To say that God has spoken a message to me during this trip would be an understatement. He has not done it in the way I had hoped-- by handling all my administrative tasks with clear direction and efficiency, but he has ministered to me about the spiritual side of things, proving once again my point that I honestly think I gain more from my trips here than I give.
The first thing I posted here was about brokenness and finding things broken when you didn't want them to be. Since then, through the email of a friend, my readings, the blog of an organization here that we just met, Bible verses, and talking to others here, God has brought up the word "broken" enough times that it would be almost comical if I weren't so in awe of it.
The clear message is this: broken does not mean "finished" to God. Perhaps it's an American way of thinking-- throw it out and start over with newer/better. Perhaps it's my desire to not always be in the mess (I prefer the fairy tale version of things). I know clearly now, though, that God is very much with the broken, and in the broken places. In fact, I even know that He prefers to break me open, to reshape me if needed, or pour me out like perfume at Jesus' feet.
One of the things he showed me this week was something that said, "not broken, just scarred." This is where we are now in our ministry. We have seen some things that need to be addressed. This does not (at least not yet) mean the end of the road. It means that there may be a painful process of rebuilding the broken places, but God is pretty much the expert at that.
Robert and Kaitlynn have done a good bit of wound care at the clinics this week.
One of the things we see a lot here are jiggers. They are little sand fleas that lay eggs under the skin of your feet. Their larvae have to be removed, and are painful. Many many many African children have jiggers. Robert and Kaitlynn worked on one little boy's feet for four hours straight the other day. He cried, I'm pretty sure they did too, and they were completely exhausted at the end of that day. They could have chosen to wash his feet, put bandaids on them, and say they would pray for him. They didn't, though. They had seen him the day before at the clinic, examined his feet, realized they were in over their heads, and asked him to come back the next day. They then came back to the hotel and spoke to the medical team and to Africans who know how to remove them. They also watched several YouTube videos and even did some research to be sure they were jiggers and not bot flies, which require a different approach. They got the help of another team member (an Aggie!), and during the process, they had an African watching and showing them "a better way."
But then they looked into the eyes of the person they were helping. The person for whom it was also painful and exhausting and tiresome, and they kept going. They had to. They were brought here for this purpose.
These faces are the reason that I cannot put a bandaid on a problem and pray that someone else will help. Will it be long? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Painful? Possibly beyond what I can bear.
But I will handle it in the way God has shown me this week. I will consider it broken, but not let that mean finished. I will seek wise counsel. I will do research. I will prepare myself for the task at hand. I will be willing to wade through the mess. I will be ever so grateful that I am not alone in this process, because others care about these faces too. I will allow God to use me as He fixes this. I will remember that I CAN'T, so I will not say things like, "I can't." I will say things like, "God is The Way. He binds up the brokenhearted." I will remember that often, when God is done binding, things look and feel differently than they did before. I will trust him with this.
Until God closes a door here, I will be here. It will not always be success stories and great pictures. It will sometimes be messy and exhausting and frustrating and heart breaking. I will sometimes want to quit, but I will recognize that doesn't mean I should. And I will wait, expectantly, for the glory God has on the other side.
I love every one of you for praying with me and for me during this trip. Please continue to lift up these precious children and trust with me that God has this.
We head home this afternoon, so are excited to see our family, but still a bit weepy from the goodbyes here.
There is so much more about our trip, and I will continue to post as I sort through it! There are new ministries and new friends I want to introduce to you, pictures worth a thousand words, and stories that will make you laugh and cry.
See you stateside!