Friday, March 19, 2010

A Note from Dave

As I reflect on this past week and our Medical Team's experience in Nicaragua, I keep coming back to one word, "emotions." Last year's mission experience was my first. Everyone told us that we would be changed by the experience. I was open to the idea that we might be changed a little, but had no idea just how deeply the mission would get into my head and into my heart. I still struggle to maintain my composure while recounting some of last year's encounters without shedding a few tears.
It should go without saying that seeing 176 or 187 people in a single day requires a lot of focus, cooperation, and patience all day long on everyone's part. I can not come close to describing how well the team worked together. Several of us (Drs. Mike Smith and John Myers, Nurse Nancy Haegle, Miss Ann Simmons, Andi Wallace, and I) had worked together last year with assistance from Fedelina. This year we were blessed the addition of Dr. Keith Speed who had worked on several missions in Honduras, Dental Hygenist Shannon Richkowski, Nurse Virginia Cabero, Joy Anna Rowell, Charles Stanley, Pamela Rowell, Rafael, Alex, and local teachers and community leaders. We started with a little confusion at times, but thanks to the language skills, versatility, and flexibility of individuals like Virginia, Dr. Smith's ER management experience and guidance, and Joy Anna's quick study of Spanish instructions, the patients moved through the process pretty smoothly.
This year I had the previous year's experience to fall back on, but I was still surprised by the extent the people we met and our mission team moved me. The people we saw were patient and gracious. Everyone on the team gave a tremendous effort each day. Still we struggled with the questions of "What about the ones we did not see or could not help?" and "Who will help them once we have left?" This was tough emotionally. We would have liked to healed or given comfort to all, but clearly in light of the conditions there, this was not possible, for us. As we left each community we celebrated the numbers that God had enabled us to help and prayed that He would extend his care to those we had not seen.
Last year I had a little voice (Andi's) whispering in my ear to continue on the tasks, but remember the mission! This did not sink in so well until reflection on that mission experience afterwards told me that I had missed many opportunities to speak of God and his love. I prayed for opportunities and God's help to make this happen this time. My prayers were answered. Many of the patients I spoke with began a dialogue expressing gratitude for our help and offered a, "God bless you". This was followed with my response that it was our team's desire to serve and to share God's love.
We made a visit again this year to the rehabilitation center. It was a tough, long first day, but at the end I had the opportunity to address the assembled group. I explained that they were in the hearts and prayers of the church congregations we represented. I explained that while we came to provide medical assistance, our primary mission was to share God's love with them.
It was a great week.

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