Sunday, June 30, 2013

Troubled Sunrise

Some mornings I wake up thinking about all of the things I need to accomplish for the day and as I attempt to prioritize them, often begin to get stressed out and find myself mentally exhausted before my feet even slip out of bed. I wonder how much our awaking thoughts reflect our heart. How often do we stress first and ask for help later? My prayer for today is that God will mold my thoughts to be more trusting of Him and less worrying of the future.

My devotion from today:

As you get out of bed in the morning, be aware of My Presence with you. You may not be thinking clearly yet, but I am. Your early morning thoughts tend to be anxious ones until you get connected with Me. Invite Me into your thoughts by whispering My Name. Suddenly your day brightens and feels more user-friendly. You cannot dread a day that is vibrant with My Presence.You gain confidence through knowing that I am with you—that you face nothing alone. Anxiety stems from asking the wrong question: “If such and such happens, can I handle it?” The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I together can handle anything that occurs. It is this you-and-I-together factor that gives you confidence to face the day cheerfully.

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
-Psalm 5:3O
"God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water."
-Psalm 63:1
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4:13

Saturday, June 29, 2013

First week in Maryland

When I grow up, I want to be like Kimball Cho from the Mentalist. Such a serious adult and people never know when he's kidding. Plus, he always kick's the bad guy's butt! Yeah, I want to be Cho when I grow up...

My bucket list just got a little smaller. Learned how and changed my own brakes today (with adult supervision of course)!

June 28th. First two night shifts down:

This morning as I drove home from work, I thought about the little things I took for granted the last 3 years. Simple things like IV pumps, efficient computer charting, and seizure pads. Life is more challenging and creative without them, however I am convinced that wherever you go there are always people with beautiful souls to make any challenge merely a speed bump. Today I am thankful for good co-workers with whom I delivered my first waiting-room baby, a steady job, and for so many great Facebook friends who made my birthday a lot brighter!

Moving to Maryland: A recap of a few days

June 14th
Road trippin with Momma:
Said her name was a hand me down name
From the side of a family that long ago came
Over here on a boat from somewhere in Spain
Sounded to me just a little bit strange, I guess.
But I have to admit, it felt good on my lips! :)

June 15th:
Oh! Well good morning, Maryland and Thank you Holly for giving weary travelers a place to sleep. 900+ miles down!

Thankful for God's blessing on a safe trip, providing a place to stay temporarily, and finding a great place to live for the next three months!

June 18th:
As I prepare to tackle the day and moving in to the fourth floor of an elevator-less building, I am encouraged in my devotions:

Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. Don’t take yourself or your circumstances so seriously. Relax and know that I am God with you. When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening. Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities—things that are beyond your control. Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places. Your laughter rises to heaven and blends with angelic melodies of praise. Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing My children laugh. I rejoice when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life lightheartedly.Do not miss the Joy of My Presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Rather, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. My yoke is comfortable and pleasant; My burden is light and easily borne.
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.-Matthew 11:29–30

So if I fall down the stairs... I will be laughing :)

June 23rd

As I prepare for church this morning, I am reminded of the privilege it is to live in a country with religious freedom. I begin my search for a like-minded group of believers in my new area and have an overwhelming response within a fifteen mile radius. As I consider believers' struggles in countries like China, I realize we are truly blessed with an overabundance, yet do so little of our part to share with our friends or show Christ's love. My devotion today shines a light on part of the reason we are so timid with sharing. Many people seem to have "trust issues" yet have access to the only one who will never fail them. I am terribly guilty of this. Every day God provides for my needs and often wants and every day I have to battle to trust that He will provide. I hope you find the following an encouragement to your hearts.
Let My Love stream through you, washing away fear and distrust. A trusting response includes Me in your thoughts as you consider strategies to deal with a situation. My continual Presence is a promise, guaranteeing that you never have to face anything alone. My children teethe on the truth that I am always with them, yet they stumble around in a stupor, unaware of My loving Presence all around them. How that grieves Me!When you walk through a day in trusting dependence on Me, My aching heart is soothed. Gently bring your attention back to Me whenever it wanders away. I look for persistence—rather than perfection—in your walk with Me.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
-Psalm 52:8“
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
-Deuteronomy 31:6

June 18th

It has been over a week since the last post but I pray the lessons learned in Africa are still fresh in our hearts. Somehow, in spite of our efforts, there remains a gaping need in Africa. Those there still need our prayers and support, but more than that we need to pray that we become sensitive to the need around us. The co-worker who is a single parent struggling with raising their children, the elderly person who may have bad hygiene but has no family to support or love him, the latch-key kid who goes to school with your children and just wants to be loved: we are surrounded by hurting people who need to see the love of Jesus, not by our words but by our actions. In Africa, the need was black and white. In the U.S. it is not always so. My prayer for today is that my heart will be more sensitive to the needs of those around me.
Galatians 6:2
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

June 9th-Travel

As the team began the journey back, there were few cheerful smiles and several tear-stained cheeks. Approaching it from a secular perspective, one would not be able to make sense of it in the least, however, we were privileged to share in a ministry of love and sacrifice that connected us to the people on the most basic of levels. While serving and learning the culture, we were also learning about ourselves; our pettiness, our needy-ness, our selfishness, or even our lack of attentiveness. Each took away a different lesson. As we journey back to the states I cannot help but wonder how long our lessons will stay fresh in our mind. Our humanity tends to allow us to forget lessons learned without a reminder. Technology allows the pictures and some memories to last, but how long will we pray fervently for those we reached out to? This week we have been set on fire, but the comforts of our first world country can dull that flame. I encourage each of our team to take a picture or a reminder of this trip and keep it somewhere to remind you daily of where you have been. For those back at home, please remember to support the efforts of these missionaries in whatever way God allows-whether that be going yourself, supporting financially, or prayers.

As we leave the realities of Ethiopia and the "Ethiopian time" and return to our busy, chaotic schedules I am tempted to begin to stress. As always, God knows my heart and provided these words of encouragement:

Rest in Me, My child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey with Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant Companion who sustains you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don’t even feel the strong grip of My hand holding yours. How foolish you are, My child! Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of My Presence with you. This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day.
Pray continually.-1 Thessalonians 5:17
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.-Psalm 62:5

June 8th-Bethel Baptist

Another day in Africa and another day of giving blessings and being blessed. The updates have been written the morning after because by the time we get back to our place we are exhausted-a very good exhausted but nonetheless. Yesterday we visited Faith Children's Home, a local orphanage. Faith Children’s Home is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is a licensed NGO (Ethiopia version of Not For Profit) in Ethiopia and houses approximately 50 children. Staff members work shifts to cover 24 hour care for the children. Our team's purpose was to provide medical care to the children and staff. In addition, we brought toys, treats, and medicine to the home. We were so pleased to find the orphanage well-managed and the children healthy and happy. One of our team members has adopted from the home and was able to show the children updated Pictures of her son, now living in the states. Playing with the children was such a priceless experience. The conditions the children live in one adequate, but the very basics. No mirrors, pictures, and very few blankets and toys were available. Some of our team will be wiring money to the orphanage this week and if anyone is interested in contributing, please let me know. It the approx $400 USD to feed the children and staff each month.
After the orphage, we spent some time at one of the Missionaries' house enjoying chicken noodle soup (for those sick :), crackers, and safe, fresh veggies (hard to come by with the water problems). We also enjoyed the traditional coffee ceremony. Such great coffee! This has been an incredible trip and I would highly encourage you to take one. All people willing to help are needed. Today we fly out after church and none of us are ready to leave. Please pray for the team's safety in traveling.

"If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday." ~Isaiah 58:10. Serving others forces your eyes off of your own problems and brings you a joy unspeakable. Truly the best anti-depressant around!

June 7th-Wudassi Clinic

June 7th. When it comes to a third world country so much of the realities of our cushy, modernized States melt into a life of survival. While we fight over what brand of peanut butter to get in the US, people in other worlds are walking miles to the nearest city to get medications for their loved ones and waiting hours in lines without a thought for their own comforts. How easily wrapped up we get in things that truly don't matter. It reminds me of patients I have cared for who fought in war, return to the US, and struggle with re-integration. Today we treated children from on orphanage. We treated the elderly from a geriatric center. We treated "the Street kids" the bus picked up. We treated women who made a living selling themselves.Everything from spinal TB to a brain mass to schizophrenia to eye infections came through our clinic and recieved free care, medication, and when appropriate, referrals. The language- barrier is challenging. The condition the people are in is challenging. Sometimes you have to breathe through your mouth and remind yourself that scrubs do wash while performing a physical exam. Each person who came through the clinic, no matter what their status or background, shared a commonality. Each possessed a soul that is precious and that Jesus died to save. When one can begin to look at others through Jesus' eyes, one can begin to love more fully. That is the biggest lesson I want to take away. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

June 6th-Wudassi Clinic

Today we worked with over 350 beautiful men, women, and children. We were given the opportunity to leave a fingerprint on the lives of multiple artistic children. We learned more about the beauty of the Ethiopian culture and experienced more of their hospitality while working side by side for a greater purpose. I once again argued that my beloved Italians introduced the Ethiopians to coffee (our only point of major contention). Altogether an amazing day and a gift from God! Looking forward to another full day tomorrow (and a cup of that amazing coffee!)

June 5th-Cure and The Black Lion

Yesterday was the "between clinic" day for our group. The missionaries set up tours of both the Ethiopian branch of Cure Hospital as well as the local government hospital, the Black Lion. Cure is a non for profit organization that has hospitals in ten different countries providing both medical and spiritual care to those from all around who would not normally be able access care. The Black Lion is the government run facility and the go-to place for those who cannot afford private healthcare. The conditions of many of the patients in the Black Lion gave the team a glimpse of how blessed we are and lit a fire to the opportunity we have to share that blessing in the next few days. We will be working in a local clinic (Wudassie Clinic) which has provided a beautiful location for us to set up and run our clinic as well as offering a place for diagnostic testing and follow-up. Please pray that the team continues to be a blessing to all those we serve. Thankful to be in Africa!

June 4th-Fitche

Waking up to the sounds of roosters and the Sunni Muslim chants reminds our team of the foreign nation we have been blessed to serve and experience over the past few days. Yesterday we were up early for a two hour drive to the northern town of Fitche. Up in the mountains, the air was pure, the scenery incredible, and it was nothing for one to imagine it looking similar in Bible days. Once in the village, the beauty was joined by the desperate physical and Spiritual needs of so many precious souls. We had a few kinks to work out, but who doesn't when you drive a mobile clinic and thirteen faranji (or foreigners) around the Ethiopian countryside. After Fitch, we traveled to a School where we treated numerous children, many of which were HIV positive. All wanted to touch the foreigners and get a piece of us (waterbottle, pen, etc.) When the bubbles came out, the children went wild-or so we thought. After wrapping up clinic our leader pulled out a giant bag of candy. It was worse than free pizza day in elementary school! We continue to be blessed by so much, particularly the hospitality of the missionaries and the welcoming of several local friends working as translators. please continue to pray for our efforts. We have been able to connect many patients with follow up through the Wudassi clinic and will have the opportunity to work in it at the end of the week. Thank you all for your support!

June 3rd-Korah

Jetlag is an ugly brute, but it does allow for an update. Korah was incredible. You enter the dump and the smell permeates your every pore. You see the flies and think, "Dear God please don't let one land on me!" The stigma of Korah carried by the travelers does not ever touch that of the one held by the Ethiopians. TB, leprosy, and HIV are just a few of the diseases plaguing the people. None can afford ongoing care, if any, so things like diabetes, hypertension, and leprosy go untreated. We paired into teams and set up stations to treat the patients.

My station's first patient was a crippled old man with active leprosy. Talk about getting over your queezy-ness quickly. We also treated a lady with a goiter the size of a large apple, several severely malnourished women with unmanaged HIV, and everything from wounds to pneumonia. Many patients we were able to connect to the local clinic that we we are working with and get their information for follow-up. That is where the locals who served as translators proved priceless. All had grown up in the area and could identify the shack or the tree or the family of the patient to ensure follow up. The clinic is able to provide many services for both those who can pay and those who cannot. For things like HIV, they connect the people with the proper resources to plug into a management program. The most exciting patient my station had was an older gentleman who had been blind for years. One of our Doctor's wives brought eyeglasses and was able to fit him with a proper pair. I must admit, I was skeptical and thinking there was no way we could help him based on the film and scar tissue covering his eyes. However, there was no denying the "whoop" He let out as the last pair was placed over his eyes. He was physically jumping for joy and kissing and hugging us! The excitement was electric and I was faced with my intense lack of faith in God's provision and ability to use those whom are willing. He doesn't ask us to get our Masters degree and cure cancer before He can use us, He just says come with the faith of a child. 

Please continue to pray for the team. Today we leave early for the mountains to work in a village. Please pray that our supplies last and that we are able to share God's love.

June 2nd-Ethiopia

A beautiful cup of strong, black Ethiopian coffee and an early morning run with the brave=bring on this day! Now to remember to not sing in the shower (for "fear" of the water)!!

Tomorrow morning, our team begins our ministry at a place called Korah. Here exists a Community of 120,000 outcasts of Society eating, sleeping, and surviving off of the city dump -many suffering from HIV, Tuberculosis, and other serious medical conditions. Due to their status, many have never had medical treatment and exist without hope. Please pray as we offer them medical treatment as well as share the                   unfathomable love of Christ.

June 1st-Ethiopia

So thankful to have landed safety in Ethiopia. Thank You for the prayers. Orientation begins very soon. Excited for the Ethiopian fare- So far the goat is amazing! A huge thank you to Bethel Baptist church for helping us at the airport with all of the extra supplies! Also a huge thank you to the lady with the television in customs who distracted the officers from our medical supplies. God is good.