In May 2012, I had the best cup of coffee I have ever had. It was life changing… Well, maybe the coffee wasn’t life changing, but my life did forever change.
What I’m talking about is the fact that I went on my first foreign mission trip. I was invited to join a group of orthopedic surgeons on a medical mission trip to Honduras. Now, I had gone on SEVERAL mission trips in the past with all the different youth groups we had been a part of, but they were all here in America. But I had never been on an overseas mission trip. And wow, what an eye-opener it was… more like like a soul-opener. And, Honduran coffee was indeed the best I had ever tasted 🙂
Since that first trip, I was able to go again in November of 2013. And now, this Friday, I am going back again for trip #3! I am beyond excited to go once more and share God’s love and grace with the people of Honduras.
The group I go with is called Operation New Life. It is a Christian medical, surgical, and teaching ministry partnering with Honduran surgical and dental teams.
Or course, there are doctors, nurses, and scrub techs that go on these trips to provide the medical skills needed to facilitate the exams and surgeries – but there is also a prayer team that goes to help tend to the deep spiritual needs that are sometimes more critical than the hip and knee replacements. The prayer team is often called “the Heart of the Team”. That is the team that I am honored to be a part of.
We make daily rounds visiting all of the pediatric floors, which included orthopedic, general surgery, neurological, outpatient oncology, labor and delivery, teen pregnancy center, as well as the adult orthopedic patients our doctors had actually worked on. We give out all kinds of goodies to the kids, of which the most popular is a Beanie Baby. We also have crayons and coloring sheets, Spanish Bibles, and candy. We make ‘Mom packs’ which hold personal hygiene items, and we hand them out to the moms and dads who had been at the hospital for several days and have no way to freshen up. We also have ‘Newborn packs’ that we make and give to the teen moms of which many of them have NOTHING to help them take care of their babies. But most importantly, we pray with the patients and their families. I remember one of the pediatric orthopedic surgeons there called me a ‘soul doctor’!
Hospital Escuala is located in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. It is an 1800-bed teaching hospital run by the Medical School and Honduran government. Because it’s a public hospital as well as the teaching hospital, it is overcrowded, underfunded, and extremely dirty. Now, whenever I go into one of our local hospitals here in Birmingham, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude at how blessed we have it here in the States. Whenever I hear people complain about hospital conditions, it just makes me cringe inside.
Whenever I go on these trips, I make sure to take my prayer journal so I can document all of the wonderful God-moments that take place on these trips. In preparation for my trip next week, I pulled out my journal from the November 2013 trip and read over my entry about a sweet little boy named Daniel. This story ranks up as one of my top 3 favorites. I’m copying below exactly what I wrote in my prayer journal back on 11/12/2013:
We went back to reload our supplies and headed to the cancer pediatric floor (outpatient). A room full of all age boys and one girl were coloring and playing Legos, while waiting to have their chemo treatment…
And then Daniel walked into our lives…
Daniel is 4 years old. He has only one leg and walks with a tiny walker. He had a tumor in his leg below the knee, but they discovered the roots went up into his femur, so his whole leg is gone. His hair is also gone due to chemo. He was dressed so cute with a newsboy grandpa hat on. He kept talking to Jose (our interpreter). He winked at us and smiled and flirted. Then I started to ask Jose if we could pray for him. But instead, Daniel asked Jose if he could pray for us! So I knelt down by him with Jose, and this fella lifted both hands, shaking them Pentecostal style, saying the Lord’s Prayer. It was unbelievable. He is super special. I pray he grows up knowing the calling You have placed on his life. Help him become healthy so he can have a long life to live and bless others. His personality was so infectious, plus his sweet spirit just made him an absolute encouragement and inspiration to me. My cup overflows…
Indeed, my cup was overflowing. But it truly makes no sense. Logically, the more you give, the less you have. If you continue to give, you will eventually run out.
By this point of the the trip, I should have been completely exhausted of all resources I had left to offer. We had already been in Honduras for 5 days, 3 of which we had worked all day in the hospital. I was emotionally drained from all of these stories of sick babies and helpless parents. I was spiritually drained from praying and interceding for family after family after family. And lastly, I was physically drained from walking all over that huge hospital and going up and down about a thousand stairs a day.
But when God’s divine mathematics become part of the mix, you never run out. You give, and somehow you end up with more than you started with to begin with! That’s what is so amazing about giving. The more you give, the more God gives to you. It is spelled out so clearly in Luke 6:38 –
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
God used sweet little “preacher boy” Daniel to pour into me. His sweet spirit, courage, love for God, and childlike faith was just what I needed to continue to give to others at the hospital who were in desperate need. And it wasn’t just enough to get me through the week. It was more than enough. It was a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over!
If you find yourself feeling empty, maybe it’s time to start giving. Somebody is in desperate need of something you alone can give. It doesn’t have to be something as extravagant as a foreign mission trip. Maybe it’s just teaching a children’s Sunday school class or serving in a local homeless shelter one weekend a month. All these acts of giving yield the same result: a cup that overflows.