Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Be Used

I was asked what it was that we did in Peru. I should have been more prepared. The trip just seemed like a dream, it went by so fast. And the question came across as desiring more than what was on the list of activities. It seemed to be looking for what it was we accomplished. Honestly, I can't say for sure what WE accomplished.

It was all so overwhelming. For a person who cherishes her time alone, to not have any time to herself, in any capacity for more than ten days was one thing. Trying to take in all the colors, textures, smells, and sounds as fast and as best as I could, plus do mental gymnastics in an attempt to communicate, was a whole other set of issues. Top that off with sleep deprivation, change in diet, exercise, heat, and humidity - well, it wasn't pretty. I wasn't pretty - inside or out.

So why do I desire to go back to a place where I felt gritty, smelly, slimy, and inadequate? Mostly, because the people there loved me anyway. They didn't expect much from me and accepted what ever entertainment, companionship, and love I had to offer. They gave me more than affection, they touched me with grace. They called me "Sister" and embraced me. Wouldn't it be something if we loved each other like that? If we loved one another not because of what they had to offer us, but because they are depraved flesh and bones like us?

I think the five days we spent there were like a brief field research project in my continuing education on humility. Include the six months of preparation and debriefing and I think I should get a few credit hours. In the back of my mind, I thought we were going to help the poor, but I was shown my own poverty. I thought WE would be the heros of the story and yet it seems that God has graciously allowed us to witness His heroic acts.

I'm including some photos that Brian and Sara took. They are great reminders to me of what my calling is - to be a tool He can use. Whether it is a crooked nail, a piece of hardwood, or a clay pot, I must allow myself to be used for His purpose and for the purpose He created me to be. Being a nail, may not seem as glamorous as a saw, but a saw won't hold the board in place. And, as my photographer friends have taught me, in the right Light and proper perspective, any tool is beautiful.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


As I sort through my feelings after returning home I am pulled in many directions. I'm excited about all of the changes that have taken place through Blackhawk's sponsorship, the construction of several community buildings, the digging of a well, and most recently, electricity and access to water in the homes. Even more important are the personal changes in the community members, such as learning life skills like providing a source of income, banking and saving money, cooking, leadership training, etc. Best of all is that the community members are now taking ownership of the community and working together on goals for the continued growth of La Merced. The church has begun outreach projects to help those in need... they have become the hands and feet of Christ.

That all sounds great, doesn't it? And it is. Their lives have become much easier now, but have we taken something away from them in the process? Will they get modernized to the point of impacting their relationships? Will they become materialistic and with that never be satisfied with what they have? (like us) We wanted to leave the community with the message to trust God to continue to give them what they need after Blackhawk is gone, just like He did when we were there. We need to follow our own advice to pray and trust that God will lead them in using all of these things for good and the advancement of his kingdom. In that sense our work there is not finished.

My perspective on life and my priorities have been changed forever. I don't know why God has chosen to bless me in the way He has, but I cherish every blessing. I am forever grateful to all of the loving people I met in La Merced. I pray that they know that they have blessed me far more than I have blessed them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Some people are so poor...

...all they have is lots of money." It's been 2 days since we arrived back in Wisconsin and this is the quote shared by Ryan from FH I've been thinking about most. It's true that too often being "poor" is defined by the amount of money in a bank account, or the lack of accumulation of "things" like a car, house, or lots of "toys". However living a "rich" life sometimes has little to do with accumulating a lot of money or possessions, especially if the goal is only to please one self.

It's fascinating how much you can learn from children...their attitudes, generosity, honesty and faith and how sometimes when we grow older we can get our priorities and perspective messed up. I learned a lot from the kids and think the richest lives are lived by those who consider every dollar and possession to be a gift - a tool to be used to do good in the lives of others...a life filled with a generous spirit surrounded by a community of strong relationships and one that is focused on others rather than self.

Thank you to all the supporters of our mission and helping to make a difference in the lives of others.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Relationships Rule

It's amazing how quickly I forget that happiness is not based in the abudance of your possessions but in the quality of relationships and people around you. This is one of the lessons I learned once again during our time interacting with the children, adults and team from FH. During our time I gave my camera to the kids to take pictures and it has been fascinating to see through the eyes of a child based on what pictures they take. Below are a few pictures of the kids, playing "drip drip drop" (e.g. duck duck goose) and a boy enjoying a Dr Suess book. Team is doing well and is safe.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Your Love is my Drug

Tonight for our debrief we decided to keep things short because we are all exhausted. Instead of talking about the day, our reactions, and emotions, we instead gave the person on our left a compliment of some kind. As a result of our effort to save time, we ended up having one of the best team moments on the trip. It was awesome to hear the genuine compliments being given. Just before the activity Ben had talked about the possibility of nerves running low at this time of the trip. I feel like no qualm stood a chance against the power of that moment.

So far, this trip has really impacted, challenged, and changed me. However, I have been having a hard time figuring out exactly how I have been impacted and what has changed. I still only have a few answers. Yet I think I have figured something out. When thinking about my future as a physician serving the poor, I have really been focusing on the medicine. I didn't think that there was too much more too it. This trip has shown me the power and joy in building relationships. I have developed relationships with kids who I can't speak with directly in just 5 days. My largest fustration on this trip has been the language barrier. I find myself yearning to go deeper with these people and learn more about their struggles and their joys. I think that a lot of people need love more than they need ibuprofen.

Monday, June 28, 2010

a visual post with a few words

pictures of the last few days. welcome by beautiful sunset, time with families and children, a little construction, lots of laughs.

Pics of what we've been up to...

Below are a few posts of our trip....introduction to the American game of baseball (using the old school wooden bat), Big Ben playing a hard core game of ultimate with locals, getting a work-out helping with the construction project in the community in the 95 degree heat, Babs and "Johnito" (John) teaching a lesson on forgiveness, a pic of the "nino's" (children) and some of the kids showing off their craft activity. Team is doing well and developing some good relationships among ourselves and in the community.