Far from what I once was, but not yet what I'm going to be

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Project Cure

Is this real life?

As many of you may know, I applied for an internship this summer to work in a hospital. I heard the news not too long ago that I received the position. This is LITERALLY a dream come true.

Tears of joy.

This internship, however, is different than what you might be thinking. I will be interning at a pediatric neurosurgery hospital in Uganda. That's Africa - for those of you who are geographically challenged ;)

The organization I am partnering with is called CURE International. CURE operates hospitals and programs in 27 countries and is the world leader in hydrocephalus treatment (I will be seeing a lot of this since I am interning at the neurosurgery hospital).

CURE's mission is to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. Patients do not get discharged without hearing the gospel. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

Not only are the physical needs of the patients cared for, their spiritual and emotional needs are cared for as well.

"CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda (CURE Uganda) is a specialty teaching hospital that treats the neurosurgical needs of children, with an emphasis on hydrocephalus, neural tube defects, spina bifida, epilepsy and brain tumors. Located in Mbale, Uganda, it is Africa's leading hospital for the treatment of these conditions.

Since it opened in 2000, more than 8,900 surgeries have been performed at the CURE Uganda hospital. This life-saving care is available nowhere else in Uganda and is available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

Children suffering from physical disabilities like hydrocephalus in Uganda have little hope for a productive future. If they don't die, they will endure a lifetime of physical and mental problems as well as social isolation. Their families also often encounter similar rejection from their relatives and friends.

CURE Uganda is recognized as a global leader in the treatment of hydrocephalus. It developed and implemented a groundbreaking minimally invasive surgical procedure (endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization - ETV/CPC) that serves as a superior alternative to the more traditional method of inserting a shunt inside the head.

The hospital's prestigious CURE Hydrocephalus Surgeon Training Program attracts surgeons from all over the world, including countries like Bangladesh, the U.S., and Ghana. These surgeons spend three months at the hospital to learn the advanced surgery performed there and are then equipped to perform this surgery in their home country."
Meet Tom.
Hydrocephalus patient before treatment at CURE Uganda
Patient after treatment for hydrocephalus at CURE Uganda

"CURE Uganda has a holistic approach to its patient care, with an equal emphasis on physical and spiritual healing. The hospital has a highly trained team of counselors who are available to talk and pray with patients and their families.

To extend its reach beyond its central location, the hospital regularly sends out mobile clinics to remote areas of Uganda for follow-up care and to identify additional children for treatment."

I will do a 9 day medical outreach while I am in Uganda where I will go out into the remote areas of Uganda and into the surrounding villages around the hospital and insert IVs and do other awesome things I learn as an intern.

I am so blessed by this opportunity. The Lord laid medical missions in Africa on my heart long ago and He is faithful. I waited (not always patiently) and now the time has come.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and
rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for
yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

"I am the LORD that heals you." (Exodus 15:26)


Sunday, June 30, 2013


Coming home is never easy. It's never fun either.

But they say home is where the heart is. . . Well my heart is in a Guatemalan village 10,000 feet in the mountains. Does that make Guatemala home? Maybe I'm just a nomad. Lost and confused.

I returned from a 10 day trip to Guatemala. This was my second time and it was great. The first trip was life changing - the greatest trip of my life. This trip didn't disappoint. Still changed me. Still great! :)

There is something so special about your first time in a new place. The first time you meet the people there, taste the food, see the sights, get bit by the bugs. . .

HOWEVER, nothing can compare to returning to the same village and seeing the same children and people that I met last year. The second I stepped out of the van, my 9 year old friend, Ruth, RAN up to me and embraced me with all she had. You just can't describe those moments. It's moments like those that made this trip. Reconnecting with old friends. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the people you met a year earlier.  All that was going through my mind was "they remember."
My Ruth is the one in the light green jacket giggling to herself ;)
Oftentimes I come across people who question the impact of short term missions. Trust me, I get it. It used to be hard for me to hear these people out because I have such a heart for missions and have been on 5 trips myself. But I really do understand their concern. But it's the little moments like THAT - Ruth running up and embracing me with the biggest smile I've ever seen. Laughter in the air; music to my ears. They remember! We bring joy and encouragement to these people. We build relationships and love them like Jesus loves them.

We had a sermon in church today on James 1:27. "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."  That's what we're doing in this village. THAT is what short term missions is all about.

If you read my posts from last year's trip or talked to me at all, you may remember that last year we laid the block for the church in the village. We built the first story. Finished all the block work. I was so excited to see how much further they had gotten in a year's time. I was saddened to see there was little to no progress on the church since our last day in the village last year. This also solidifies my belief that we are making an impact. WE are building this church in Guatemala. Literally building the church.
Working hard on the re-bar
This year we did all of the re-bar work for them to lay the ceiling of the first story/floor of the second story and begin to build up. Re-bar work is very tedious and time consuming. It was so awesome to see how excited and overjoyed all of the people in the village were just to have us there. Our presence lit up their faces. Their smiles are so bright and bring tears to my eyes. I've never seen such beautiful smiles.

I know that we made a difference being there. We made a difference in the village physically by building the church building. We made a difference in the church spiritually by helping build the church body and bringing believers to their community. We made a difference personally by continuing relationships that were made and built last year. Not only is this village being impacted, but so am I. I can't help but be impacted by their joy, excitement, and unconditional love for everyone around them. They have nothing but are more than content. They are so generous. I definitely learn from them each time I interact - language barriers don't stop love and joy. Some things are universal.
Their smiles are more beautiful than anything I've seen.
Their laughter is music to my ears.


Friday, April 19, 2013

May Angels Lead You In . . .

As some of you may know, right now myself and a lot of people close to me are mourning the loss of a woman so dear to my heart. Connie Williams. I shared a facebook status about her passing yesterday and it was a very difficult day. I woke up to the news of her death. What a wake up call - literally a wake up call.

Bear with me as this is LITERALLY the hardest thing I've ever written.

Mrs. Williams was a teacher at Phoenix Christian at the time of her passing. She was at camp with her 5th grade students when she suffered a heart attack and died minutes later - away from her 3 sons and husband.

Let me tell you about my morning yesterday. I woke up to my phone ringing. It was my mom. I answered. The voice on the other end of the line was shaking and clearly holding back tears. Her words were "Mrs. Williams just had a heart attack. I don't know how she's doing, but please pray! She's at camp in Prescott with her 5th graders right now." *Hang up.* 

"God," I said, "You're in control. I know she'll be okay. Please. Please."

11 minutes later my phone rang again but I didn't hear it. I missed the most important call of my life thus far. How could I do that at such a crucial time? What was SO important? UGH. When I did get to my phone I saw a text. Two words. Never in my life did I think that two words could break my heart, my spirit, my day all at once. But those two words did. "She died," those two words said.

But I couldn't believe it. No tears came. This wasn't real life. It couldn't be. She was too young, too full of life and joy and love and Jesus! She had 3 kids and a husband! She was a teacher of 5th grade students at Phoenix Christian. A HUGE part of my child and adolescent life. Played a major role in my church. So loved by many. How could this be? No - she's not gone. This isn't real. It can't be. I won't believe it.

All day this was my thought process. It wasn't until last night that it hit me. Hard. The tears came. The memories came. The questions came. The heartbreak and the bitter pain came.

Mrs. Williams was a beacon of light around Phoenix Christian and around Bethany Bible Church. I never had her as a teacher, and she STILL had that much of an impact on me. I just wrote a toast for a wedding in October and I mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Williams in it! She and her husband have been a support in every mission trip effort I've been a part of. They have always cheered me on in all my sports. She always encouraged me in my academics when I was feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. She always inspired me to keep going when I felt like giving up. Her laugh and her smile were so infectious. She was a lover. She was an incredible wife and mother - such a family woman. The kind of woman I want to be when I have a family someday.

Her heart was so big and full. There really are no words to describe this incredible woman of God. And though those of us left here on earth have sadness and pain and holes in our hearts because an angel has been taken from us to sit at the side of God, we know she is no longer in pain. We know she is happier than ever and there are no more tears for her. We know there is a reason for everything and that God has a plan. We know that God can turn anything into good and we know that even the ugliest situations can be made beautiful in Him.

Mr. Williams says that she is dancing with Jesus right now . . . And I believe it :)

Jason Mraz says, "Music is our best medicine in a time of healing, as it is also our greatest weapon in the war against unhappiness.."

So I leave you with lyrics from some different songs, because my own words are not enough.
This is for you Mrs. Williams. We love you. You will never be forgotten.

"There's no one in town I know
You gave us some place to go.
I never said thank you for that.
I thought I might get one more chance.
What would you think of me now,
so lucky, so strong, so proud?
I never said thank you for that,
now I'll never have a chance.
May angels lead you in.
And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
On sleepless roads the sleepless go.
May angels lead you in."
Jimmy Eat World - Hear You Me

"When all is said and done
And I'm looking back upon this race I've run
And when my heart gives in
I know you'll be beside me precious friend
It's just the same from the beginning to the end
When all is said and done
And if I lose my way
And I wander down this open road for days
And if the sun should fall
And the dancing we once did becomes a crawl
Let the memories move like shadows on the wall
If I lose my way
When I'm coming home
And I walk across the bridge of death alone
I will fix my eyes on the one who's waiting at the other side
It's my old friend with countless others there beside
When I'm coming home
When all is said and done
And I'm looking back upon this race I've run
And when my heart gives in
I know you'll be beside me precious friend
It's just the same from the beginning to the end
When all is said and done"
Tyrone Wells - When All Is Said And Done

"Beyond the door there's peace I'm sure
And I know there'll be no more tears in heaven"
Eric Clapton - If I Saw You In Heaven


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mission Minded 2013

Dearest friends and family,

As you may know, I spent some time last summer doing mission work in Guatemala.  I was blessed by the Lord in ways that transformed my life and made me mission-minded.  This trip truly changed my life.  I saw for the first time what love really means.  I experienced medical missions for the first time – a dream come true for me!  I fell in love with a country and its people: GUATEMALA.

This summer I will return.  Guatemala is number four in the world for starvation and malnutrition.  I will be working alongside Doctor Gomez in a medical clinic, as well as loving the community and helping out with water purification projects.  My team and I will be digging wells and educating the public on how to minimize infection and the little things to do in order to remain healthy.

Being a part of a medical mission has always been a dream of mine; something the Lord laid on my heart years ago.  More recently, this dream has exploded inside of me.  I am so excited to see what the Lord does in and through me during this trip.  I cannot wait to learn even more from Dr. Gomez this time around and be the Lord’s healing hands in Guatemala!

I am going with a team of 8 people from Bethany Bible Church and we leave Thursday, June 13 and return Saturday, June 22.  We need your help in this mission!  We can’t do it without you.  I ask that you would pray for my team as we prepare for this trip and prepare our hearts and minds for the work we will be doing in Guatemala.  Each team member is to raise $2,075.  If you can’t give financially, please pray; prayer is so, so powerful.  But if you can give financially, know that your money is going to a great cause and that we are ever so thankful for your gift.