Sunday, August 30, 2015

Humbled in His service...

The tusunami of 2004 has left an eternal impact on me.  Being part of the Disaster Relief Ministry of our agency allows me an outlet for the incredible need that hits the world in the most dire of circumstances.  I thank God for the ability to be a part of this amazing ministry!

I looked into the eyes of a man who had endured much.  He looked back at me with eyes that were haunted with the empty eyes of one who had lost much.  His face was barren…barren of hope and light, and beauty.  Here was a face of one who had seen his family lost in front of his eyes.  He held in one hand the hand of his child, and in the other, the hand of his beloved wife, knowing that only one life would be saved today.  The waves of the tsunami rocked his world, and hit with an unyielding fury and power that could not be denied.  Wave after waved rocked his world, and he clung desperately to the people who meant the most in his world.  When he looked at the eyes of his wife, all he could see was the life of the woman who had held him captive these many years…who had given birth to his sweet girl…who ensured that life would go on.  In his left hand was the two year old girl who meant everything to him…was the assurance that his name would not be lost…that his life – in her – would continue.  He knew, in that moment, that he could not possibley hold on to both hands.  So he looked at his sweet wife KNOWING what the decision he made meant, but a decision she would have made without a second guess…he let go the hand of his sweet wife.  The mother of his child…the mate he had found after a life time of seeking.  Knowing that she would have made the same decision – save the life of our child…the life we had created…the life that had hope and a chance.

These are lives that have been touched with the Disaster Relief ministry I have been involved in.  The lives that I don’t even know how to address…how to comfort…how to relate to.  But God has placed these people into my life and has given me a glimpse of what He has for me…how He has allowed me a moment to love someone – someone I don’t know – someone that just needs a hug – someone that God has placed in my life…being a missionary has had such a huge impact on my life.  It has allowed me a brief glimpse into the lives that I have touched.  Thank you God for giving me the ability to look outside of myself…to look beyond what I want, and to seek what you would have for me in caring for those you place in my path.  I pray that wherever or whenever you put these people into my life I will respond.

 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did n`ot do for me.’

Matthew 25:42-45

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pride Before the Fall

I am a firm believer that you could pretty much look at every sin committed and realize that it comes down at its base to be originated from pride.  When you think your decisions have to make more sense than what God tells you is best for yourself.  Isn't that pride?  In our sinful nature we don't want others telling us what to do.  Look at that stubborn toddler and that willful teenager?  They certainly feel like their decisions are the right ones and ours are not.  We, in the eyes of God, have to be those stubborn toddlers and willfull teenagers, right?

I know He looks down at us and everytime we turn from his direction He says, "Silly child...but I still love you...looks like I need to teach you this lesson again..."

This was a life lesson, this week.  Batted down once again by a God who loves me so much and wants me to listen.  Just listen.  Don't speak...just listen.  The word listen is a verb - which implies that it is an action.  You need to actively be involved in the process.  
I started getting sick on Sunday night.  Serious chills, 102 fever, aches over all my body, wiped out, and generally feeling like crap.   As it was 10 O'Clock at night, I took some tylenol, some ibuprofen, and went to bed, sweating and shaking for the rest of the night.  The following day I found pus and blood in my urine...hmmm...I thought....this is pretty serious.  Probably should start some meds.  Started some oral meds (quite appropriate for a general run of the mill urinary tract infection - but not really so much for a full blown kidney infection).  But I'll be honest, I was a little delirious, couldn't shake the super high fever and chills, so thought I was making some fairly rational decisions. I had Mike run to the store and get me some injectable meds and had Madison give me the injection.  Still running fevers, chills, etc.  My husband endlessly asking if I should go be seen.  This is when my BFF stepped in and I had the quite literal tongue lashing (at least the best you can do) over Facebook chat.  Then came the phone call and the brow beating.  "I don't want to lose you...", she said, "You could go septic and I could lose you..."  That did get my head cleared a bit and got me thinking.  But...I can surely take care of myself, right?  I'm pretty smart, drinking lots of fluids, taking my little meds...surely I can take care of this,..can't I (as I'm still running high fevers, chills, not eating, etc).  I know - any rational person at this point would have realized the error of their ways and called it quits.  But if any of you know me well enough, you know I am NOT a quitter!

Yes, that was the way my brain was working.  By admitting defeat, I was admitting I couldn't do it myself.  And yes, this is where my sin comes blaringly obvious to everyone else, but I still couldn't see it.  But my BFF was not giving up without a fight!  We started the compromise game.  If you aren't better in 30 minutes after your meds you are GOING IN, she says.  I was like, what?!  That's not even time for it to start working!  How about 10pm tonight - oh HECK no she about in four hours she says.  Fine, decent compromise - but with the promise to have a full set of vital signs by the time I give her my update.  The only thing that kept her from flying to Honduras and kicking me in the butt was that my blood pressure and pulse were fairly stable the entire time.  The final compromise was if I still was sick the next day I had to PROMISE to go be seen, or there would be phone calls made.  That promise made me go.  Because even after another terrible night, I was trying to convince myself that I really didn't need to go, but because of the promise I made, and the value I place on holding true to my word I went.

Gratefully I have an amazing clinic with an incredible Dr. Roger, and amazing nurse Angy who upon taking the first look at me had an IV going and two liters of fluids up and running and a massive dose of IV antibiotics running before I could hardly even notice.  They weren't messing around.  

As I sat there on the exam bed, sweating through my most recent fever, in the jungles of Honduras in a clinic that God had built my mind began to reflect back on the last couple of days.  What an idiot I was.  What indeed could have happened...obviously my paultry means of trying to take care of things probably held off what could have ended very badly.  A friend just sent me a message saying a 46 year old nurse friend of theirs just died of the same thing I had - because she hadn't gotten medical attention in time.  I was reminded of time after time my husband asking if I should go to be seen, of my friends relentfless pursual of me...and I knew that once again God had brought me low only to lift me up by showing me His love through His people.  My family taking care of me, my friend's loving beratement, Dr. Roger's simple hug, and patting my head as I cried into his scrub top because I was so exhausted and so so sick, to Angy's compassionate caring for me while at the clinic. biggest sin...and once again, God sanctifying me through this process.  Maybe I have learned?  Or will once again...sometime in the future, God look down at me and say, "Silly child...but I still love you...looks like I need to teach you this lesson AGAIN..."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Medical Brigade

Yesterday was the last...the last of many things for Mike and myself.  Most likely the last team for us in La Ceiba, the last Medical Brigade in La Ceiba, the last time we have 16 hour work days here.  Our impending move makes things a little different for us.  But what a WAY to go out!!!!  

This medical brigade came with lots of folks doing lots of things.  In this way we were able to serve so many different types of people.  We applied fluoride on kids teeth (there is no fluoride in water here, nor do kids get routine trips to the dentist) - so this was a HUGE blessing to the kids here.  In addition, we had a way to assess the prescription needed for glasses, and were able to give out tons of glasses the team brought.  A physical therapist came and provided her expertise to so many kids/adult with disabilities and physical needs.  We had a number of physicians giving out general consults to so many patients, and then we had a deworming/vitamin station.  All in all we saw 956 people in all of these locations in four different church plant areas.  What a blessing to the people of La Ceiba, and what a blessing for our church plant pastors to serve the people of their congregation.

In addition we had a photographer who came with the team and was able to capture some moments along the way.  He has given me permission to post his photographs - the first two pictures are his. I would be remiss if I did not give him credit for his incredible ability to place emotions and capture a moment in time.  His name is Nathan Clendenin.  Thank you Nathan for sharing your talents with us!

This sweet lady came to the clinic this week

These are some of our peeps along with Pastor Donaldo making house visits

Madison with a patient she had translated for

This little guy couldn't get enough pictures taken of him!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Priorities in a Third World Country

People ask me, after living here for 7years, if I have become blinded to the beauty that is Honduras.  And the honest answer is no.  Every time I drive out to the clinic in Armenia Bonito I am confronted with the amazingily beautiful mountains in front of me.  I see the incredible flowers that bloom year-round, and the trees bursting with huge mangos.
(my clinic in the village of Armenia Bonito)

However, this week brought to my attention the things that I have become blinded to.  The trash...trash in third world countries is a reality.  People are working so hard just to put food on their table, where their trash goes is the last thing on their priority list.  Where we had clinic yesterday is right across from a common dumping ground for trash in the community:

 My eyes looked right past it - it wasn't until someone on the visiting team took pictures of it that it brought it to my attention.  The other thing was military and police presence.  They are everywhere you look.  I guess in the murder capitol of the world that is a GOOD thing - but again - until people were taking pictures and asking about the military and the police did it remind me of their presence. 

So that got me to thinking.  Why have I not lost the ability to see the beauty in the world, but have become blind to the trash and police/military presence?  I know there is a sermon in there somewhere, but honestly, I think it has come down to priorities, and a small sense of self-preservation.  Beauty makes me happy - it reminds me of the presence of God and His creation.  It is is is the sense of positiveness in all things, even in the darkness of living in the most murderous country in the world.  Let's face it - trash is a downer.  We pride ourselves in the United States about how clean we are - how orderly.  Our Home Owner's Associations demand it, and we meet our obligation by keeping our grass only 1 inch high, and our trash cans off the street before the end of the day on trash day.

It's Hope.  That's why I still see the beauty and not the trash.  God brings Hope through His son.  And that's what I want to portray to those I serve.  The Hope in Him that is beauty.  Trash is the thing we discard when we are done with it - it no longer serves a purpose.  Police and the military are there to protect us.  Once sin entered the world, the first murder occurred.  Living in the most murdurous country in the world we see it or hear about it EVERY day.  There are more than 300 murders a year in our own little city of La Ceiba.  Man is sin.  Only in the Hope that is Jesus Christ can this country come out from under the darkness it is in.  So I choose to see the beauty in the world - focus on that, and not lose sight of the sin, but my priority is the light in the world, not the darkness.  

p.s. One thing I have NEVER gotten "over" or become blind to is the chronic state of serious poverty here in Honduras.  I think the day I do is the day I need to leave the mission field.