We have spent the last 4 days here in Boone, NC at Samaritan's Purse HQ doing orientation for World Medical Mission. It has been a really fun time meeting other people in the post-residency program as well as some other international field staff. We have learned lots of new abbreviations and acronyms :) and have been introduced to the incredible ministry here at "SP". Seriously, this is an amazing operation. SP has several different branches of ministry including one of the best and most comprehensive disaster response programs in the world. If there is any sort of natural disaster Samaritan's Purse is there - usually first - to help. There is also Operation Christmas Child - you know the shoe boxes collected around the holidays. It may seem kind of silly but wow - these shoe boxes of gifts go all over the world and open many doors to ministry and discipleship. There are a number of other smaller ministries and projects going on all over the world and of course there is World Medical Mission which is the organization of which we are now a part. The main purpose of WMM is to send physicians short term (a few weeks to a few months) to mission hospitals all around the world to supplement or relive the staff there. In addition, the Post- Residency Program sends physicians to serve for two years directly out of training. We are SO thankful to be apart of this ministry. The people we have met this week- post residents, families and all levels of leadership at WMM and SP are just wonderful and so encouraging. I will link our blog wilth some of the post residents soon so you can stalk them and read about their journeys as well. The people and families we have met this week are going to Ecuador and three different hospitals in Kenya. There is another orientation group next month with more folks headed in different directions!
So one of the many expressions that has been added to my vocabulary this week is "on the field". Example: "If you need anything while you are on the [mission] field let us know and we will help you". What does this mean "on the field"? When I hear "field" I just automatically think of a sports field. Actually the mental picture I get is of the Clarke Central High School (my alma mater) soccer field at night with the lights on (I played a few games there while I was in high school). Anyway, I got this mental picture and starting day dreaming of us getting prepared to get "on the field" to play in this really important game . . .
Right now we are kind of on the sidelines getting warmed up - getting our equipment sorted out and fitted properly, reviewing the plays, stretching and assessing what is going on in the game. Our coach, Scott, and water girl, Mary Elizabeth (hee hee) are making sure we have what we need and doing some last minute preparation as we prepare to take the field. (Scott is the PRP director and ME is his assistant). We are asking some of the other players on the side lines about their game plans too.
But wait there are more than just the players and coaches at the game! There are lots of people that make it possible for us to play. The fans in the stands make it financially possible for us to play with their ticket sales and consession stand purchases and the game would seem odd without their applause and cheers. If we get knocked back on our heels during the game the crowd can spurn us on with shouts of encouragement or cheer when we make a goal! There are also the people we can't see that are making the game possible like the guy in charge of the lights and field maintenance. These people are like the support staff that do the invisible and often thankless jobs in missions like travel logistics, guest house hosting, hospitality, accounting or other important jobs like IT or biotechnology which are essential to the success of our mission - without them we wouldn't have a surface to play on and we couldn't see what we were doing.
So here we stand on the sidelines finally ready after a lot of practice and preparation - admittedly a little anxious but also really excited in a "butterflies in my stomach" kind of way. We are ready to get "on the field" with other missionaries who are doing this thing! We are waiting for the coach to send us in and as we take our first slow steps onto the field we are keeping our eyes on the Captain of the team who has already gone before us. We are looking to Him for direction. Not only is he the Captain of this team - He created this game and knows how to play better than anyone. So we look to Him to guide us and teach us as we play. He promises that He won't leave - He will be there guiding us every step.
OK, I know at this point my analogy is getting pretty silly and theologically weak but it was just a flash of a picture in my mind today! I don't really have any great pictures of anything this week but I'll try to snap a few tomorrow and share them with you. After our orientation wraps up tomorrow we will be headed back to the Shirleys mountain home for the weekend where we will be reunited with Claire and Ford before making a stop at Rhett's brother's home in Georgia for a few days then heading back to the 'ham. Time is FLYING by. We are anxious to get to Kenya but we also have so much going on here and so many things to look forward to before we leave. By the way, still no bites on our house so please continue to pray for us. We have lowered the price a bit and are hoping that will generate some interest soon.