Believe it or not, sometimes it is hard to find a cast to decorate at the hospital.
Sometimes we have a lot of patients at once who don’t need to wear a cast and instead sport gauze wraps or bandages or slings or braces. We always try to adorn whatever we find, but there is no denying that plaster casts are the best material to work with. The kids feel the same way—sometimes they are disappointed if they do not get a cast put on, and they are always excited to come to the art therapy room when they have a leg or arm that is newly casted.
Therefore, I was very pleased when I arrived at the hospital one morning and saw three kids brandishing three brand new clean white casts. They were excited to show them to me, and all three of them came to the art therapy room together. Since it was already Christmas time, as soon as I saw them together I immediately thought: Three Wise Men!
We started working on the Magi, and we made good progress. We finished two of them with time to spare, but we were unable to finish all three because Rabila (and her cast) had to go back to her room for a nap. This was an unexpected bump in the road on the journey of the Magi, but no serious problem. I told them that we could finish the third cast the following day.
The next day Rabila dutifully came in so that we could paint our third King of the East. We were working on it together when some of the kids came running in to tell us that we lost our first Wise Man! As it turns out, it was for a good cause—Zouera had her cast taken off because her foot was healed! This was exciting news for everyone, since Zouera had already worn multiple casts on her leg over a period of several months. We lost a Wise Man, but she regained her foot, and we were all happy for her. But it still left us one Wise Man short.
Thankfully, the cast-cutter spared our King, and the children went and recovered it from the garbage can. They ceremoniously brought it to the art therapy room. I was surprised and pleased, even though I do not encourage our patients to go digging through the trash (I promise). It was more challenging logistically than I would have thought, but at long last, our three Magi were united, even though one of them had to be held up for the picture!
I love working on joint projects like this with the kids, because everyone gets involved. Not just the three kids with Magi-casts. The other kids at the hospital were also very interested in what we were doing, and they asked all kinds of questions, like “Why would you paint these old men on their casts?” Through their questions, I was able to share the Christmas story. Then at the end we all worked on a nativity scene together (with old water bottles, construction paper, clothes pins, and cotton balls).
The Wise Men followed a star in search of a King; a King who would bring justice and peace, a King who would restore the broken and bring healing to the people and to the land. The patients at our hospital are in search of the same thing—healing, restoration, and peace. Our prayer is that they encounter the King while they are here with us, even if it is through a painting on a cast.
Originally posted at https://joshjulieblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/three-magi-in-niger/.