"The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Yesterday at dinner, one of our team members challenged all of us to look for the presence of the Holy Spirit as we served the Arenales community today. Many of our team members took that challenge to heart, and we were all amazed by the ways we saw the Holy Spirit in and around each person we served today.
When we first arrived in the community we were greeted by hugs and warm welcomes, especially from the children in the community. After setting up we got the clinic moving along. We were all surprised by how much more efficiently we were able to work after working out the kinks from the first day, and we are all really proud of the way our team came together to serve over 200 patients today.
Today we served a community that had never been visited by Friends of Barnabas in the past, and we were not really sure what to expect. We found that this community, while definitely in great need, really made an effort to show up in their Sunday best to receive healthcare for themselves and their children. This showed us how much they appreciated our efforts, and that they really valued the healthcare that was being provided to them. Many of the parents took the time to search for birth certificates to bring as we requested, and many families stood in line in the hot and humid weather for hours on end to be seen in the clinic. This was a great reminder to all of us of just how important the work that we are doing really is.
As our team searched for examples of the Holy Spirit working in the community today, many of us found recipients for our cross necklaces. While each of the five team members who gave out their crosses today had an amazing story to share, I am going to share one specific story of a patient who impacted many of us today. Many of us had the opportunity today to meet a stunningly beautiful 15-year-old girl who was walking around looking very sad. She made her way through several of the stations and finally arrived at the dental station. She had been eagerly awaiting this station because she had been having many problems with her teeth and was desperate for the dental care. While waiting for the novocaine to take effect before her extraction, Dr. Arita, an amazing Honduran dentist who takes a week away from his regular practice each month to help out the medical teams, took some time to talk to the girl. He found out that she was not receiving an education because her family could not afford to send her to school. Here in Honduras, public education only goes to sixth grade, and families have to pay for private education after that point, a luxury that many cannot afford. After hearing about her situation, Dr. Arita said that he was "not expecting to hear that," and I think that echoes how many of us felt about some of the stories we heard today. However, the Holy Spirit was working even in this situation. After the extraction was completed, one of the team members, Deena, noticed the girl standing outside looking absolutely dejected. Deena walked out and began talking to her and reassuring her that she was beautiful and that Jesus loved her. Soon, Deena and the girl were both in tears, and it was obvious that they both touched the other's life in an amazing way. Deena ended up giving the girl her cross as a reminder that Jesus loved her and the Holy Spirit was working in her life even in these difficult moments.
As "heavy" as the days in the communities can be at times, our days are filled with moments of joy and laughter as well. Many of our team members were surprised by how joyful the community’s members were and how much they wanted to share with us the ways the Holy Spirit was working in their lives. As for laughter--one of our favorite moments of today was when one of our team members was goofing around with some kids, and another commented that "Ella es loca" (She is crazy). When everyone around him started laughing, he realized that this was one of the first things he had said in Spanish this week that everyone actually understood! We all had so much fun just spending time playing with the kids and goofing around with the community members. We realized very quickly that smiles and laughter were a common language even for those of us who speak no Spanish, and many of us really felt a connection to the community that we served today. As one team member commented at dinner, "There are a lot of crosses floating around that community tonight." We hope that the crosses can be a reminder to the community members, and to us, of all of the ways the Holy Spirit showed up to impact lives today.