February was a busy but amazing month for us in the States, we celebrated Devyn’s brother’s wedding in New Orleans, got to visit my side of the family in California for a week, and then returned to Texas for the M3 conference (M3 stands for mobilizing medical missions conference) before heading back to Peru.
Here’s the thing, Devyn and I were a couple of the speakers at M3, and here I thought that it was great that we were going to get to speak and share with others. I basically thought I had come to M3 for a one-way street, a deposit of hope and love into those in the audience, and that’s all, but the kicker is I wasn’t expecting to leave different. I left changed.
M3 was a power house, full of amazing God-stories that happened when people said yes to use what was in their hands to do what they felt God asking them to do. And I want to be one of those people that says yes, I think I am being here in Peru. I just want so badly to be part of God’s story of His love for humanity. And I believe He IS using me, but my eyes were opened at M3.
One of the speaker’s, Dr Anne Alaniz from Malawi shared how God opened a door for her to come to the US to become a gynecologist-oncologist (AKA female cancer doctor). She co-founded Safe Haven in Malawi, a school/clinic that serves those in need. Her story is incredible already. What hit me was how she shared that in Malawi, she had experienced hunger every single day, constant hunger. She shared how humanitarian aid trucks with bags of corn would pull into her village and how people would line up to get food from the truck. How the food would eventually run out and how she remembers mothers with babies strapped to their back running up to the truck and lifting up their arms just begging for any corn that was left. This is real. Then she shared of another girl she knew that had come to the local clinic where her father worked at during a bout of diarrhea, yet because they had no IVs and the girl could no longer swallow, she died of dehydration. Dying of diarrhea. This is happening even now. She recounted how women were giving birth over trash bags on the floor in the hallway. Scarcity everywhere. Eventually she would help establish Safe Haven in Malawi, a clinic and school that brings tangible hope to areas of poverty. Sustainable help.
At the conference, I also heard the song Albertine (Brooke Fraser, 2009) where the singer tells of how for a moment she held in her arms a Rwandan orphan named Albertine, and how she could not let go, and how she felt in her heart that she had to do something, she felt responsible. She would go back a share Albertine’s story through the platform of music.
After M3, I left changed, I felt different. I felt I had to do something more than just give medical care to those in need. The need was suddenly bigger and more urgent, hitting me like a solid punch to the face. I had a vision in my head of all of the patients outside the hospital where I serve in Peru. I had a vision of how they all had broken empty hearts and how I had just been giving them ibuprofen for the pain. How just like that truck in Malawi, I could dish out medicine until it all ran out, or I could give people never-ending hope and life that would forever change them.
My own words, that I had spoken from stage reverberate in my heart: “Isn’t that what we are here for? To truly love? Yes, the world needs medical care, clean water, etc. But the world HUNGERS and YEARNS for LOVE.” God’s perfect unblemished, unfailing love to be exact.
I think I finally understood with my heart what I had meant.
I will be posting what I shared at M3 on our blog soon, hopefully with the video alongside, but there was an urgency to share what I felt as I left the conference: a bit more broken, a bit more aware of what really matters here. Eyes more open to the truth. Ears a bit more able to hear the sound of people’s true need.
What practical implications does this have in my life?
I can’t wait to work on meeting people where they are at, praying for those who are open to it, those who are thirsty, talking with those who need to talk, sharing hope and life with them, never-ending life. Living water. God open my eyes to see the unspoken need. The need for living water, that we may thirst no more.
Yes, medical care, but eternal hope and unfailing love most importantly.