Friday, February 13, 2009

be still and know

one and a half months into the new year of 2009 and i sit here writing this wondering if life could get much better. sure, there are things i could wish for if i thought hard enough, and life has not always been easy or without changes and challenges, but i am learning that there is a certain level of contentment that comes from knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and that God is working all out for good in the midst of it… a contentment deeper than anything this life can offer… a contentment which then allows you to enjoy the things that God has blessed you with in the midst. and even when "in the midst" isn't easy, and just when you start to feel like things are getting too hard, god seems to send little reminders of His love and grace your way...

this past month has been full. we have had many visitors that have brought encouragement and smiles, laughter and help. from preaching and leading worship to helping make meals to doing clinics to cleaning out dirty bodegas, each person that has come through has added to our ministry here in their own way. something that has been spoken to us quite a bit lately is on the importance of all of us working as the body of christ. down here, we get a very personal view of each person who comes through as we all live together and work together and often eat meals together, even if just for a week. through all the different personalities, ages, maturity levels, stages in life, areas where we live, and extremely varied personal life stories, each one brings with them a different glimpse of god's heart and how He has worked in their lives and is continuing to.... and how He takes all of our strengths and weaknesses to form us into the body of christ.

with the many people who come through, however, it is not often that we get to host a team of guatemalans. despite a rough start involving a 12 hour drive from the city, a team of 25 people arrived from the church el shaddai in the city one friday night to help us with our weekend clinic. spending the night in tents on the front lawn due to the fact that the "hotel reservations" they made somehow got filled with other people, they woke up early in the morning ready to start the day. many of these people had not been in conditions or areas like canilla (despite the fact that they live a 25 minute flight away), yet they came to serve god, the patients, and us... and they did. with constant smiles, good attitudes and laughter, we all worked from about 8:30 in the morning until about 7:00 at night. despite feelings of exhaustion that must have been there, they still took time at the end of the day to stand around us in prayer, praying specifically for our ministry and family and those that work along with us. i cannot explain in written word what it was like to serve alongside of guatemalans serving their own people with such patience and love and then covering us with prayers as well. they truly were an example of servanthood and an encourgament to keep perservering... i pray that this a connection we will continue to build on.

clinics have continued to be full of patients and challenges as well. the little hydrocephaly baby, who we now believe may have sturg-webers syndrome, spent about a month in the hospital where she had a shunt placed which got infected soon after. the doctor pulled the shunt and then was gone for the next few weeks, so baby helen and her mama sat in the hospital waiting. by the time the doctor got back, he did another ct scan which showed that the fluid on her brain had "spontaneously healed" itself. we praised god along with this mama as she watched her baby play and eat with an alertness she had never seen. however a week later, she came back to the clinic with her little baby showing again with symptoms that her hydrocephaly had returned. on a rollercoaster that we only catch the glimpse of, it is heart-wrenching at times to know how to comfort and really reach this family in the midst of this situation. not wanting to offer unrealistic hope, we struggle to know how much to encourage these parents to pursue exams and procedures that may or may not help prolong the life of their little daughter and would take money that they do not have. as her mom expressed to us a few weeks ago with tears streaming down her cheeks that they have decided to not pursue further treatment, we have now found ourselves each week, whether baby helen seems better or worse, praying with the mom and laying her baby in God's hands again, holding onto His sovereignty, justice, love, and grace in their lives.

and in a story that seems to be becoming almost commonplace, a couple weeks ago i was able to talk with an older indian lady who came in with complaints of not being able to sleep. the conversation led through her life situation and her relationship with her husband, sons and god. able to laugh over certain aspects, about 10 minutes into the conversation, she scooched her chair closer to flor (our translator) and leaned across the desk to whisper to her that her husband would not let her go to church and that he told her that he would kick her out of the house if she went. at this point flor and i talked with her about how god wants her heart, not just her church attendance, and, although this may be an important part of our faith and discipleship, not going to church would not prevent her from having a relationship with god. as we led her through a prayer of salvation, i prayed that her repeating of the words would truly allow the love of god to penetrate down into her heart. in a culture so wracked with physical abuse and addictions and hardened hearts towards the gospel, i am starting to realize that God is the only one who can truly effect the change that is needed... a change that reaches beyond a "womans' rights movement" or a weekend revival or a womans battered shelter and orphanage... a change that goes deep into the hearts of the people - especially the men - of this country. something that would at one time in my life have felt like "sitting back and doing nothing" now seems to be growing in my mind and heart as the only hope we as a people truly have... prayer. and not just lip service, but an interceding for the injustices we see and a searching out God's heart and desires for this country and His people.

and this takes time. we as a ministry and family have decided to make wednesdays our day of sabbath. when we first felt god leading us into this, i don't think that we all realized how important this was. however, as changes come and we grow and get busier, i am realizing that this is the thing that keeps us grounded. a day where we can clear our minds and heart before our god and also have have some fun and relax time with family and friends, as the allisons said on their blog... it is a day we all look forward to by the time it gets here each week.

and when things get crazy and it seems like it just may spin completely out of control, there is a time to lay down our weapons and to simply "be still before our god and know that He is god..."