We're back...as Tim mentioned. And our dear friends Ate Christina and Ate An-An spent all of last Saturday preparing for our return by cleaning our apartment and making some food so our fridge was not bare! What a blessing! We were so thankful!
Just a day after arriving home, Tim and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary (August 31st)! I have had a few friends share about the "7-year itch" and how this was supposed to be the year that I get tired of Tim's idiosyncrasies and feel like calling it quits....ha ha...not even close. God has been so good and I am still very much in love with and so very proud of my Tim.
However, I have to share that I was very convicted by his last post. While he praised me for "stopping for the one", my experience flying into Davao was very much the opposite of that attitude. I didn't want to be here.
I immediately felt overwhelmed with the task before us...maybe it was jetlag, but I struggled whether to make contact with individual patients that I had promised I would keep in touch with upon returning to Davao. In fact, everything in me wanted to "stop for me" and NOT for the "other one".
Out of a "sense of duty", I started texting my patients notifying them of my arrival into Davao and asking about their families. Immediately I got a wave of responses. One in particular cemented my apathetic, weary, fearful, overwhelmed feelings...."Ma'am B, I missed you so much...you are my baby's godmother....you have pasalubong for me?" Pasalubong is basically souvenirs or presents from my homeland. She was asking me if I had brought her anything from Canada...I cringed. The irony is, I DID bring her something.
Why did that tick me off so much? I guess it was the spirit behind it. I've had countless patients, delivered 50 babies, have MANY dear Filipina friends that I work with and several peers that I would've LOVED to bring presents for from the homeland...alas, it's too costly to bring something for everyone and with weight restrictions on luggage, we barely made it here. I guess her response to my return made me feel like I was the rich, white missionary here to be used for her personal expansion of wealth. In all honesty, this aspect of life in the Phils is the reason I so desperately wanted to leave. How do I balance my wealth (mind you, all has been GIVEN to me out of the sheer grace of God) with their poverty (though their poverty is certainly not as poor as you might think).
I battled with the urge to just give away everything we received in the last two months while in the West...every gift given to Promise...every piece of clothing....every bath luxury given by Tim or by family....every tasty treat from home serving to bring some temporary materialistic peace for the coming months....each item became a burden that I felt pressured to "give away and get rid of". How messed up is THAT!? The poverty mentality was weighing me down...."there is so much to do and I have little to give"...
But then....I was reminded of the passage where Paul says, "Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee"...Then the Lord brought me to 2 Peter 3....read it if you have a chance. I was mildly encouraged that I could make it through the next 12 months here in the Phils...but not totally convinced. I asked the Lord to give me some kind of sign...a peace...something that showed me that I could love, minister to, and GIVE without fear, without giving into the expectations of others. This is how the Lord answered:
So as I mentioned before...I texted a bunch of my patients to let them know I was back in town...two of them wanted to meet ASAP. I decided that since they wanted to both come at the same time, that perhaps meeting at McDo (McDonalds) would be better than trying to chat in a crowded maternity clinic. I offered to buy them a sundae if they'd meet me there instead. They agreed.
The Bird and I ventured out to McDo with about P150 (about $3)...just enough to buy a few sundaes. :) Raani, her husband, her baby arrived just a few minutes before Ivy and her baby. They were very excited to see the Bird...likewise, I was ecstatic to see how healthy their babies were! They repeatedly said that they didn't need to eat and that they were just happy to visit. I was mildly surprised to be honest.
We had a wonderful visit sitting around sharing fries and showing off our kids. I brought them each a small gift from Canada and both Ivy and Raani were so very sweet...not at all assuming.
Hugs were exchanged and we parted ways. I hailed a tri-c-cab and noticing the color of my skin, the driver tried to charge me twice the going rate....skin tax....welcome home. But I DID receive a very sweet text message from Ivy as I arrived home..."Thanks, Ma'am B for everything."
I felt encouraged. That maybe, perhaps, God would move through me to bless others who actually FEEL blessed.
Our time in the West was so amazingly FULL of God's precious provision, the hospitality and generosity of others and wonderful fellowship with deeply loved friends and family. I cannot begin to express my thankfulness to each one of you guys that made sure our time spent there was peaceful and full of joy. We couldn't have made it there (or HERE!) without you. :) All that to say....I look around me and in this apartment I see all that God has given to me through dear friends and family. Very little in this place was purchased...I guess that is my struggle...I want to be able to communicate to my patients, though they are poor, that God DOES meet each NEED...and often our wants, too! He most often meets them without our begging...without our reliance on the wealthier people...without operating in a spirit of entitlement. This is not to say that our job as followers of Christ does not include tangible acts of kindness and filling the practical needs of the poor. BUT, some people who THINK they are poor, are simply poor because they cannot see the wealth they have.
Anyways. I am wealthy. Not in possessions or assets....my bank account in currently empty and I have a large monetary debt. However, I am wealthy because my God supplies ALL my needs and out of that supply, I will give as He sees fit. This is my prayer, anyway.
Kay. My ramble is done. I am spent. Thanks for your prayers.