Friday, February 25, 2011

Ordinary Things

We awoke at 3:30am on Saturday morning to jazz music. Usually the radio plays NPR to awaken us at a decent hour (say 6:50am), but Saturday we almost jumped up in anticipation. (Or we dragged ourselves out of bed at 3:46am, using up every spare last minute.) We showered, packed up the car, grabbed two cups of coffee and pulled out of our driveway at 4:16am.

D and I were bound for Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Because of a connection through our church, we were introduced to a kind doctor who gives much of his time to opening free clinics in Penasco. The clinic is only open for a few hours one Saturday a month, so they need as many doctors, PAs, and nurses as possible to see the throngs of patients.

When D proposed to me, he told me that he wanted us to use our gifts together in different parts of the world. This was our first opportunity to go. We jumped at the chance. While we knew D would spend his time seeing patients, I was unsure as to what I would be doing for five hours outside of a small clinic. I figured I would try and revive my Spanish and hopefully entertain the children waiting to see the doctors.

After four hours of driving, a stop at McDonald's, and NPR
Driveway Moments (we might be addicted), we found ourselves pulling up to two small buildings in Penasco.

The Doctor who began these free clinics doesn't actually have his own building. He hops around to churches and clinics, setting up wherever he finds availability. I almost wrote that he sets up where there is the greatest need... but the truth is that the need is great everywhere in Puerto Penasco.

-+15 thousand Families living in 50-150 sq ft. shacks, burnt out cars, underneath cardboard and pallets
-No running water or power
-Limited or no access to health care services
-60% of kids don't advance to high school
-40% of the population is unemployed

D and I always thought that we might travel to Africa or India, in hopes of helping where the need for medical attention was most
profound. But if I'm honest with myself I know that I also want to travel to Africa and India for selfish reasons. I've been dreaming of Africa for years, not Mexico... and yet I still haven't made it across the ocean.

Count the use of "I" in that last paragraph. I though, I know, I want, I dream, I haven't... I (hah) will be the first to admit that dreams and desires are good things... but they aren't always the best for what's right now. There is a need four hours from my home. There are needs on my own street.

Our Pastor, Scott Brown, said in a recent sermon: God is changing the world through ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.

Not all of us will be Tom of TOMS or the filmmakers at Invisible Children, but we can all do something. I am challenged by those embracing the children in the foster system. I am moved by the families enlarging through adoption. I am reminded to do what I can with this piece of time... to GO and love my neighbor AND to STAY and love my neighbor.

A few things I will take away from our first experiences on this new street (pictured above):

-D and two other doctors saw close to 100 patients in five hours.
-One mother had walked an hour with four children in tow just so her little 4 year-old boy with the heart defect could see a real pediatrician.
-I painted the nails and brushed the hair of the little girls waiting for their mothers and siblings. They were generous with smiles and were kind to just giggle at my Spanish.
-Each family received age appropriate vitamins for every member, soap, and bags of beans and rice. Their gratitude was humbling.
-We want to return to this place, to these people.

Yesterday I picked up Cd's to refresh our Spanish and a book of Spanish medical phrases... we'll see how much they help! I am starting to strategize and research how I can contribute by teaching about dental health. The plan is to make this our second street. We are checking our calendars and making wish lists of items to locate before our return.

Keep both our streets in your prayers. We are having AZ neighbors over for dinner next week! (I'm really hoping my excitement doesn't overwhelm them. For real.)

Ordinary people doing ordinary things...


Hilary said...

I'm excited to see what you are able to do there! We'll take you in Africa too, any time you want to come!!

Valerie said...

I love this. So much.

And what an incredible paragraph, highlighting all your friends and family that are serving the Lord in various capactities. Amazing.

Sarah D said...

I have been waiting for this post all week. I am so heartened and inspired by you, dear friend. :)

my name is carey! said...

awesomeness Ciminello's!

reneamac said...

Hey friend, thanks for the link. I really loved this post. Major kudos for bringing back the neighbor to your neighborhood. I hope you were able to play it cool even though it's really exciting!