January 10, 2014
New Life, New Group, Same Old Leg
It's been one of those weeks filled with excitement, with running from one stop to the next and trying to take a breath in between.
One of the areas of ministry we recognized as needing a bit of tweaking is my English teaching. I do just fine for a volunteer, but who wants just fine? Teaching has turned out to be a huge door-opener, so it's worth investing a bit of time in. With that in mind, I began continuing education classes Monday and am looking forward to sharpening my skills.
Tuesday morning, I got the call that my friend was in labor, and I had the privilege of spending that day and the next night with her. Hearing that baby boy let out his first cry and watching his big brother and sisters meet him for the first time was priceless, and I'm thankful that in times when family would normally be close by, God provides us opportunities to stand in the gap. It's happened for me many times and it was an honor to take that role for our good friends this time around. And how fun it is to hold a brand new baby and touch that super-soft skin, to be reminded of the miracle of new life!
I was also reminded of how foreign we really are. At times, I forget because we sort of fit in after five years of living here, but spending that night in the hospital brought out the cultural differences in things we take for granted. "What do you mean you don't bathe the baby and cover him in men's cologne? He has to get a full bath every day!" "You had a natural birth? Why didn't you choose a c-section like everyone else so you can avoid the pain of labor?" And I kept waiting for someone to bring a little beanie cap for the baby's head, because it's like the law that the baby's head stays covered, right? No cap. But the little man did just fine.
This is a lot like a recurring thought about Christianity that pops in my head--how many times do I think someone is WRONG, dead wrong, because it's not the way I'm used to doing it? Sure, there are things that are right and wrong, but don't get me started on all the things I've learned that are cultural, not spiritual. I have so much more to learn and wonder if I'll ever have this cross-cultural missionary thing licked.
We left the hospital Wednesday in time for me to speak at a ladies group just out of town. The pastor's wife of the small church hosted it and invited me to be the guest speaker at this first meeting. I was a little intimidated because there was no way to know who would show up--ladies from the community that need to know God or women from the church that have a relationship with Him already. I ended up telling Joseph's story, relating each of his troubles to a puzzle piece. As I held the piece up and told each part of the story, I told them that if they'd just met poor Joseph at this point in his life, you'd have thought his life was just terrible. Then as the pieces of the puzzle fit together and we watched God work his magic in the end, I told them how the same is true for us. We had a beautiful time of sharing and prayer afterward, encouraging each other and finding how much our puzzle pieces have in common. Ten women and two girls showed up, a great start for a new group coming together to study the Word.
A few hours later, I packed a bag and caught the midnight bus to Asuncion for an appointment the next morning with my doctor. I was LONG overdue for this check-up and we had a lot to discuss. He was surprised that I hadn't progressed any further in the year since the last surgery, but after x-rays and a few exams, it made sense. The way the bone over my knee was positioned after the break, it's scrubbing the underside of my kneecap. So THAT's what all that noise and pain is! My doctor, who is usually very conservative when it comes to surgery, felt positive that an arthroscopic surgery to repair that is in order. He said exactly what I'd been thinking--without fixing the joint, I can't progress any further in strengthening the muscles I need. So as soon as we can get it scheduled and find someone to house-sit, I'll go in for what I hope will be the absolute last surgery ever on this leg--you've heard that before, huh? After that, I should be able to eventually do all those things that haven't come along yet, like climbing stairs and running, and walking without the knee giving way. Of course, your prayers are appreciated as we work out the details.
Please pray, as well, for the ladies on my prison visitation team. The three of us normally go together each week, but the past two weeks strange things have been happening. Today I thought we might get back to the routine, but I found out that one is at the hospital with her young son who has pneumonia (imagine that in this heat!), and the other lady's father passed away in heart surgery yesterday.