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.

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