It's 3am and we are barreling through the rainforest in a large school bus. We left quietly, in the middle of the night, to head to the airport for our trek home. Silently and sleepily, we all found our seats and curled up trying to find comfortable napping positions. For the next few hours we will quietly travel the back roads of Nicaragua and for those precious moments, the magic will remain. Our team is intact before we splinter off to our homes. The air is still hot and dense, with occasional flashes of lightning catching my eye. By tonight we will be back in the States, in the comforts of our own bed (praise Jesus) and we will begin to assimilate back to our regular routine. But for the moment, we are still here.
While I'm exhausted and physically uncomfortable, I'm thankful. This trip was scary for me. Eighteen months ago I traveled to Africa with the same organization. It was wonderful but draining. For days I was in a third world country, on a team with strangers, surrounded by sick people. Even back then, when I felt stronger and more courageous, the trip was hard. After battling with anxiety in recent months, going again seemed impossible. When my man mentioned he signed up for the Nicaragua trip, I knew I didn't want to stay alone. The fear of being in our home for 10 nights solo motivated me more than anything else. So I signed up. Then decided to cancel. Then sucked it up and was dreading the trip. We got to Sebaco and began our work, serving 961 patients in five days. Each day, I got up, lead a team of non-medical volunteers, and shook every single patient's hand as I registered them to see our doctors. Our physicians cured and cared for each person with dignity and joy.
I'm not sure what happened here, whether it was the act of serving, a few well-placed words from teammates, or seeing an old tenacity in myself, but something about being here produced a little more hope.
Hope has been hard to come by over the past year. My mind has often robbed me of it. But here, on the very last day, I felt it. A small bubble starting to form and rise. As it slowly bloomed, I had this thought- our God is about our healing. Not just the physical healing of others through us, which happened on this trip, but our healing, our wholeness. The spots in us that are broken and damaged, he wants to make those new. What a glorious thought. I'm not sure if I had ever thought about that before or, truly, if I had ever needed to think about it before. But here in the jungle in the midst of my own battles, I need to believe this so deeply that it penetrates my very soul. Because this is what I realized- IN OUR HEALING THERE IS HOPE.
The hope that sprung up in my soul like a tiny plant emerging from the ground after a long winter? It came from some healing. As God placed bandaids and ointment on my wounds, it produced a bit of possibility, of faith.
I saw this in our patients. As they came to our clinics, as I checked them in, they were hurting yet expectant. There was a look of anticipation as they waited to be healed. When they left there was a renewed sense of hope in their eyes. They had been helped, counseled, and been given the assurance of a clinic which could assist at any time.
The thing is, healing takes some work. It was as I served that God healed a bit of the broken that has built up in my heart. I had to go, be obedient, and show up even when it was hard. The people of Nicaragua had to make time and get transportation to come to our clinics. They had to wait, actively answer questions, and comply with the doctor's orders. It is an active process, a decision to pursue health. At times, healing may be uncomfortable and even downright painful. We've all experienced rough days of the flu,, moments post-surgery, or the sting of a scraped knee. To get well often requires a bit of uncomfortable steps. Who actually likes going to the doctor, taking medicine, or drinking fluids? No one. BUT if our God is one of hope (and healing leads to hope) then why wouldn't we do the work?
The work may be physical or it may be intangible. For me, healing has started with vulnerability and taking action to quit simply surviving and instead pursue abundant life. In order to do the work, we have got to identify what is hurting and if we want it to get better. If so, let's take the steps. Go to a doctor, a counselor, a parent, a friend. Confess what is broken and get some wise counsel on how to move forward, how to mend. God is about our healing, our restoration, and we get to join in the process.
We could all use a bit more hope in our life and healing and hope go hand in hand. So let's get to healing- ourselves and others. Amen?