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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Four Pillars

As we pulled through the first week of CSB and getting ready to go to Kenya for our CMDA conference, I noticed with thankfulness four pillars who support our team: the "singles", as they are collectively titled, when their group is distinguished from the families.  Single people face a unique set of challenges on the mission field, not the least of which is that they have no spouse or family to cushion their loneliness when leaving home in America, and no buffer of continuity as others come and go.  And as a group who are younger and generally on a 18 month to 2 year time-line, they can sometimes feel peripheral or temporary.  But on our team, they are a core of strength.  Our teachers, for instance, are so much more than that.  Anna and Ashley do teach, but they also function as most of  the other positive adult influence kids from our culture have in their lives:  aunts, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, family friends, coaches, camp counselors, baby-sitters, role models, you name it.  This week Anna was on loan to the Sudan team to make their retreat time possible by teaching and encouraging the Masso kids, while Ashley took it upon herself to not only pack up curriculum for teaching our kids while in Kenya but also to think of art supplies, balls, recipes, and general life.  They make up what is lacking in the lives of MKs who have busy, distracted, stressed, or otherwise struggling mothers!  I guess that's been obvious for years.  The long line of teachers who have made our life possible in Bundibugyo have done so by taking a VERY broad view of the word "teacher".  They are joined by nurse Heidi, who has lots going on in her own life and growth, but from my view of the Universe was placed in Bundi because God knew I would otherwise not have survived.  It is invaluable to have a colleague who gets me, and is a friend, as well as one who does a lot of the behind-the-scenes administration that keeps the medical care flowing.  And Nathan, who spans both of those roles as a teacher as well as the primary point person for the BBB outpatient nutrition program.  We offered rather late for him to come to the CMDA conference with us, since he's entering med school next year.  He decided to stay in Bundi.  As we packed up yesterday morning, and Scott was handing over this thing to do and that thing to check on, we were getting in the car feeling a bit guilty about leaving him there, and a scene from Sahara (great movie) came to my mind.  In the scene the young hero-character calls his boss with a grim report on the situation at hand.  The boss says "I can't ask you to go in there" and the young man, who is of course just about to do the dangerous and impossible, replies "that's just the thing sir, you know you don't have to."  Nathan's that kind of guy.

Today I'm thankful for all four of these brave souls, who put up with us, with a difficult culture and living situation, with lonely separation from family and friends.  We are grateful for families too, of course, the Clarks who are nearing the one-year mark and the Johnsons who landed in Africa last night.  But a team takes a good mix of people, and we really need our "singles", pillars in the temple.

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