Friday, April 17, 2015

Invitation to Teach

You’ll be happy to know my mud-encrusted toe nails are bright and shiny again. It’s amazing what a tepid bucket bath can do for the spirits!

I don’t remember ever going so long without a shower --when one was available, that is-- and I can only attribute it to my muddled mind and burdened heart. I forget to do things like eat and shower when I’m tied up emotionally.

To say, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately would be inaccurate. ‘A lot’ indicates more than the usual load. What word describes more than ‘a lot’?

A ton? A mountainous weight? Atlas’ burden?

No. That’s not accurate either. Because it’s the number, not the weight, of the issues that trouble me most these days.

As I sit and type, I’m reminded of one of my dad’s favorite sayings: ‘If it’s not one thing, it’s another.’

So yesterday I shared about one of the things. In the days to come, I’ll be sharing even more. I’m finding it’s remarkably helpful to write them down.

The simple task of typing them out reminds me of catching butterflies. I bounce after each thought in my head, trap it with a gossamer net, and gently pull it free. As I examen the specimen, I marvel at its intricate markings.

So delicate. So beautiful. So distracting.

I lay this butterfly aside and it stays... remarkably.

And I pick up my net for the next.

So... as every good story needs a beginning. That is where I’ll start. Here goes...

While in Maputo for my paperwork a few weeks back, I stayed in a missionary guesthouse where I met a missionary couple from Beira. They were leaving to come back North the same day as I was and I asked to hitch a ride. They kindly obliged.

This lovely couple shared their stories with me as we traveled and we told them of my plans as well. We discovered that we had similar interests.

They work with the youth near a Catholic medical school in Beira. Many of their Bible study students attend the school and over the years they have made many friends there. They offered to connect me with their friends.

When they dropped me off, I promised to stay in touch and come visit at the first opportunity. I wanted to meet with the school directors to see if they would send nursing or medical students as volunteers once the clinic opened.

About a week later, I was able to arrange the trip out there and I called them up. They generously invited me to stay the night. However the day I was to head out, I got delayed and called them to say I’d be running a few hours late.

-- “Hi, B. So sorry but I won’t make it for lunch,” I explain by phone. “I’ll see you later in the evening. I had an emergency to take care of this morning... and I’m delayed”.
-- “Oh, dear. But we arranged for you to have a meeting with school director at 2pm,” she worried aloud. 
-- “What?” I stuttered. “Um.... thanks. But had I known I would have tried harder to be there. I’m three hours away.... I don’t think I can make it in time.”
-- “Oh, dear. But they can’t meet tomorrow....”
-- “I’ll try to come now. Please see if you can push it back a bit.”
-- “Okay. See you soon.”

As I made a mad dash back home to pack and raced off down the road, I couldn’t help but be simultaneously confused, irritated, and thankful.

  • Confused.... because I had no idea about the meeting and was surprised. 
  • Irritated... because I was now late for a meeting I never knew was happening and I might not make it in time.
  • Thankful... because they had made such a sweet effort to bless me.

I was three hours away. The meeting was to start in three hours exactly. By the grace of God... I made it.

I had just enough time to park, meet up with my friends, then hurry off to the medical school. They tried to catch me up as we walked.

We arrived and I shook Dr. E’s hand with a smile.

-- “Hi”, he smiled back. ‘We are excited to have you here today... but before we go any further we need to know what kind of midwife you are... and whether or not you expect to be paid?”

I shared my experience with him a bit confused and denied any interest in payment. In my head, why would they pay me to send me interns? I shrugged it off and let him lead the conversation.

He was pleased to know that I didn’t need payment and offered to introduce me to the woman in charge of the nursing department.

I confess, the meeting was one big confusion. There were three languages being spoken simultaneously and questions that didn’t connect with my expectations.

Forty minutes later, I was sitting around my friend’s dining table sipping coffee and trying to make sense of it all. As I strung all the questions together in a play-by-play evaluation, it occurred to me that the meeting felt more like a job interview than anything else.

So I asked the obvious.
-- “Was that a job interview?”
-- “Yes, it was. What do you mean...” he asked in confusion.
-- “But I thought the meeting was so I could ask for volunteers... not be one,” I explained.

This revelation brought on more confusion, prayers, and phone calls of explanation. I called Dr. E to apologize for the miscommunication. He didn’t seem to mind at all and insisted that they could really use volunteers.

Although I no longer saw the reason for another meeting scheduled the next morning, he didn’t want to cancel it. Rather he asked me to come and hear them out about what volunteering would be like.

The next morning I went and met several doctors and directors. They told me they had teaching modules and I could be a huge help in two modules in particular and that I’d be useful as a clinical instructor for both the nursing and medical department.

If I agreed, I’d be teaching students three days a week in the morning and my afternoons could be spent working in their HIV department where I could learn the country’s protocols. This is a HUGE answer to prayer. I know I’m hopelessly uninformed on HIV protocols and treatment options (there was almost no HIV in S. Sudan), but I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to learn them... until now.

Needless to say, I told them I’d pray about it and get back to them.

That was a week ago.

Since then, I’ve talked to my director here at Maforga and he agrees it’s a God-opportunity. Moreover, God has provided a place for me to stay while in Beira and the right uniform. I’m only missing white nursing shoes.

If all goes well, I’ll tentatively start next week. However, that depends on my car working. Since my return from Beira, it has started overheating.

I’m hopefully getting it fixed today. Pray that it can be sorted quickly and that I can volunteer without any issues. I’m eager to see what God has planned for this new adventure.