One of my friends makes the audacious claim that our attempts to save others may prove a waste of time as those same others may actually be the location of our own healing. Read More
They waited 30 years. Progress, it was insisted, required the flooding of their village. Most of us would not think destroying a hometown synonymous with progress. What is a people to do in the face of their government? Accept their promises and relocate.
A small cinder block building sits atop the small village. The hope represented by this structure we better health. Year after year village leaders hoped. They waited. Their experience could only be described as unfulfilled promise. Children died. Adults died. Sometimes they died from a condition that could have been prevented by a functioning health post.
Last year an existing partnership pledged support to renovate the small building into a larger structure complete with living quarters for a traveling nurse. Meetings were held with village leaders and a promise was made. One wonders what those leaders must have thought hearing yet another promise. Could it be? Would it be?
Yesterday we drove to Rosario Italia. We we're hear about one year ago. When we crested the hill we saw the fulfillment of a promise. Expanded and painted, the cinder block building now provides space for a nurse, prescriptions, and lodging. All work will be done in a couple of weeks.Thirty years later what this small group of people had anticipated became reality. The most important outcome? Trust. The local organization and their partners brought hope and help where on e they only had a promise.
Listening to the village leaders describe their sense of the future confirmed the investment ASOSAP made to bring hope where there was none. The future holds opportunity for health education and Christian spiritual care for not just this village of 600, but also for surrounding villages with no health post.
What a difference a health post makes and will make.
We crested the hill in the cool mountain air. Unseasonable weather called for a toboggan in the normally warm climate. I left mine at home. Four-wheel low was a must as the roads are largely dirt and rock.
The old cinder block building sat vacant. For twenty years the structure stood as a symbol of hope, of what may come. Its roof now bearing a level of rust that will require replacement. Would the meeting on the mountain result in revival?
Today we may call it Providence. Our retrospective ruminating looks for the words to describe the turn from disappointment to excitement, from death to life. The long period of waiting will soon end. Construction crews will turn the vacant building into a Health Post. I believe it will be number three for ASOSAP.
Rosario Italia will soon have a place for its residents to receive healthcare that normally requires a long journey; a level of healthcare still below what we would encounter at our walk-in clinics. Northwest Baptist Association in Oklahoma continues to find ways to provide for a variety of needs in San Cristobal Alta Verapaz. One of its local churches will provide the resources to remodel the building to accommodate a waiting area, exam room, a pharmacy area, and a nurse’s quarters. They will also provide for the nurse’s salary for one year along with medical supplies.
Northwest Baptist Association enjoys a partnership with ASOSAP that includes a Pastor’s Seminary, we would likely refer to it as a seminar. They have provided a construction team and encouragement to the ASOSAP staff. There is hope to provide dental care to the villages that surround San Cristobal Alta Verapaz. Northwest Baptist Association is but one of the partners to help grow the vision cast by Bill and Linda Brierly.
One local pastor who attended the recent Pastor’s Seminary was stirred by what he experienced from the teaching and the reports from the village health posts. He made it known he hoped one day that his church in his village could provide for a health post. No small interest and no small feat.
The pastor sees the connection between the material well being of those with whom he lives and a clear understanding of a God who does things in the world. I suspect the way forward for Christian organizations intent to bear witness to the God who does things in the world will themselves need to do things with the very people they hope to reach with this Good News. And, it may require the sort of partnerships as the one between Northwest Baptist Association and ASOSAP.
One day there will be a cinder block building alive with hope. No longer will it sit empty in anticipation. Mothers will bring their children, spouses will bring their partners, young mothers-to-be will stop by, all to be seen and cared for in ways we take for granted here in the first world. The hope will be that the actions taken in the real world by real people in love with Jesus will bear witness to these image-of-God-bearing human beings, our world neighbors.
Mike had been to Guatemala before. He practiced in Guatemala for ten years at one point in his life. Kenan had not. These two doctors saw hundreds of people over four days at four different villages. Sharon, a nurse, joined other local nurses and personnel who would help extend care for a variety of human needs. The doctors believe they may have uncovered a case of leukemia. We are hoping the child gets the needed tests. At least two instances of malnourished children were identified and taken to the hospital. The evening John preached at one of the villages we may have had prayer with and for a young girl with Cerebral Palsy.
On the trip home the doctors were reflective. It is hard not to be. Overwhelmed by the need, minds were racing to consider the best next steps. The one thing is clear, Mike and Kenan, through their rigorous training, raised the level of care and they still felt like more could be done. You may be sure they are still thinking, praying, planning, hoping, and dreaming.
We need more of these partnerships. We need more of our missionaries to help build and create these partnerships. We need our mission sending agencies to include in their strategies those that include clean water, healthcare, and education. I mention education as the ASOSAP team is learning English. John and I have committed to learn Spanish. We hope to be better equipped when we return to teach again.
In the meantime, we were grateful for our translators. Linda was able to assist us. Dolores helped translate several of my sessions. Since our visit last year she has married and just had their first child, a little girl just two months old. Dolores served as one of our translators last year. Carlo, one of the local pastors, provided great help. He also translated for us. He taught himself English. Yes, you read that correctly. He possesses great skill and a desire to learn and help others. Carlo made us look better than we were or are.
My mind trails back to Rosario Italia and the yellow cinder block building. We will dream of the day soon when urged by the Spirit, people committed to the Way of Jesus will be the hands and feet that make those stones live, and bear witness to new life in Jesus.