Sunday, January 24, 2010

"That's Not a Prostitute"

Part of the field preparation for both my church and mission agency requires reading "Cross-Cultural Servanthood" by Duane Elmer. It's taken me a while to get into this book; not because I don't think I have anything to learn but because I know I have quite a bit to learn and I'm not always eager to see the faults in myself.
It's been a quiet night on my unit and I've been able to make some really good headway into the book. One passage really struck me because I often look with disdain on people I consider "dirty." I forget that each human being, regardless of what they become, always bear the stamp of God. I've taken the time to retype the passage because I think it's that important.
"In the mid-1990s my wife and I, both teaching at a Christian college, were feeling out of touch with the needs and realities of the world. At the invitation of John Green, a graduate student, we decided to minister to people by walking the streets of Chicago one night a week for about a year. Mark Van Houten and John Green, veterans in this ministry, oriented us to street life. Walk slowly so people can approach you. Walk near the curb; alleys can be dangerous. Walk the same route each night so you become familiar with those on the streets. Read the gang symbols so you know whose turf you are on. Cross the street rather than walk around a group of people that might threaten you. We would arrive at about 8pm and slowly walk the same route each week, finally heading home about 3am.

Walking with Mark one night, I noticed a lady at the corner ahead. She was scantily clad. I turned to him and said in a voice the lady would not hear, "Is she a prostitute?" He paused; I remember thinking, Why the pause? It's obvious. Then he firmly said, "No! That's not a prostitute. That's a prostitution." His profound statement affects me to this day.

When I saw this woman, I saw a prostitute. When Mark saw her, he saw a human being.

What do you think Jesus would have seen?

What made the difference in our perceptions? I tended to categorize people--homeless, drunk, drug addict, prostitute, pimp, panhandler--then I would know how to treat them: respectable vocation brings respect; disrespectful vocation brings disrespect. I decided who to accept not by the fact that they were living. Mark, however, saw the image of God in everyone in spite of their activity. This truth made everyone first and foremost a human being loved by God, accepted by Christ, sacredly endowed with dignity and worthy of being treated with respect and honor by every other human being. He accepted this person in prostitution just as Christ would." (pgs. 63-64)

When was the last time I categorically disrespected a person simply because of how I perceived them? Sadly, I do it on a daily basis. Here I am, supposedly called by God to become a servant to people the world often rejects...and I am just as guilty as the world...if not more so, because I know better! Amazingly enough though, God extends grace and reminds me that we are all works-in-progress, and that becoming aware of the problem is the first step to correction. Whew! There's still hope for every one of us. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

How much can I handle?

Last week I walked into a murder scene...

As a nurse, and a relatively new one at that, I often ask myself how much I can handle. Meaning, at what point will I be so grossed out, overwhelmed, stressed, terrified, or exhausted that I lose it? So far my career has been pretty plush. I work on a unit that's relatively cut and dry. All our patients have expected outcomes and they usually comply quite nicely. Sure, we have the confused, the belligerent, two-faced, or sorry-I-can't-understand-you patients, but with teamwork we get through it to tell the tale. But I've always wondered what my limit is.

So last week I walked into what looked like a murder scene. There was blood everywhere: on the floor, on the patient, on the couch, on the blinds, in the bed, and just about everywhere but the ceiling. My patient was sitting glassy-eyed on the couch. Fatima (name changed) looked so confused amidst the splatters and puddles of blood that at first I wasn't sure what had happened.

After alerting the other nurses that I needed some help, we donned our gloves and went to work cleaning things up so we could figure out what had happened. When I touched Fatima's shoulder, she jolted so violently I'm sure she had been sleep walking. But first you need a little background. Fatima had just arrived on my unit 4 hours before after major back surgery. She was in excruciating pain but very much awake, alert, and oriented. With strict instructions to stay in bed and call me for help, I medicated her for pain with some potent drugs that she could control but it hardly seemed to touch her pain. The OR nurse had warned me that she had high tolerance for pain medication so I wasn't too surprised. I finally decided to pull out our biggest guns and gave her a powerful shot. Twenty minutes later she was softly snoring to my relief. I checked on her every 15 minutes to make sure she was ok while I was monitoring her heart rate and oxygen level from the nurses' station. About 90 minutes later I heard a soft alarm go off in her room which indicated her pulse was high. That's when I walked into what looked like her murder scene.

It turns out that Fatima had climbed over the bedrails, pulled out her IV and surgical drains, and was sitting pretty as you please, though slightly confused, on the couch. So much for bedrest and no twisting or turning of her back!

Four nurses, ninety minutes, 100 disinfectant wipes, new sheets, new gown, and new IV later, the room was glisteningly clean with no evidence of her crime. wasn't more than I could the question still begs to be asked. I truly hope I never find out.

PS - I found out that this night was the calmest night of her hospital stay!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Important Meeting

Today included an important meeting with the missions committee of my home church - very exciting to begin on this journey. I've also been encouraged with three other local church expressing interest in having me come and present my dreams and ministry plans. Hopefully those plans start solidifying and I can begin making big strides towards building up the necessary support team for my big move.

Yesterday was spent completing a video for the birthing home I will be working with. To view the video, click here.

In other news, please be praying for Haiti. As you know, disaster relief is dear to my heart and the world's poorest nation is now crushed under buildings destroyed by the huge earthquake. One of my dearest friends lives just 10 miles from the epicenter where she lives and works at an orphanage for Haitian children. Preliminary reports are that everyone in the orphanage is ok, but please be praying for wisdom on how to help, stamina, financial support, and encouragement. Dana's blog is:

Thanks for your continued prayers and support. God is clearly moving me closer to the Philippines and you are a key part of that.