Jesus Christ, the Man for Others,
We, your children, make our prayer:
Give us grace to love as brothers
All whose burdens we can share
(From hymn Father, Lord of all Creation)
Bill Curry’s medical brigade was here last week. As always it was wonderful. Hundreds of people were seen by the US and Honduran doctors. They left with bags filled with meds we take for granted that are completely inaccessible to them – Tylenol, cough drops, tums, worm pills (well, OK, we don’t take them often in the US!) and more. Babies were held, children hugged, little old men proposed to (by me, much to the delight of the little old ladies present!) thousands of stickers stuck to hands and shirts, countless smiles exchanged. A great time was had by all.
In my blog I often write about events from the Northamerican point of view – what an experience meant to us/me. This time I want to present an event from a Honduran’s point of view, with some artistic license on my part…
“I got up early this morning. Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s death. She would have been 28. I still look for her to walk in the door. I can hear her laugh. I think I see her out of the corner of my eye. I turn quickly to call out to her but she isn’t there. It breaks my heart all over again. With a heavy heart I put on my orange vest and grabbed my broom to go to work sweeping streets. I guess this government program is good, although it doesn’t pay much and often they don’t pay us for months. I don’t have any other work so every day I sweep and hope in the hot sun and driving rain. I heard about a clinic happening in a church. I stopped by to see a doctor. They gave me a number but it was at the end of a long line. I can’t be away from work that long. Just as I was about to leave, a woman called me to the door of the clinic and said, “Come in. We’ll take you right now.” I was surprised. I am used to being at the end of the line. Soon it was my turn to see the doctor. He smiled at me and said something in English that sounded nice. The Honduran lady translated everything he said. I was telling him about my aches and pains when suddenly my daughter came into my head. I couldn’t help myself and started to cry. I explained to them what had happened. The doctor stopped what he was doing and listened to me. I could see tears in his eyes. This northamerican doctor came from so far away to be in my little village and he stopped to listen to me. Then the lady from the door appeared and they all began to pray for me. They put their hands on me and prayed while I cried for my precious daughter. When we said amen, I felt different. As I stood to leave, the doctor hugged me. My clothes were so dirty and his were so clean but he hugged me. My heart still hurts for my daughter but I feel lighter somehow. I left with a bag full of medicine but so much more. Is this what Jesus meant when He said He will always be with us?”
While medicine happened last week, it was love that flowed through the clinics each day. From little Jenny who greeted us as the vans pulled into her impoverished village, to the elderly woman who made us the most delicious semitas (sweet buns), to Dr. Jill, the optometrist, who saw almost every one of the 618 patients, to all the local volunteers, to the brigade team who gave of their time, talent and treasure, to the patient who told Dr. Bill that an angel in heaven sent him to shoot cortizone (painfully) in her knee, to every person who gave God's blessing to one another, to the grandpas waiting for hours in the hot sun to bring their grandchildren to see a doctor, to the Honduran translators (including Suzy's daughters) who go so far above and beyond the call of duty, and finally to Dr. Bill who gave his shoes to a member of my airport family.
There is a common denominator in all the LAMB teams. They come laden with crates and suitcases full of meds, clothes, school supplies, games, etc. but Love is what they bring.
"God, through us your love make known"
(From hymn Father, Lord of all Creation)
A couple weeks ago I was asked to fill in as a homilist at Sunday Eucharist. I was given about 48 hours notice, which is considered “advanced” notice in this culture. It was an opportunity I was grateful for. The chapel is called “The Chapel of the Melanesian Martyrs.” In an upcoming post I will share a bit more about the martyrs to whom the chapel is dedicated.
Worship in the Anglican Church of Melanesia tends to be Anglo-Catholic in style, and features incense, vestments, and familiar hymns and creeds. There are, however, many distinctive Melanesian features (you can probably see my bare feet!) that I continue to discover.
When asked which way she was facing, the Queen (Louise’s mother) at first said she would need to think about it…but soon she said clearly and with great conviction: “I am facing outwards…what I see in the picture is my past and it is behind me. My future, known only to God, lies before me…outside the picture.” I believe she is right. While we can look back over our lives and see the path that God has taken us – and though we can scrutinize that path and observe the Lord’s presence with us along the way – we simply cannot see one millisecond ahead of us. Our future is known only to God, and so it wise to leave it in His hands.
So here’s my question: If the future is known only to God, why do we fret over tomorrow? If we look back over our lives and see His constant presence with us, why do we look forward into the future as if He is somehow absent?
When Louise and I teach the Disciple Making
(Strategy) Training Module, we always see the lights come on during the lesson
on the timeline of Peter’s growth as a disciple. Perhaps there is a little bit
of Peter in everyone of us and we can identify with his reluctance in the
beginning, his zeal as a young follower of Jesus, his bravado as his
self-confidence grew, his despair as he failed to meet his unrealistic
expectations, his embarrassment and his lack of confidence after his very
public denial, and his final surrender to the Lord…the place where he needed to
be all along…where to be the rock solid leader he was destined to be he had to
be solidly and squarely founded on the Rock of all Ages. Clergy and lay leaders
have a hard life. Expectations all around are unrealistic…and they often try to
meet those expectations in their own strength…and when they fail, people can be
cruel. But not so Jesus…As with Peter He gently leads us back to the task of
feeding the sheep; building us up instead of breaking us down.
Perhaps that’s why everyone gets excited at
this point in the training…when Jesus is making us fishers of people, He wins,
He builds, He equips, and He is with us every step of the way as He multiplies
Himself in and through us.
So Peter offers us hope…
Louise and I have been very busy travelling
around only a small part of this huge Province of Southern Africa. It has been
a good experience as it has given us a glimpse into what is happening in the
Anglican Church here. If we could sum it all up in one word, I think that word
would be “tired”…everyone looks tired…some seem to have even given up. They
need hope…they need the story of Peter.
We realise that without prayer, the Word,
and the Holy Spirit, these dry bones simply cannot rise to be the force that
will turn the world upside down. They certainly have the potential…the rock may
be buried under the trials of so many in the Anglican Communion, but it is
still there. Labour with us in prayer until the church’s one foundation is once
more Jesus Christ, Her Lord.
We have done five full training session so
far, most of which have been in the general Gauteng region…only one has been
outside the borders of the South Africa, namely the one held in Swaziland. Over
100 men and women have been trained in the fundamentals of making disciples who
can make disciples. We have also been busy introducing ourselves and the course
to those who either do not know us or who do not know our training material. So
far we have been pleasantly surprised with the kind manner in which we have
been received. In most cases, dates have been set for training to take place in
the respective Dioceses.
It involves a lot of travelling and it is
costly because we have to make use of either air travel or rental vehicles,
plus we have to pay for board and lodging. Some Dioceses have graciously
offered hospitality for which we are always grateful. Pray that the Lord would
provide a reliable vehicle for Growing the Church use.
Health wise we have been very well. Louise
is struggling with her teeth lately and will need extensive dental work soon.
Please pray for this as well as our medical insurance does not cover dental
work. Our children are all doing well. Heyns, Hanna, and Amelia visited us this
past month and soon after their return to the US they let us know that they are
to have a baby boy some time in December! Hanno, Lauren, Jeremiah, Beatrix, and
Constance are all doing well…Constance now has hearing aids and will have
cochlear implants in the New Year. We do miss them all so much and wish we
could see them more often…part of our cross, I suppose.
We are in Villiersdorp visiting the Queen and
Louise’s family today, but we will be leaving for East London tomorrow. After
training there, we will come back down again to George where we will do two
training sessions back to back. Following that I leave for the Provincial
Standing Committee Meeting in Johannesburg and will stay on that week to do a
Diocesan-wide training session shortly afterwards.
Somewhere in the mix, we have to find space
for Mozambique as well…
Pray that the folks we train will be
energised and mobilized by the hope we find in the story of Peter…pray for a
move of the Holy Spirit second to none throughout southern Africa…pray for rain…
We love and miss you all. We pray for you
and lift you up before the throne of mercy and grace. Thank you for being our
rope holders…bless you, one and all.
Johann and Louise