Heartbreak and Humor

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The second-to-last day of service was surprisingly somber and yet full of personal connections that matched the depth of the day's mood. We traveled far to a remote village that was enveloped in misty clouds and yes, finally, a light rain. FYI -- rutted mountain roads are less fun than normal when moist, due to the slippery sensation beneath the bus tires. We made it up and down the mountain -- happy birthday Maestro Marco, our much-appreciated driver!

The Epiphany team has coalesced into a collaboration of friends who share good humor (loudly and often) and sympathy for the heartbreak we witness together daily. The 10-month-old baby that Shane weighed in at 8 pounds was seen by Doctora and Dr. Ed in the clinic. Each was stunned by the malnourished, skeletal frame of the tiny girl, and was able to share that sadness with each other and the rest of the team later. Nury described the follow-up care they will receive through an associated non-profit called The Mama Project. The little girl has a chance of survival, and as Sophia noted, she must be a fighter to have made it to the clinic visit today in their mountain village.

Often when patients with particular challenges leave the clinic, (especially if Kindle, Rebecca, Deborah, or Sue has anything to do with their care), they will be told that the whole Barnabas team will pray for them every day. Imagine the power of being promised that a whole group of people will be thinking of you every day, and the hope and fortification that must accompany that promise. There are such lovely, dedicated, compassionate people here that deliver on that commitment to be the hands and feet of God. It is truly inspiring to witness.

Every team member has a different role and working partner, and the importance of each of our responsibilities has been easier to recognize with each passing day. Patti started the day with a resounding affirmation of our real jobs here -- to serve people in the capacity in which we are called. Whether we are stitching wounds, diagnosing illnesses, fitting glasses, fetching meds, dispensing vitamins and pills, applying fluoride, organizing masses of patients, extracting teeth, driving large vehicles, standing guard with an extra-large weapon, or making the complex system work smoothly, we are all there to serve with compassion and love. The shy, silly antics of the children having fun by the fluoride clinic balance the distraught panic of a mother in the medical clinic who cannot feed her children every day. As in every community, there is joy and pain, which reminds us once again that the world is perhaps not so big after all.

What an opportunity to be useful. Life is immediate and vital here. There are chickens and dogs running through the medical clinic. We are out of our comfort zones and realizing first-hand how a huge majority of the world lives. It is difficult and it is good to be fully present. The people in these mountain villages inspire these American team members by connecting with us in such a familiar way -- especially the children. They welcome us into their homes and villages, ride up on their burros, wear their Sunday best, offer precious coffee and cookies, wave from the open doorways of their cinder block homes with chickens and roosters running in the yard next to the outdoor sinks and latrines, love to see their photos and videos on smartphones, walk for miles in plastic sandals, and look at us with cautious eyes and welcoming smiles. They have so little and yet all of the dignity in the world.

The fourth day has a happy ending for Team Epiphany. The voices before bedtime are cooing over photos and videos of each other's loved ones at home (usually the cute little ones, including pug puppies). The sorrows of the day have provided an opportunity for mutual solace and comfort in strengthened friendships. The funny stories of characters we have met this week have reminded us of joy. Watching their antics, singing performances, and trompo (spinning top) lessons caught on video has been way funnier than any TV show we could imagine watching. And we were part of it all today.

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