Saturday, 9 December 2017

more than meets the eye

It was a hot and sticky afternoon following some meetings at 4 of the major Hospitals in the capital city of Yaoundé when we retreated to an air conditioned Boulangerie for lunch and free Wifi. It’s a paradox I have become used to and one that lures and yet always feels so odd. One minute discussing how we can come alongside and address the situation of making surgery safer in Hospitals and the next sinking into the comfort of indulgence and extravagance. We walk through Hospitals which are very often in complete disrepair, in need of not just a good coat of paint but for so much more. We know that the vast majority of our world (2/3rds) simply can’t access surgical care and there we are ordering our £4 orange juice and £6 crepe.

I breathe with ease and enjoy the cool air that brings refreshment to my clammy exterior and try not to ponder too closely what that money could have bought… a life? a safe arrival of a little one? The comfort of the A/C exposes my own discomfort and it’s then that I notice the flip flopped hands.

The view itself shows the kind of neighbourhood our Boulangerie was in; fancy cars carrying more of the privileged to join me in filling their bellies with all sorts of wondrous delicacies… but it’s not all that meets the eye. There’s a guy down there, sitting on what looks like a skateboard, wizened legs folded beneath and flip flopped hands moving him along…. do you see him?

My life feels full of so many extremes – often of temeperature... but of need, of pain, of joy…

Ouessini who has spent the last few weeks having his feet straightened. Isn’t it wonderful?

Sidonie, a nurse anaesthetist, spent 2 weeks mentoring on board with us and has just completed a week on one of our anaesthesia courses – “I leave with an extraordinary experience and a feeling of harmony between anesthetists and the surgical team. All the care given to patients by doctors, most especially post operative pain management, has changed my perspective on patient care. Here, the patient is the priority.”

And Dr Jacques, a max fac surgeon who has spent a few weeks with us - “The reminder of God's presence before, during and after the activities through prayer changed my perspective on patient care. The group spirit that suddenly invades the Mercy Ships crew. Everybody tries to give the best he can give.”

Kennedy, one of our local Day Crew who translates and helps us deliver many of our training programs always responds, ‘I just can’t even explain…’ whenever I ask him how his day was. 

Valerie shared, “At first, I wasn’t sure it was me...” when she saw herself in the mirror for the first time since surgery. Her facial tumor, which has been continually growing for the past 25 years, weighed almost eight pounds when removed.

Paul, once frail and dangerously underweight, is barely recognizable now as a bouncing, chubby-cheeked baby. Thanks to the caring hands of the infant feeding program dietitians, he now weighs a whopping 6 kilograms and is on his way to being healthy enough to receive cleft lip surgery.

There’s so much more than meets the eye. And in this season when we are reminded of our waiting for Hope, for a Saviour - it’s a good reminder. I read that the Hebrew word for ‘wait’ is ‘Qavah’ and it also means to entwine or to wrap tightly. What a beautiful twist to contrast the often negative connotations that waiting brings! Waiting is more than empty hope, but a time when we actually become stronger. To entwine our purposes with His, to be wrapped tightly, to know Him better. It’s so much more than meets the eye.

To the man with flip flopped hands and folded legs, it feels empty to hope for you, but I do…  I know there’s more…

To the kid whose feet are now straight. The hopes, the dreams, the imprisoned feet now set free, the pride your parents must feel, the joy, the testimony of hope you can bring. Go and show the world that there’s more than meets the eye!

To baby Paul who will soon get his new lip. You have shown us how to get strong in the waiting. May your life display His glory. 

Behind the twinkly Christmas lights and extravagance of Christmas celebrations – there’s so much more than meets the eye. Let’s celebrate our Mighty God! Everlasting Father! Prince of Peace!

May you be wrapped, entwined and in all your waiting, may you know hope and joy.

Happy Christmas!

From ‘Seasons’ by Hillsong

I can see the promise
I can see the future
You're the God of seasons
I'm just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it's worth my patience
Then if You're not done working
God I'm not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You're the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child