Friday, May 29, 2009

Why we do what we do

Even the simplest wicker basket can become priceless when it is loved and cared for through the generations of a family. -Sister Parish

Recently several of my fellow nurses and co-workers have gone through tragedies, not mishaps or misfortunes, but tragedies. As the rest of us have tried to love and care for these people that we've been bonded to through our workplace, the subject of caring for the care-giver has come up.

I have often asked the rhetorical question, "Who cares for the care-givers?" Actually, the question is only rhetorical because it is often met with silence. Please don't misunderstand, I am not writing this as a complaint. Rather it is a reminder first to myself and then to the reader that we should fight against the human tendency to accept the love and nurturing we receive from those around us while forgetting to reciprocate. I believe that we often fail to recognize who some of our care-givers are because...well, because they're people who are just doing what they do.

  • Pastors or other clergy
  • Teachers and mentors
  • Friends who are single parents
  • Co-workers
  • Health care providers
  • Neighbors
  • Encouragers in our lives

Of course family and close friends are on that list but we generally express our appreciation and care for them more readily. And for each of us there are others we can add to this list, this is just a starting place.

As for Touching Lives Ministry, we do what we do primarily because God has called us to it that He would be glorified and lives would be changed. But we recognize that there are many who have sacrificed much to care for the poor around the world. One of our passions is to come beside those heros and care for them.

There are many things in our lives that we care for, I pray we will all become better at showing that same kind of care to the people God has placed in our lives to bless us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons from Nepal: Be Careful Who You Lean On

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding
Proverbs 3:5

After our first clinic day in Sera Bajar we set off down the mountain in our usual groups of four to six. Even though I do not have the “gift” of agility I felt quite safe armed with my trusty walking stick and aided by two of my two sisters in the Lord, Alex and Susan, in front and behind me. About mid-way in our travels we reached an area that had about five stone steps. To the left of us was a large yucca plant and to the right only the ground at the bottom of the steps. A five to six foot high retaining wall went from the top step to the ground.

Upon reaching the bottom step Alex turned and took my left hand. Susan supported my right arm as I planted my walking stick on the ground below us. All was well until I reached the third step. After moving the walking stick forward a little I felt my balance shift unexpectedly to the right. I struggled to straighten myself but this was a battle that gravity was determined to win!

Thank God Alex immediately felt me going and pulled my arm in the opposite direction. This caused the fall to happen literally in slow motion but, alas, Alex also succumbed to the laws of nature of landed on top of me. The entire grace-less episode ended with a thud as the back of my head hit the retaining wall. Upon hearing the “clunk” from my cranium I remember thinking, “Wow, that can’t be good!”

As soon as the “dust settled” Rich, the team’s EMT who is also one of our RNs, rushed to my side to evaluate any injuries. Because of the impressive sound emanating from the collision of my head with the wall everyone was concerned that I might have sustained a concussion or worse. However, God in His mercy used Alex to keep me from falling directly on my head thus making the sound of the impact much worse that the impact itself.

However, I did incur a much less obvious injury that resulted from the fact that when a person falls to their right but is being pulled to their left, they tend to bend in half at the hips. In hind sight (every pun intended) it became apparent that my “southern region” hit the ground first and hardest, softening the blow to my head. I knew immediately that I had fractured my coccyx! OK, go ahead, snicker if you have to – but don’t expect me to join in, it hurts more when I laugh!

After Rich examined my head and checked neurological signs, and with much insistence on my part, he realized that there was nothing anyone could do to treat my injury except gingerly help me to my feet. As I took my newly re-arranged bum for a test drive, Rich retrieved my walking stick. That was when we realized that my formerly trusty stick had snapped about two inches above the end.

Because I am convinced that short term mission trips are much more about the “giver” than the “receiver”, I always take time to ponder what it is that God was trying to teach me during each trip. Initially I thought that God was trying to keep me humble through this episode – a natural assumption given that He has been working on me in this area for years. And while that may be part of what He was doing, I haven’t been able to get my mind (the part of me that didn’t break) off of that flawed walking stick. After all, it had supported me through two other missions.

Finally just this past week I heard that “still, small voice” whisper to my spirit, “Kathi, be very careful about who and what you lean on.” Just as I had foolishly put my faith in a faulty walking stick, many are putting their faith in faulty gods. I pray with all my heart that God will use the time we spent in Nepal to open the eyes of the people we touched to the Truth that there is no other God like Him.