Thursday, April 16, 2015

Equivalencia Update

You know it’s an off week when you look down at your mud stained feet and wonder when you took your last shower.

Yes. You read that correctly. And when I say shower... I really mean bucket bath.

In the midst of my feet-inspired reverie this morning, mini flashes of strange and various adventures this week confused my counting and I had to start again.

Finally I determinde --with much self-incriminating horror-- that it has been 7 days.

One week since I showered.

Oh the shame!

It’s at times like this that I’m thankful God hasn’t married me off. Who would share a bed with such a stinker?!

So as I stop to type this out, imagine my grimy toe nails and greasy hair and laugh with me.

I have much to share.

In fact, I have so much to share. I’m going to do it in mini segments because, honestly, who has time to read diatribes on Mozambican corruption or shady mechanics?

I will start at the beginning though. The question is... which beginning?

The Maputo Adventure (and all that came after)

In my most recent newsletter I told you how I went to Maputo to talk to the US ambassador and various heads of departments at the Ministry of Education and Health. I won’t belabor those points again but I will add what has happened since.

The consulate staff has corresponded with me and told me basically their hands are tied. They can (and have) tried to address the delays in my equivalencia process on a more systemic level, but to no avail. They are even willing to make phone calls for me if and when it seems necessary. However, the extent of their influence is limited at best.

I believe them.

Moreover shortly after my visit to Maputo, the Ministry of Education director promised to expedite things (according to my helper in Maputo) but no concrete evidence to this fact has surfaced. She promised to have results by the end of the week. It’s been 2 1/2 weeks since then.

The cogs of bureaucracy move slowly here... if they move at all.

So the long of the short of it is... I must wait and pray. So, I wait and I pray.

The locals are chomping at the bit to see the clinic open. Eyes are on me. Not a day goes by that one of the workers doesn't ask me ‘how long?’.

Can I blame them?

I’ve been encouraged by some on my team to ‘just open it’ and to ‘forget getting government approval’. I’ve been told that the ‘law of love supersedes the laws of man’ and I’m commanded to just start healing people.

How can I argue with that?

Except... except... except, the Bible tells us to abide by the laws of the land. If we don’t abide by them we disgrace God and bring shame to His name.

How do I reconcile the two?

I tell my would-be encouragers that if I practice medicine without a license I can be arrested. No one seems to believe me. No one really thinks I’ll be thrown in prison or kicked out the country for ‘doing good’. But who wants to risk it?

What kind of Christian would I be to openly defy the government on such an important issue? Why put myself in such a predicament, especially in such a litigious society, so I can have the pleasure of handing out medicines?

Yes, the law of love supersedes the laws of man. But am I qualified to pick and chose which laws to obey?

But we are not talking about being forbidden to speak about Jesus or pray in His name. I’m not being forbidden to preach... I’m being told they need to vet me before I dole out malaria meds and catch bambinos.

To me... these are quite different circumstances.

Moreover, I must explain that my equivalencia is not the only thing holding up the clinic’s opening.

The three main issues blocking my way at the moment are:
  • a new clinic roof is needed but delayed.
  • there is currently no water to the clinic and there is no way to determine how long it will be to resolve the problem.
  • the AVARA document process is stuck. This is the document which allows me to buy medicines in bulk and for discounted prices.

Other issues come into play (such as my car is broken again!). But I won’t rant about that at this time. I will, however, promise to write about them all individually and in more detail in the days to come.

But please know... I’m tired and discouraged. I feel like a failure and daily want to give up. I could be inches from my destination... or I could be a million miles away. I cannot know for sure or clearly see what is next. Pray for me.