Precious and Priceless
I returned from my sixth trip to Haiti last week. You would think that after six trips over a five-year period, I would be ready for the shock of reentry. But, I wasn’t. I again cried while I took my first hot shower. And, as I sat worshipping in my home church the next morning, I wept again. I was stricken by the juxtaposition of my worship experience then and my worship experience the last Sunday in Haiti. Here, I belted out Hillsong, Elevation Worship, and Chris Tomlin, with an eight piece electric ensemble, coordinated light show, and big screen video images. Last Sunday, I stumbled through Creole lyrics to vaguely familiar tunes in an open air church, with flickering electricity supporting a dilapidated old keyboard, the stench of exhaust from the motorcycles zooming by the church, and swatting mosquitoes with every appendage. Yet, the sweet spirit of Jesus was present in the worship of my brothers and sisters in Christ. There was joy. Two cultures. Two countries. One good God.
This trip, I had the privilege to serve in Haiti with both of my daughters, ages 15 and 13. I’ve taken each of them on a trip with me before but never both together. I cannot describe to you what pride I felt as I saw my daughters love others with reckless abandon. I watched as my 15-year-old cuddled babies, measured head circumferences, and skillfully took vital signs as she registered patients coming into the clinic. And, I watched as my 13-year-old read animated stories, facilitated craft projects, and allowed herself to be completely buried in a sea of kids as she taught classes in the school. It was beautiful.
In the clinic, I was honored to care for patients from one month old to 105 years old. Yes. I did say 105! I would not have believed the patient’s age had she not produced for us a government document confirming her birthday in 1914. How anyone lives to 105 with the harsh conditions of Haiti, I will never understand. With every patient interaction, whether I was treating high blood pressure, a broken hip, or a raging skin infection, I was reminded of how precious each life is. Every patient had a story. Every patient had a smile. Every patient had a blessing to share.
As with all of my trips, I prayed with every patient. In some cases, the medicine that I prescribed may help with healing. But, in all cases, the prayers that I lifted will be heard by a God who will protect and heal more than their bodies. Many times in Haiti, I felt that my prayers were much more powerful than the medications prescribed. Here at home, I also take the opportunity to pray with patients as well, when prompted by the Holy Spirit. Of course, I asked permission before praying with patients in Haiti just as I ask permission before praying with patients here in the states. Since returning home, I’ve found myself praying fervently for the people of Haiti. And, God reminded me this week that prayer matters. I found this message awaiting me in my work messages:
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to let you know I listened to a SuperSoul podcast episode with Dr. Larry Dossey called "The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things." In it Dr. Dossey talks about the healing power of prayer and the data behind it. I recalled several years ago when I was feeling very low and came to talk to you and you prayed for me and with me. It was such an amazing feeling that was that a medical professional cared enough to pray for me. Thank you for all you have done for me and I imagine many, many other patients.
Wow! If only all of my awaiting messages had been so encouraging . . .
Being in a third world country does strip you away from your American privileges but it also was “protects” you from social media. No sooner than I hit American soil, my phone blew up with a barrage of Tweets, texts, Facebook messenger notifications and 600 emails! (I wanted to turn the phone back off. But, I did not.) sitting on the tarmac, I starting mindlessly sifting through the onslaught until one particular news story took my breath away.
I watched in horror the image of the New York legislature erupting in applause with the passage of an law that makes full-term abortion legal in that state.
What just happened?
Joe and I could not stop talking about that news story the whole ride home from the airport. In fact, after my first warm shower and American burger, we sat down and watched a movie that he had chosen based on the news events of the week. I was hoping for a mindless movie night. Instead my heart was more saddened. It was the story of the Kermit Gosnell trial. If you have the stomach for it: www.gosnell movie.com. I am no legal expert, but it seems that the recently passed New York law would have made crimes for which Gosnell went to prison legal.
So, I have spent this week trying to make sense of the images I saw in Haiti with this country’s struggle with abortion. In Haiti, even a country with such poverty-stricken conditions, abortion is illegal. And, I just keep coming back to the truth that life is precious. All lives, no matter how young or how old, how rich or how poor, are priceless in the Creator’s eyes.
4 You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you. (Isaiah 43:4a)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)
Last night, I curled up on the couch with my boys. After a week without them, I just needed some snuggle time as we giggled through yet another showing of the Incredibles 2. As I looked in their faces and stroked their heads, I just cried. And I thanked God that their birth mothers made the choice to give them life. Indeed, they are priceless. God has a plan and a purpose for their lives far beyond what I can ever imagine for them.
Our pastor, Dr. David Chadwick, shared this verse in last week’s service and it has resonated with me:
They traded God’s truth or a lie, and they worshiped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. (Romans 1:25)
I pray that you are reminded that all life is priceless. Let us not be fooled with a lie to believe anything less.
And, if you need a trip to Haiti to remind you of this fact, come join me!