religion, socio-economic [status] or gender differences. At the SACH house, where the children live before and after heart surgery, and at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, where they are treated, these differences are non-existent. All people are loved, treasured, and cared for in the same manner. Everyone is on equal footing. Life, relationships, and love are what are important and drive the process of saving lives.”
One word that encapsulates her time here is Compassion. Terri’s love and compassion has helped us survive the last three months. Terri blogged throughout her journey in Israel and we put together some of her words (as well as some from other influential people) to express our gratitude and love for her.
Joan Halifax, an anthropologist, teacher and civil rights activist, once said “Compassion has many faces. Some of them are fierce; some of them are wrathful; some of them are tender; some of them are wise. A line that the Dalai Lama once said, he said, ‘Love and compassion are necessities. They are not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.’ And I would suggest, it is not only humanity that won’t survive, but it is all species on the planet, as we’ve heard today. It is the big cats, and it’s the plankton.’”
Krista Tippet, an author and journalist, said that “Compassion is a worthy successor. It is organic, across our religious, spiritual and ethical traditions, and yet it transcends them. Compassion is a piece of vocabulary that could change us if we truly let it sink into the standards to which we hold ourselves and others, both in our private and in our civic spaces.” Terri’s time here was full of meaningful questions, deep conversations with the families, volunteers and medical staff. “I am being exposed to people, groups from all over the world. The stories on the evening news no longer are stories about people ‘over there’. The people have faces now. I’ve seen their heartache with my own eyes.”
Living in the house with the mothers, children and the doctors in training is a magical part of the full time volunteering. The time spent in the evening and during meals is a unique time that shapes the way the house feels like a home. Once the children and mothers get to know the full time volunteers, they are accepted as family. Terri was definitely accepted as a family member and was treated as such. She explains how these experiences shaped her time. “I’m having a unique experience living with people from all over the world. I’ve tried foods I cannot pronounce the names of and learned how to fry chicken the African way. Most of all, I have the front row seat to witness humanity at it’s finest and bond with women who are alike, yet so different, in so many ways.”
Communication is frequently asked about in the SACH house: how do you communicate with one another? How does the house function with all the different languages? Kindness is an important language and the one most spoken in the house. Terri writes how even simple household chores is a source of communication in the house. “Tonight I needed to do my laundry. I was giving it my best effort when one of the mama’s from Zanzibar tapped me on the shoulder and motioned me to slide over. She stepped up to the sink and proceeded to wash every item of my dirty clothes. I learned there is a proper way to hand wash clothes. This mother and I do not speak the same language, so I just observed. Lesson learned—heart touched. As I stood next to her, I realized the world could be a much better, peaceful place if we all live the way we live here at the SACH house. We coexist. Friendships are made. We love each other in spite of our differences. She is a Muslim, I am a Christian. She is black, I am white. She speaks Swahili, I speak English. She is from hot Africa, I am from cold Minnesota. She eats tiny, pungent fish. I eat pork. The list of differences goes on and on. I may never know why she decided to spend 30 minutes of her time doing my laundry, but I am thankful she did! She taught me something new and valuable. I hope I find a way to return the favor.”
Terri has become an integral part of the SACH family and saying goodbye is never easy. Terri is forever a member of the SACH family. “Saying good-bye is a bitter-sweet emotional moment. Deep bonds and friendships are formed during the long stay. The children say goodbye to their new close friends who experienced being given a second chance at life together. The mothers, although anxious to return to their homes, leave behind women who supported them during a very difficult journey.”
Thank you Terri! We will miss you deeply!
You can find more of Terri’s story on her blog.http://goheart4god.tumblr.com/