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Archive for June, 2012

Healthcare in Haiti (Day 1)

If you had an army of a thousand doctors and nurses (and pharmacists and…and…and) with a bottomless well of medicines and supplies, working 28 hours a day non-stop for a year, maybe you could begin to make a dent in Haiti.

We have a much more modest team.

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Our first stop was at an orphanage. We treated about 35 kids, with maladies ranging from scabies to fungal infections to an abscess.

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The orphans were wonderfully grateful:

We then went to a village (where some of our construction folks had previously put up an impressive roof on a church building – welcome shade!), and there saw about 90-100 more people. Lots of kids, though one of our healthiest patients was 93 years old (a rare lifespan in this country).

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We kept Dr. Early and our Haitian doc, Reginald, quite busy. A number of the kids end up with intestinal worms, which happily is taken care of with a single pill. For the other medications, we have to translate directions into Creole.

We got to hand out candy and toys to the kids, who truly appreciate every gesture of love (especially playing around with them).

In the United States, we have had vigorous discussion about healthcare in recent years. I must say, it is nice to leave that behind for a while and focus on real, on-the-ground medical care, where a simple antibiotic and some vitamins can make a real difference!

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And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 NASB)

One thing that is striking about this passage is that Jesus makes a completely unexpected valuation. Bypassing the (relatively) large donations of those with disposable income, He highlights the poor, anonymous, insignificant person who gives sacrificially out of loving devotion – not out of ostentatious excess.

I love the fact that Jesus notices what matters. What folly for us to measure ourselves by our wallets! Jesus sees right through all that and gazes at the heart.

Here in Haiti, the poverty is immense. Yet there are many Haitian people who are cheerful and kind givers. And while those of us who come over from a first-world country are relatively wealthy, when you view the vast need, you truly feel like the poor widow, about to cast a penny into a vast landscape of brokenness.

We are all impoverished before God, especially in anything relating to spiritual life and genuine holiness. My comfort is, that in any place, any circumstance, we can take our tiny little donations of ourselves – poor as we are – and God will receive us. Not only in Haiti, but in any pathway we all find ourselves today.

May the poverty out of which we give lead to true riches for others.

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Iridescent

Dancing and shimmering in the cool breeze, a fresh spider web reflected the dawn’s rays from its perch in the red maple above our deck.

It looked, for all the world, like the wings of a dragonfly – shades of electric blue and seductive purple and shameless red, pulsating to an unseen rhythm with the reflecting sun playing off its silken strands.

The arachnid architect had no awareness of the beauty it had spun. This, to him, was a meal ticket. But to his Designer, it was art – an intricate blueprint of glorious structure, made to capture not only flies, but also human eyes and imagination. It was a symphony of silk, a rainbow captured and displayed in strands instinctively woven overnight by an 8-legged maestro.

A web of wonder, made to fill human eyes and souls with a sense of their glorious Creator. He who is a generous and imaginative Artist, even when the masterpiece is for trolling the sky for unwitting insects.

For the spider, a fresh dinner will be the reward. For us, the reward is exceedingly greater. A fresh opportunity to worship.

Photo credit: Anne Campisi via Flickr

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When I give talks to clients about social networking, I remind them that Google is the new resume – when someone wants to know about you, by and large, the new default setting is to “Google” you.

Google finds, and rarely forgets.

And, if you’re connected on Facebook or don’t have your privacy settings restricted, there’s a wealth of information there as well.

Is privacy dead? Well, in the digital space, not really – there’s a TON of stuff that never gets revealed. You can put up some pictures here and there, tweet some ideas, compose your status throughout the day – but the vast majority of your thoughts, desires, motives, actions, and “status updates” remain unseen and unknown, even by you at times. We clearly see only a fraction of each others’ lives, and even of our own.

But then there’s this, from Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Our timeline, our status (past, present, and future), our snapshots, our thoughts, our words – all of them, every one, is seen by our Creator. Privacy settings? -there are none. Opt out? -sorry.

We all keep many secrets from each other, and rightly so. Unless you are totally out of touch with reality, you know there is darkness in every human soul, and the most horrifying possible occurrence would be for everyone to truly know what you’re thinking at any given moment. Can you imagine walking into a social setting and having people be able to see, like a scrolling Facebook status, every thought or desire that passes through your mind?

But, it’s already true. Right now. Denying God is like trying to shut a door that is free-standing in a wide open field. No secrets. No privacy. No hiding. Full exposure. 24/7.

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching over the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

This is a terrifying thought for some. But for those who are living in growing transparency in the fear of God – those who confess their rampant sinfulness, and receive grace from an all-knowing yet all-loving Father – it is a comfort.

You know me. All the dirt, all the warts. And receive me anyway.

Such knowledge is too wonder-full for me.

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Living in Wanderment

I really should know better.

You walk with God for a number of years, you know the difference between sin and righteousness, you know your heart is deceitful, you should be fully on guard against wandering off the path.

And yet, I wander. Wanderment instead of wonderment; selfishness instead of joyful humility.

A little greed here, a little lust there, perhaps a bit of shading the corner off the truth – it seems like such a small thing. One step off the path – hey, it’s easy to return! Maybe two steps. Soon the path is no longer visible, and we’re surrounded by the weeds of wandering.

Now what?

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

(Psalm 32:1-5, NIV)

The wanderer needs to stop. Look up. Repent of acts of selfish stupidity. Receive pardon.

And return to the path. With clean hands and a fresh start. And, hopefully, a bit wiser.

Image Credit: Brandon Grasley via Flicker

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