Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Medical Mission

While one part of our team built schools and played with the kids (we liked to call it "family life ministry"),  the other part of our crew in Haiti was the medical team. An amazing group of people worked in very close quarters and with limited technology and supplies to treat approximately 800 people and pull over 400 teeth in four days. Praise God for their willingness to give of themselves to help the Haitian people!

The medical tent.
Hundreds of men, women and children waited in the terrible heat to see a doctor.

Because of the close quarters in the tent, the rest of us didn't spend a whole lot of time inside the medical tent. We did, however, get to enjoy the amazing stories over a yummy meal of beans and rice at the end of the day. This is the one that continues to both haunt and motivate me...

An older gentleman approached the work site one morning and asked to borrow one of the wheel barrows. With some skepticism and trepidation, he was allowed to take it. We all watched him take off across the field and many of us grumbled and mused that we'd probably never see that wheel barrow again. A little while later, we stood in humbled silence and awe. The man returned carrying his elderly friend in the wheel barrow who was unable to walk. The doctors believe the man had suffered a stroke several weeks prior to our arrival. 

I immediately thought of the story in the Bible of the friends who lowered their sick friend through the roof to have Jesus heal him (Mark 2:1-12). I was sickened at my own lack of commitment to help my suffering friends around me through whatever means possible...even if it meant pushing him or her miles in a wheel barrow or lowering him or her through a roof to receive the healing touch of God's grace and mercy. I realized how many of my friends are hurting and longing to be healed and how many times in my busyness and selfishness had simply just passed them by. 

That man - and the friends in Mark 2 - are the kind of friends I want to be...what about you?

Walls Are A Good Thing

So I've been home a little over a month. I keep thinking the pain in my heart and urge to go back will subside, but it seems the longer I'm away, the more I want to be there. I am still trying to get my head around it all so it's likely the trip recap will be "recaps" over several weeks...or even months. The one thing I am certain of is that I will never be the same...

My week in Haiti was the most heart breaking and life changing experience of my life. I have never loved so deeply so quickly and felt so overwhelmed by the need surrounding me. The children stole my heart from the time we crossed the border as they ran alongside the trucks waving and smiling. Their immediate trust and quick laughter warmed my heart and made me wish we could all be so quick to love and let others into our hearts. The adults embraced me with smiles and greetings that transcended our language barrier. I learned very quickly that a smile and laughter are the universal language - no interpreter needed. Despite the hot, dry and bleak conditions, most of the people were joyous and grateful for the help being provided to their community.  

Part of the team spent our time there building five classrooms for a school that is scheduled to open in September. The thought of providing the means to educate children to hopefully enable and empower them to improve the way of life for themselves and generations to come brings great joy to my heart. The teacher who will oversee the school told Tim (the missionary that runs the Hispaniola Mountain Ministries) that he wanted to teach the children three things: to read, to write and about Jesus Christ. I can't think of a better mission for a school.

Amazing progress!
Prepping for the inaugural activity in one of the classrooms.
We gave the kids foam visors and stickers to decorate them.
They really had fun...and so did we!
A little help from Moise (Moses) with our activity.
One of the things that struck me most about the classrooms was the order that ensued once the kids were inside those walls. Out in the open, the kids were wild (as most kids are!) and any effort to give them anything or do almost any kind of organized activity often resulted in...well, pretty much a mob scene. Inside the walls of their classrooms, however, they sat quietly and waited their turns and were polite and orderly. It was amazing! 

It really made me think about all the times I've wanted "freedom," but God gently gave me "walls" to reign in my energy and efforts. Sometimes what feels like walls to limit us are actually walls to protect us. Thank you, God, for the times You reigned me in with walls and protected me from myself...

More to come...