Monday, August 29, 2011


I am blessed by a very special friend named Lynn Byers who is in Haiti on a short-term medical assignment that ends September 7.  Lynn wrote a post this week whose honesty touched my heart as she talked about calling, expectations, and perspectives on culture and poverty.  Lynn writes ...

by Lynn Byers

It's funny how we term missionary work as going overseas, but really it is the call of all Christians as we don't belong to this world so technically we are strangers everywhere. Therefore, every Chrisitan is called to be a missionary. Some stay in their home country, others are called oveseas for a short time, and others for a lifetime. For me, I'm not sure yet if I'm meant to be overseas for a lifetime. This year here has been a huge learning experience for me serving in Haiti for almost a year so far. It will be a year on September 7!

I volunteered 3 places, but most of the time has been spent at Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti as the orthopedic nurse coordinator (as my job formed itself that title). I have seen and done so many things as a nurse that in America I would never get to without 3 plus months training in some departments (like helping with 3 terrible head trauma patients...literally transporting the one guy in the back of his family's car with a trunk that didn't shut; having the security guard ask to me to assess a premature baby born 2 months early because there was no Peds doctor available; having to learn to work in recovery room & train other nurses when I've never worked in recovery room myself, etc etc). Trying to make things work as a nurse when I don't have all (actually many of) the resources I need. I have had to tackle less than desirable living conditions (like not so good hospital food- kind of just kidding) and work conditions, but still nothing compared to what a lot of people endure. I have learned a 2nd language in order to communicate. I have endured some interesting car rides. I have met wonderful people, especially my children patients and actually made lots of connections to Americans. I have gotten to tour the beautiful island and enjoy the wonderful fruits it has to offer. I got to meet (and will get to meet again) the compassion girl I've been sponsporing for 4 years and nothing could beat speaking to her in her own language. I've also been soaking up wonderful aspects of their cultures- their endurance and making things work when it doesn't really appear there is anything you can do; just singing to praise God sporadically; the smiles & happiness on kids who live on dirt floors; joining a young adult Haitian choir; the joy Haitians give in giving you a gift (if you do something for them, they will repay you somehow); The greeting of a kiss on the cheek (going to have to remember not to do that in the U.S.); And living in a community of other Christians long term volunteers (like a college dorm again!)

I always saw myself as fitting in better with non-American cultures, but after being here awhile I realize the aspects of this culture that are equally frustrating to what I deal with in the states. I'm in a spot that I love Haiti and the people, but their work ethic and other little things can be difficult to understand coming from an American perspective. In general, they move very slow and work becomes more like a social hour. They often neglect basic care and provide unsafe care at times. And work items get stolen or misplaced (if not carefully watched or monitored, usually by foreigners). Basically there appears to not be much accountability nor ownership of their jobs. I'm not sure the causes or reasons. Some of it is probably lack of education and unorganization (in general, life is unorganized here but somehow functions). And many times the foreigners are called to do many things, and you start to wonder what they do when we are not here. I never saw myself as saying Americans are better than other countries, and I still don't think we are but without a little support from outside help, a lot of hospitals don't function as well. Every country has its own problems, but every country also has its own beauty!

Read more at BYERS

As I prepare this post I am on vacation and have taken steps not to work during this vocation.  It isn't easy, but it is necessary.  From the blog FORWARD PROGRESS comes some excellent material for reflection:

One Helpful Way to Fight the Idolatry of Work

by Michael Kelley

If you have a job, then there’s a good chance you have at one time, are currently, or eventually will construct an idol out of your work. You want to do well, achieve, and be recognized for your work. Nothing wrong with that – God is honored in our hard work and excellence. But the idol slowly starts to take shape when you begin to find your fulfillment in your work alone. You self-worth in the praise of your boss. You validation in the number of appointments on your calendar.

Work can be an idol – just like anything else. And just like anything else, the idol needs to come down. But how does that deconstruction happen? If your idol is pornography, then you need to seriously think about getting rid of your computer. But you can’t get rid of your work. Your family needs you to work. You need to work. It makes the deconstruction of this idol very, very tricky, but here is one practical way to start ripping it down:

Get a personal cell phone.

And make that phone the simplest, cheapest, least cool model you can so that you can barely send a text message on it. This practical step combats one of the ways that more and more of us are becoming worshipers of work – through our devices.

At a men’s retreat this past weekend, a guy in my small group shared his own struggles with this. He had his life on his Blackberry. It was his calendar, his email, and his personal cell phone. Because it was his personal phone, he kept it with him even when he got home. But then the little red light would start blinking at the top.
What’s this? An email? Yes! Somebody needs me! Somebody thinks I’m important! I am validated because I am so integral that I am contacted at any hour!

And when that alluring red light goes on, it’s so easy to just click over and see what’s going on. Even if you’re talking with your wife. Or listening to your kids. So every easy…

So this guy made the tough choice. Even though he had a stipend for his Blackberry, he took on the additional expense of getting a personal cell phone. A not cool one. One that doesn’t play Angry Birds or send emails. Now, when he gets home, the Blackberry goes in the drawer. The Zach Morris phone goes in the pocket.

Work stays at work. Home is central at home. Idol demolished.  Read more from this blog

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