Thank you, Holly Furtick for a memorable, moving message this weekend on overpowering discouragement. Our series based on Pastor Steven’s book Crash the Chatterbox has been amazing, inspiring, and life-changing.
In case you missed it, Holly took us to Genesis 29:35 where Leah says, “This time, I will praise the Lord.” Holly reminded us that we WILL be discouraged, and asked the question, “What will you do WHEN it happens?”
Such a powerful message. Holly was so vulnerable and thoughtful. She shared that “the hardest part of following Jesus is not understanding WHAT to do, it’s DOING what I understand.”
Holly outlined six points – Look back. Look up. Look out. Look beyond. Look around. Look in. It’s such a great message. You must go to our sermon archives or on the Elevation Network this week to hear it for yourself.
In the meantime, let’s focus a moment longer on Holly’s fourth point – Look Beyond.
She said, “Find someone you can help,” and quoted Luke 6:38 which says “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.”
We are grateful for Holly’s encouragement and leadership. Thanks to the vision of our leaders, we can serve through outreach partners in Charlotte, Matthews, Rock Hill, Gaston, Concord, Toronto, and in many other parts of the world.
If you’re wondering where to start and you attend our Matthews, University, or Concord locations, mark March 22 on your calendar. That’s LOVE Weekend for these locations. It means we’re setting up opportunities for you to serve through our outreach partners near your location.
You’ll get an introduction to these partners and hopefully find a place where you can plug in and serve regularly. Opportunities are going up online now.
Click the SERVE or LOVE Weekend icons above for more information and to locate ready-made opportunities anytime.
* 130 stoves have been sold so far
* 107 patients seen in 4-hour time period
* 2 surgical procedures administered
* 2,050 pounds of supplies brought to Nicaragua
* 30 vision tests completed
With our third day complete, I write this post out of a joyful fatigue. The day was long and wonderful. As opposed to my last post, I’ll write this chronologically so that you can get a feel for our experiences. I’ll start by describing the climate in Nicaragua (or “Nica” as we call it). Nights have been cool, as it’s technically the dry season here. Last night, crickets gently buzzed in the backdrop while exotic birds chimed in. On the topic of local wildlife, I am eternally grateful to our good Lord that I’ve haven’t encountered tarantulas and scorpions yet. I’m trying not to jinx that.
With the night turning into morning, people rustled from their beds and hammocks while delicious aromas became noticeable. Breakfast begins at 7:30 AM…and it can’t come sooner (long days = hungry Kyle). Water is limited and there’s only one bathroom anyway, so many people will wait until the end of the day to shower. The bunk rooms are split between men and women – and the mens room is right next to the kitchen. People walked there or to the porches to wake up to the sounds of roosters.
Once all gathered, we ate like kings. I’m not sure where Naomi Heidorn found her staff, but they don’t disappoint! The nourishment was needed for the day ahead. Next on the agenda was to pack up and head down to the newly erected medical facility. It is at the front of the property, right off the dirt road that can be used to enter Los Rayos.
The morning consisted of the facility’s opening ceremony – a day that Bless Back, Elevation and Diriomo (the city in which we’re staying) have been waiting for for months. The ceremony didn’t start until later, so we began with product inventory.
It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about medicine through this trip – giving me a lot of respect for the medical professionals and how much they are required to know. The key to making the facility work is integration and organization: create a place where people trust that they’ll be helped in their community and organize it in a way that’s easy to allow them to do so.
For me, that organizational process meant counting hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of multi-vitamins among other pharmaceuticals. It was part of a group effort to inventory the pharmacy, which the doctors would use to treat the patients. Finally, mid-morning came and a crowd collected. Local pastors, interpreters, volunteers, leaders (from Bless Back, and Elevation) and many others showed up to be a part.
The medical facility is one 40×40 building with three rooms and one full bathroom. One room will be used for treatment, another for pharmacy and the final for triage. For a smaller building, its craftsmanship is pretty exceptional. The front of the building has a large open porch, where more patients can be assisted before entering the building. This is where we held the dedication.
The dedication was one of multiple examples of how I’ve seen God’s brilliance here in Nicaragua through worship and praise. From a visual perspective, we set the porch up as a small stage: keyboard and sound system at one end and approximately 20-30 chairs facing it on the other. We started with a word from a Pastor, who leads a nearby church. He was one of two local men of God who shared their heart yesterday, and the theme was evident across both: “We consecrate this house to God, so thankful to be a part of what He’s doing in Diriomo through Bless Back and Elevation. This place will help many!”
As we sang songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “Our God is Greater” in Spanish and English, it would open up the lesson that God wanted to teach me. A lesson in the language of love – and how my view of it was so narrow-minded! The sun shone through the greenery, warming my face as we worshipped. This was the second time now that I’d been a part of a bi-lingual church experience. And I loved everything about it…it reminded me how God’s grace and mercy transcend cultural and lingual boundaries!
Fast forward into the awesome craziness of the afternoon: the clinic open/health fair in full swing, people from all over the local barrios had trekked to Los Rayos to be assisted. They had been given tickets well in advance to come to one (or both) of the events. The medical team held down the clinic, performing triage outside and more complicated diagnosis inside, where the pharmacy and bedroom was.
For us non-medical folk at the fair, we ran four stations for the participants to walk through to learn about health needs specific to Diriomo: dehydration, upper respiratory health, oral health and general hygiene. Once each of the participants walked through each station, they could take their ticket (which illustrated their participation) to the final area. Here, they could purchase an “eco-stove” for 30 cordoba (~$1). This product would not only help them burn cleaner fuel (reversing the respiratory problems), but also would save them money by burning fuel more efficiently!
Back to my personal experience… because I’m about as non-medically trained as they come, I ran one of the stations at the health fair. Before the fair began, those who were being treated allowed their children to play in our “mobile nursery,” a fifth element to the fair. The children could color and learn about germs at the same time. I was all about hanging out there, so I wandered over.
I know little to no Spanish…and as I played with the children, it was very difficult for me. I wanted to badly to converse and joke, as I’m pretty goofy by nature. Anytime I’d begin to speak with the children, we would simply stare at each other. A moment of awkwardness ensued.
The awkwardness didn’t last for long. Insert God’s lesson to me once more. What he taught me was that God has given us instruments that, regardless of language, or background, or age, or understanding…communicate love. Smiles. Hugs. Waves. Handshakes. These things seem so simple to us in the States and often unauthentic if used too often. But here, it’s all I had to work with.
And it was working in ways I hadn’t imagined. I actually taught a child a new game without using one word in Spanish – just hand gestures and laughs. A few hours later, I had to tell most of the children I’d just be spinning in windmills and tossing into the air (like airplanes) that I needed “cinqo minutos” before any more playing. I was tuckered out! With things winding down, I recollected on the day.
The clinicians and nurses had seen 107 patients..that meant 107 healthier people. There were 30 people that walked through vision screening, obtaining glasses to assist with their vision. From the fair, 130 stoves had been sold..meaning 130 homes would burn healthier fuel while saving more money, which they could invest back into the economy.
It’s been a little over 48 hours here in Nicaragua. And just writing about one day of it doesn’t seem to convey the appreciation I have for being a part of this.