Friday, September 28, 2007

Part of a bigger picture

One of the things I've enjoyed about being around MAF is that it helps me maintain a connection with what's going on in Haiti. MAF is still very active in the area, and it's very encouraging to me to keep in touch with what's going on there by seeing the how MAF helps serve the needs in Haiti.

While I was going through orientation back in January, I trained with Justin Honaker, a young pilot who recently went to serve in Lesotho, Africa. An organization called Partners in Health asked MAF to come help with transportation in Lesotho in order to help fight the AIDS epidemic in the area. Partners in Health was founded partially by Paul Farmer, a doctor who spent the better part of his life serving at a clinic in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti. I read his biography in Mountains beyond Mountains, a fascinating and inspiring read. I was excited to see my new friend join in helping PiH reach those suffering from AIDS in Lesotho.

Last week I went over to the MAF headquarters and got to photograph the dedication of a new plane going to Haiti to help with the ministry there (article here). Again, it is awesome to remain connected to Haiti and continue seeing how God is still working there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

An exercise in not thinking from my own point of view

It's been a long while since I've gotten any news posted here, but that's because all I have is bad news. Not really, but a lot of things have been happening lately, and to keep going I've had to step outside myself and look at things from the outside. So in a way, things aren't "bad"... they're just very, very difficult. In the words of a wise man... "I can't complain. But sometimes I still do."

So the "bad news" is this: I was really hoping to train this fall, but unfortunately that isn't going to work out. I have to wait until April to do the Non-tech training at MAF. I put out an impassioned plea to get my support level up to 60%, which is required to schedule training a few months in advance. I really didn't see any way that would happen - I was at 40% and just that amount has taken months. I didn't see any way enough support would come in by August to enable me to train.

But it did. Which, quite frankly, was a miracle. I was amazed at how many people chose to begin supporting me financially those few weeks before my deadline. Right up to August 14th, the day before I needed to have the support in, people were signing up to show their support to help me be a part of this ministry. It all happened very rapidly... when I looked back I saw huge jump from the 40% to 65%, all in the course of about a month. My brain looked at that huge increase in disbelief. It was far too much. I had to break it down into pieces and figure out how that had happened.

It all added up. No one person gave a huge amount during this time. It was a whole bunch of people giving a little bit at a time. What a blessing! I sat there the morning of the 14th, nearly paralyzed with awe at the support that kept rolling in. For a few days I was too numbed to even feel completely how blessed I felt from that support. I had over 60%. I was ready to go.

But... not everything fell into place. It turned out that I was the only candidate who could schedule training in the fall. It wouldn't be practical... or even beneficial, really, to schedule a whole classroom session just for one participant, which is understandable. However, the relief I was looking forward to evaporated before my eyes, as I discovered the next classroom training available wasn't until April 2008.

Quite a disappointing blow. If you were to graph my emotions during this time, they would look like the zigzag across Charlie Brown's shirt. And really, if I think from my perspective - from what I wanted and I hoped for and what I planned on, this situation ended at rock bottom. Technically, there is some good news... for example, all of my outgoing support is in! Also, I can still start tech training as soon as I hit 95% of my regular support. Right now that's what my goal is.

When I step back, though, and look at the situation from a larger perspective, I look to myself like a whiny little kid who gets a huge batch of cool presents for his birthday, but doesn't get one little present he hoped for most. "Wipe your bleary little eyes and look around!" I tell him. Look at all you've been given and focus on that instead of complaining that you didn't get what you wanted.

When I think about it in terms of what I really needed at this time, it begins to make more sense. My prayer was that God would work things out so that I could have 60% of my support in, so I could get a break from what I've been doing all along, and muster up the motivation and renewed strength to press on. In my mind, that renewal of strength and motivation required the opportunity to train and start preparing right away. And God answered my prayer, really, just not in the way I wanted him to. Somehow (and I really am unable to explain this), I did receive the strength and motivation to complete this process. And it didn't come from getting to start training. It came from somewhere else, in some other way. I'd like to say it came from God. And in reality, I guess I'd prefer an irrational sense of peace and assurance from God than the opportunity to train, than the opportunity to escape from what I'm doing, than anything else, really. John 14:27 comes to mind, with an emphasis on the peace of Christ's assurance rather than the world's peace: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives." So the miracle I was looking for in this situation was not the miracle I got. The sooner I get over myself though, the sooner I can fully appreciate that peace and blessing.

You think that would be enough, but there's another huge miracle in the works here. And that is the encouragement and assurance I received through the participation and generous giving of others, right at my point of greatest need. Even when I felt at the end of my rope, there were others to uphold and support me. Again, if I step outside myself and look at this from the eyes of others, I see an amazing story of God's provision and the generosity of people giving. In the end, everything belongs to God, but throughout this process I am amazed to see how much people choose to share what he's given them. There's a Haitian proverb that says - "God gives but doesn't share." That part he leaves up to us. That privilege he gives to us! And when I talk about discovering how generous people are, and how much they give... I'm truly not just talking about toward this ministry I'm a part of. Throughout this process I've talked with person after person who is generously committed to supporting various extensions of God's love through the huge array of non-profit/charity organizations out there. That is a cool thing to see. And it's a blessing to be a part of.

So with all those realizations and blessings, do I still wish I was scheduled to train this fall? Yep. I really do. But if I get over my own desires and just live in the assurance and strength God has given me for this moment, maybe I'll learn something.