One of the most common questions I get asked is how long do you think you'll do this? My usual answer:
I will do this until one of two things happens.
One, I run out of funding. I am entirely dependent on the generosity of friends and family and if the funding ever dries up... well, that's it for me. (so if you want to keep reading a blog about this crazy life I lead, donate by the link to the right. Otherwise you might have to start reading a blog full of me whining about how corporate America is sucking out my soul. Not to be dramatic or anything.)
Two, something better comes along. Now really, can you imagine such a thing? What could possibly be better than exploring new cultures and serving in love and moving to a new country every year without ever even having to pack?? and my community and friends come along with me?? It's awesome. I love my job and it has turned on a passion in me that I never knew existed. I say "something better" may come along because I hold my future loosely, and never want to put God in a box by deciding now what my life will look like in three years' time. Three years ago I would never have guessed I'd be championing safer surgery in Madagascar, but here I am. Right where I belong.
Across the harbor there was a ship docked for almost a week called "wisdom lines". Wouldn't it be awesome if you could just call them up and order a 40foot container full of wisdom whenever you needed it?
So I've had this sore thumb/wrist problem for awhile. Like, a month. Or maybe two.
Ok, you have to know two things about me as I continue this story: one, I have an extremely high pain tolerance. and two, I ignore injury. I'm the girl that will look down on a random day and see a welt the size of a grapefruit on my shin of various shades of red and purple and yellow and say "oh, wonder where that came from". I can't possibly be bothered to stop what I am doing and give any recognition to any type of pain that might be registering. especially if I am playing a competitive sport (ultimate Frisbee) or on a mission of some kind (trip and fall up the stairs on my way to a meeting). I'm the girl that lived with a 90% tear of my rotator cuff for six months before seeing a surgeon... who promptly said "what the heck were you thinking?".
So one of my doctor friends told me she thought it might be fractured. and I said nah, whatever. it's fine. She said no really. I said nah, really not. Then she said if you put it off and you could die. And I said okay I'll go get xrays. Because of all the ways to go, a wrist fracture would be rather anticlimactic.
So I saw the crew physician and got xrays and it's not fractured but I have other issues and then I got referred down to our incredible physio team which happens to have a hand specialist here right now.
I don't know for sure, its been a long time since I lived in America and had to pay for medical care. But I'm guessing a visit to the doc, several xrays, and a referral to a hand specialist, where I get braces and exams and exercises and any variety of other lovely healing-type things I need... I'm thinking that is not cheap. Or easy. And all of this is within about a hundred steps of my cabin or office. In Madagascar. Except physio, that's aaaaallll the way down on the dock. Sometimes I get stuck in commuter traffic on my way down the gangway and it might take me all of four minutes.
I am so blessed. And so grateful.
Someone asked me yesterday what I like to do in my spare time.
I said well, last Tuesday night I decided not to work late and I went to play with the kids in the local hospital pediatric ward. Then I told him about all the other cool stuff we get to do, like love on babies in an orphanage and show the elderly how to make silly crafts and smile and share the joy of just doing life together.
Then I told him but my most favorite thing is making and serving coffee to the AFM crew on Sunday mornings with my freaking awesome friend Dianna, and I get to meet such amazing people that I wouldn't have the opportunity to know any other way, and the community that gathers and caffeinates together is a special place that I love.
He said, "....so, you're a volunteer... and in your spare time, you volunteer?"
yeah. is that weird?
Someone asked what is the hardest thing for you doing what you do? My answer was a fresh one.
The hardest thing about doing this thing that I do is not being a long way from home, although that is hard. it's not relying on generosity of others, although that too is hard. It's not the lack of freedom, the cultural difficulties, the language barriers, or the lack of familiarity, though those things are hard too.
The hardest thing is seeing the reality of life here... and not allowing hopelessness to creep in.
I had a Malagasy friend call me yesterday from Tana where he is with his gravely ill father. He has worked with me and Mercy Ships for several months and knows what good medical care looks like. He knows that a hospital can be a place of hope and healing and not a place of death and disease. He knows how healing love and joy can be. And he's in a hospital in Tana where his father is getting none of those things. His heart wrenching words of "Krissy, they don't care about him here." brought me to tears. That is what we are trying to change, fighting tooth and nail to break down the barriers and the practices to speak and show life and love and joy to those desperate for it, to bring hope and healing. And it's phone calls like that that make me wonder how on earth my little band of educators could really make a difference. It seems so inadequate; a drop in the bucket. And if I'm not careful, the sinister whisper of darkness can creep in and hiss it isn't worth it. you can't really make a difference.
Crush that slithering voice right out. It IS worth it. I do believe it when I say one transformed person can transform a hospital which can transform a nation. It doesn't happen overnight and that's where we come in, persevering and pushing and hoping and praying for the individuals and the masses; not allowing the size of the bucket to deter us from the scientific fact that enough drops will eventually fill it.
And as a friend reminded me yesterday as I fought to contain the tears; any day you go for a run you are lapping the guy sitting on the couch. At least we are doing something and something can be used a whole lot more by God and by a nation than sitting on the couch eating nachos, watching what is happening but doing nothing.
So I'm gonna keep on doing something and hoping it turns into some kind of great thing - for His glory.