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Friday, May 24, 2013

There are Days . . .

 . . when I briefly consider whether I can go on.  When the stress and sadness of working on the edge of life just seems like too much, when the losses accumulate and threaten to overwhelm.  This week it was Tuesday afternoon.  I nearly missed a monthly meeting for the Bethany Kids department (Paediatric surgery and Neurosurgery), we were receiving one admission after the other, two babies who had become dangerously jaundiced and infected and dehydrated at home, another born prematurely with a spinal cord defect.  In between examining and evaluating and supervising the inerns' orders, I was shuttling between nurses and departments trying to sort our overflowing wards in such a way that the limited oxygen could reach everyone who was struggling to breathe.  I had a student sick with what looked like it could have been a serious, life-threatening illness (it wasn't, she's fine, but missionary kids are targets of spiritual attack and I carry that burden heavily).  I was on call so trying to catch up on critically ill patients for the evening, including a little girl who was deteriorating after brain surgery to remove a tumor and a baby who was being ventilated because of damage his lungs sustained at birth. Miscommunication with a surgical service had frustrated me. And never far from my mind and heart, thoughts about my own child who was stuck in a dorm room for two weeks with not much to do or look forward to after a friend canceled a planned visit.  And a foster-son who was going through a serious struggle, all over a scratchy hard-to-follow phone line.  Scott was already gone all week to WHM leadership meetings in Spain.  So all the responsibility of home was also on my shoulders, for food and homework and communication and dogs and laundry.  Oh, and of course, a minor bacterial infection just for good measure, leaving me nauseated and weary.
(Baby Bina, our tiniest preemie yet, 580 grams/25 weeks and still fighting strong at 2 weeks old.) 

On days like that I don't really look forward to the conference which starts tomorrow, the triennial all-fields meeting of World Harvest.  Sure the break from the relentless pace of work and need sounds appealing, and the location should be lovely.  But after two decades in this business, I'm supposed to be one of those senior sorts of people who will overflow grace and peace and love to others, who will fly in ready to minister.  Who will listen with wisdom and have just the right insight.  Who has this whole messy work/life/family/ministry balance in relative equilibrium, as an example and encouragement to others.

Instead of being someone who walked the short dirt path from home to hospital with tears dripping down and stomach in a knot, whose prayer disciplines have weakened, whose stretched heart keeps reaching a breaking point.

But then the Spirit reminded me:  ministry from weakness is a core value of our mission.  One of those little phrases that sounds pious and humble, but feels completely out of control in real life.  That it's OK to come to the conference worn out and wobbly, and to enter into conversations with nothing much to impart.

Because we're there to impart Jesus.  Only.  And that's enough.


lauradodson said...

Thank you for slinging it out in the hard places. Y'all are both doing amazing work. Overwhelming work. Eternal work. Cast all your cares upon HIM for He cares for YOU. Jesus knows that your are but dust. Thank you for sharing your lives with people you do not even know.

Anonymous said...

And sometimes, surely, it would be okay for the senior people to be ministered TO. Please take care of yourself, and rest if you can.

tscarlet said...

Thank you for sharing this. Because what good is it for those of us just starting out on this journey to have the impression that we will one day get to the place where we can handle all of this easily? What a good reminder that no matter our years of experience, we will always need His strength and grace to accomplish His work.

Michelle Webb said...

Thanks for this post. Prayers are for all you working there. My husband and I will be coming to Kijabe at the end of July/beginning of August. Hope to get you meet you in person. Husband working pathology. I'm a pharmacist but will have our two young children so will be watching them while he works. Hope to be able to help as well. Bless you! You are doing good work!
-Michelle Webb