I have been filling in for Valerie this week in the rural brigades/health days we are doing. She was unable to go at the last minute, as the other doctor in the clinic to see patients has been called away and will be gone for a while. But, it is not a big deal we reasoned, as things were set up to only be distributing reading glasses to people over 40 (since I was going to be by myself in that area while the rest of the group is doing medical outreach...doing a full array of glasses and fuller exams is not quite so feasible by yourself in these settings.)
This plan makes perfect sense...except when you factor in the fact that some people need help and figure, when is the next time they are going to see us? (For some of these places it has been quite a while, since we have not had any student teams to help us for several years.)
So instead of just picking through some reading glasses, it has been days of interesting conversations about mostly normal stuff (pterygiums, aged related cataracts, allergies, dry eye, young kids needing glasses for school work...even trauma related retinal scarring and the like.)
But then came the mother with her seven year old son. He has a lazy eye and wanted to check on him after trying to get him seen at the public hospital but missing an appointment (very long distance away for them) and then seeing a private doctor nearby in Comayagua.
The private doctor told her that nothing could be done, that he did not need glasses, and not to let anyone ever do surgery on his eye.
What you can see there instead of black in his pupil is a congential cataract, to go along with his strabismus (the lazy eye...in this case, his right eye is angled out to the right)
This is frustrating, because the doctor here told her that surgery would not help since he was over five years old. That is not true. It is possible he could see if he got surgery, along with other help. Likely not 20/20, but something. It is also not true that he should not be wearing glasses, since he should have protection for his good eye!
I share this mostly out of frustration and the need to speak my mind and wrestle though some things, and in anger over the overwhelming lack of good eye care in Honduras for most people...and even sometimes when they go to see doctors and still don't get good information. But also, in the midst of my own struggles with inadequacy, and the natural tendency to wonder what can I possibly do to help?
Surrender is hard sometimes. Acquiescing to higher powers (be them others telling you that you can do something, or God telling you to do something you know you can't do without Him) can be a difficult skill to acquire.
So, as I share out of my frustration not to you dear reader but instead to myself...I say in exhortation, SNAP OUT OF IT! We have been given knowledge, wisdom, and not a spirit of fear, but rather the Holy Spirit, being equipped to do every good work set out for you ahead of time. Read 2 Timothy 1 and learn to suck it up buttercup! Fake it until you make it!
I might not think I am good enough, smart enough, or that dog gone it, people don't like me...but it doesn't matter what I think, or even what might be 100% true about all that, because God's Word is true above and beyond anything real about me, and He tells me...
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Believe it or not, I try not to think too much. At least not about some things. But I know that even though we stated before we went to the US that we were planning to come back, that many people doubted us at best, and some thought there was some sort of cover up or the like. There wasn't...but I also understand from seeing many other missionaries/pastors/people make life announcements how some could have interpreted it that way.
So, what's the real story, especially now that we are back in Honduras?
Spending about ten months in the USA (minus several trips back home for groups) was a bit of a challenge to our living to Honduras. We anticipated that, and even wanted to be open to if God was using this trip to perhaps change our "calling" (a term worth some further discussion in another post.) Plus we were hoping we were flexible enough, that adapting to living there would not be too hard for us, but that would also then make it harder to leave.
But how about our main purpose: relationships with Churches/supporters/friends? Defining the trip as a success is not easy to quantify. Many visits were made, relationships were deepened, meetings had...it certainly seems like it was well worth it, and we learned a bunch I think that we can continue to use going forward. But everyone always says that. What do the numbers say? Well, the numbers as we finish up in terms of getting new donations/partners or however you look at numbers, would not say it was a huge success. Our current level of "on board monthly supporters" is less than it was 2018. Some of the contacts we made though might take another six months...or more to even know if they will be productive in that way. Patience is key.
So is trusting in God's will and not what we can see, taste, or feel.
There is a rub. If we went purely based on the above, we probably would have stayed in the US. Being back for a longer stretch, I can see the appeal of living there in many ways. But try as I might to be a terrible Christian (or so it would seem to me) I can't get away from God's clear call keeping us here. It is not like I am trying to run away...just the opposite. I see the mountain o'money we could be making in the US, the relative ease of...everything? (best I not start a list, might be depressing). And yet while on a rational side I can see then how it would be better to live somewhere up North...there is this faith component, and a voice in my head that defies logic and instead insists on a different path. And I know it is not my voice!
We might have to make a change in the future, and then again we might die here (today, tomorrow or sometime in the future.) But whatever we do...whatever you do, I implore us to continually take it before God for His direction in our lives. Sometimes if we are attuned and listening, the direction is clear. Other times and other things we might have freedom to explore or try different things and get course corrections mid stream. But making a practice of setting aside our will and seeking God's is so key to balance, stability, and peace in life. If you don't believe in God, I understand how that might rub you the wrong way, and I don't say all this to be pushy. But we have been exposed to something, Someone, that we cannot ignore, and it would be disingenuous to hold that in and not share it. I know it doesn't make sense in the conventional way, but for us there is no other way.
Then comes conversations about buying something or something traditional in this area or time of year...and I have never heard of it or it is a totally foreign concept. And then to drive the point home that it is not me...everyone who then joins the conversation, agrees, has the gidgetdrives the point further home. Mentions of common Christmas plants that I have never heard of...but everyone else seems to have, driving customs that I swear weren't a thing when I lived here about 20 years ago, conversations about politics, policies, rights, they make ratcheting screwdrivers now?...the list goes on. I think I was just kind of denying them for a while. And denying how long it has been, I mean, 18 years "gone" hasn't seemed that long, but clearly it has been.
All this can be a little uncomfortable. And it comes even more going into our home culture as well. (think about that sentence that just came out of me for a bit.) But...overall, it is pretty encouraging in a strange way. Wherever we were born, and whatever culture we are given growing up or encounter living wherever we are or where God takes us, it should not be our first and foremost identity. There is something freeing of being caught between cultures to help you identify what really matters, what you really believe, and what is just not important, or what it just not as important as others think it is or should be.
Kiss me, or be the same...whichever way is fine by me.
Those of the kids that accompanied Maria to Sampedrana also got to stop for a visit in Comayagua. This was quite the unusual adventure for most of them!
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