Myagmardorch is in his early forties and dying quickly. His wife babbles to herself in the bed on the other side of the room. His three teenage children lack any wherewithal or motivation. Even the puppy is more sad than alive. The hospice staff nurse changes the dressing on either hip to reveal bed sores the size of saucers. The cold air of the unheated one room house steams as it hits the warmth of an open sore - like warmth of an exhale on any frigid Ulaanbaatar morning.
I have been visiting Myagmardorch and his family for some weeks now. From the Grace Hospice office we take a bus for miles and miles, then switch to a micro-bus for miles and miles more, then we switch to a taxi for the last mile; weaving in and out of alleyways in the maze of a ger district. Generally we knock on the outer gate for (no less than) 5 minutes before one of the children wakes up, puts pants on, and manages to meander on down to the gate.
This week was different. A visiting relative heard the knock on the first try and bounded down to let us in. Our patient can't walk, talk, or feed himself and the family has expected each night to be his last for at least a week. But, even as he lay dying, his family is showing signs of new life. Today the puppy seemed happy, inquisitive, and playful.
His wife managed to get out of bed for a few minutes. His daughters were alert and concerned and one daughter was downright helpful. Even his son managed to exchange pleasantries. Myagmardorch's oldest daughter explained during our visit that she had accept Jesus Christ this week.
It made all the difference. Even in the midst of a time of such darkness, her witness shined brightly and the countenance of the whole house had changed.