Monday, November 21, 2016

When you are the "expert"

I found when I was in Honduras, that the title of "nurse" just didn't cut it.  No matter HOW many times I told people I was a nurse, my patients would refuse to call me that, and always referred to me as "Doctora Teresa" (my middle name I've always used).  Ultimately I gave up, and just responded to how people addressed me.  I think it really was more an acknowledgement of how much I know.  I have done my utmost to educated myself well beyond what I learned in Nursing school, and my 13 years working in a hospital.  I've gone to week long trainings, seminars, read more books than I care to acknowledge, been to medical symposiums, break-out sessions on topics that are "hot" in my area, and am only a few months away from getting my Masters degree in Public Health.

However, even with all that, I can't help but feel the burden of being the "expert" in a field.  I have taught on HIV/AIDS, will have a 30-hour class on the topic, will be doing another church-wide event on the topic, and have bi-monthly medical clinics where I am heavily involved in patient education.  I do NOT profess to be an expert in pretty much anything...but I'm highly educated on a LOT of "stuff".  Because of that, that means I am typically the most educated around (in health care issues, that is).  My class that started out as 9 students, has morphed into 25 students.  I have a student handbook that I created, have a text book we are using, and I'm having the students devise an HIV/AIDS outreach program within their church as their "final project" for my class.

We have, once again, found ourselves figuring out things on our own.  Our team mates returned to the U.S. only 2 months after we arrived, so we were left to figure out things for ourselves - but our time in Honduras prepped us to be able to do just that.  We arrived in Honduras by ourselves, and left with a HUGE team taking over.  So - God prepared and equipped us to be able to do that.

However, I won't deny the stress and burden that that brings with it.  I have people knocking on our door almost on a daily basis asking for medical help - organizations looking how I can help out - churches asking for classes and health education - the list is endless, and honestly, my days would be filled with just that if I let it.

However, I must find a balance.  I do work for free, after all.  Regardless of how much work I do or don't do.  When a missionary goes on the field, they go as a "unit".  That  means that one person is paid.  Typically that means that the spouse (wife) is primarily involved in the hugely important job of caring for the family on the mission field, but they typically have only a small involvement in the ministry.  For me, that's always meant something else.  I've always been a mom, a wife, a nurse, and 10 other hats.  And my full-time job means working for free.  On the mission field that looks like a full-time ministry partner.  This is a unique place, and not one that many other "units" experience.  Don't get me wrong - there are certainly other missionary units that have working spouses, but this is the exception, not the norm.  But the bottom line is - if I wanted to make money, I would not be a missionary - I'm not here because I am looking to make money - I am here for a different reason entirely - to be obedient for what God has for me here, in this place, at this time.

And so...I guess I will be the "expert" in my field, and do my darndest to pass that information on to others.  To educate others on how to change their life, their diet, and reduce their risks of becoming infected with HIV - the number 1 cause of death in this little country.  With the average life expectancy is 57, where your odds of dying before 5 are one of the highest in the world, where your odds of becoming infected with HIV and dying from AIDS are the 14th highest in the world...yeah...I guess me becoming an "expert" in the field is important after all.

1 comment:

LeAnne said...

Erin, bless you for the work you are doing. We are always interested in what you do, and will keep you in prayer.

Manor PCA
Cochranville, PA