Mary Joseph—A different kind of healing

Say-Say (left) says she has been accused of practicing Obeah but that does not deter her.

St Lucia has a rich culture and history.  One of the most prominent features, especially in rural areas, is the distrust of conventional medical procedures.  In exploring local medicinal remedies, the STAR came across a fascinating woman in Dugard, Micoud.
Mary Joseph, more affectionately known as Say-Say or Miss Say Say, usually has a long line of people outside her house on certain days.  This 62-year-old specializes in “dressing” ailments.  Dressing in this sense means discovering the ailment and treating it with a local remedy if she is able.
Amicable and jovial are the first words that come to mind when you meet Say-Say. We had to wait a while before we were allowed to have an audience with her.  She was working.   Eventually a wooden door opened and out came two women with an infant each.   While Say-Say went to the back of the house to gather various plants to use as medicine, the STAR had a chat with the women who testify as to Say-Say’s abilities.  The women are from the Micoud area and believe that God, through his child Say-Say, has healed ailments.  Say-Say returned with instructions for the women.
Say-Say led us to a small, unpainted room attached to her house.  There was a medicine table to the left and a bed straight ahead. Next to the bed was a chair.  The room smelled of soft candle.
She began telling us her story of how she spent 28 years healing people.  She is a strong Seventh Day Adventist now.  Before, she attended a different church.  One day while in church the preacher said something very confusing she told me.  The preacher said he doesn’t have to go to church on Saturday to worship but Adventists believe they have to attend church on that day in order to be close to God.
Confused, Say-Say went down on her knees one Friday night and prayed, “Lord I thank you.  Show me when is the right day for the Sabbath.” As soon as she finished praying, she lay on her pillow and had what she initially thought was a dream.
She said, “It was very, very bright. I was on a field and I was there combing a lady. There was a man standing up by me. We had two little boys and the lady had a baby on her, I had the boy and the man had a little boy. I heard he person call me “Say-Say, Say-Say.” So I let go the person’s hand and said “Yes my Lord.”
“He (God) spoke to me at length and I was listening.  However I couldn’t understand what He was telling me. When he finished I told Him “Yes my Lord” then went back to combing the lady’s hair. The brother that was by me said, “Wayne, Jovin they talking to the lady but she cannot understand or hear what they saying. Y’all making too much noise!” My son’s name is John and his son was Wayne. The man took Wayne and put him on his side and I took John and put him on my side. The lady still had the child breastfeeding.  I then heard the person call me again “Say-Say.  Say-Say”. I answered “Yes my Lord” and I opened my eyes.”
As Say Say tells it, God told her to stay righteous and do His work. She agreed but she didn’t know what to do.  She asked Him when the Sabbath day is to be observed and He said to her, “Today is the Sabbath.  I am the Sabbath of the Lord.”
She questioned why other religions observed the Sabbath on a Sunday and He told her, “Sunday is tradition but I have my children in all churches so don’t criticize any of them. If you can help them then do so.”
Say-Say said God prophesied to her.  “He told me I would cry a lot. I will see bloodshed and it would tear apart my heart. All what He told me I have seen over the years. In the dream, I went back to combing the lady’s hair and He came back again calling me “Say-Say”, so I made three steps back and I open my arms and said “Lord speak to me I am listening.” My eyes were closed and He spoke to me and I listened to Him. He told me, “I am the way, the truth and the light”.  He told me, “don’t forget the Sabbath, remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” He also told me that he would be with me until the end of the world so do not be afraid, be strong and do His work for Him. When He was going He told me He would come back and speak to me. A year later He came to speak to me and He gave me the medicine, the way to dress and He told me don’t be afraid.”
Say-Say fasts when she works, only eating fruits.  Eventually she had a second vision.  Say-Say said, “The man called me, I was sleeping and I saw a man’s hand. I didn’t see his face. When God was talking to me I didn’t see His face either. I could only hear the voice. The man came behind my back and told me “look go and cure that person”.  The woman he sent me to cure is with my husband.   I was upset.  He said that if I don’t do it I will get her sickness.  I decided to do it.”
When she awoke she immediately sought out her husband. He didn’t know the woman was ill.  It came to light the woman was plagued with an ailment.  Say-Say treated her and from there, the rest as they say, is history.
As part of the deal, Say-Say is not allowed to charge for her services. However, clients have to pay for the medicine. Ingredients for her medicine include local eggs, extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, soft candle and strong rum.  There is a specific remedy for each ailment.
Before she got her visions, Say-Say worked in bananas.  She said God told her to leave that career and do the work He assigned.  She is accustomed to the negativity associated with her work and the judgmental nature of persons in her neighbourhood and in her church.
“Sometimes God sends people to test me sometimes.  They call me names like “gadeh” and tell me I doing obeah.  But I know as long as I keep my faith and believe that God is working through me then I will be fine.”
There is one catch to persons who seek out Say-Say, “It can only work if you have faith that it will.”

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