Friday, March 4, 2016

Storming the gates of hell with a water pistol

This post's title I first heard just a few years ago.  I remember exactly where I was sitting, doing a medical brigade in Lepaterique, with a doctor from the US.  He was discussing a particularly difficult case we were seeing, and describing what was available as treatment versus the problem facing us, that was his assessment.  It struck me as how hopeless the situation was, so I suppose the euphemism was effective, although it struck me as being a bit callous or harsh.

After it sank in a bit, I too have used the phrase on a number of occasions, not happily, not with joyous wit, but again with the seeming hopelessness of the circumstances before me.  It sarcastically sums up the situation I guess, and it shows my disdain and somewhat backhanded insult to God whom I am conveniently leaving out of the picture because He is not seen there.

So just today I faced three such situations.  The first being an ongoing situation.  Dr. Darwin has been persuading me of the need for an ambulance for the clinic and community overall.  I am convinced, and submitted a request for funding already to one organization, we shall see what happens.  During the logistical conversations about it, Darwin shared again with me the case of Christian.  Christian was one of the boys that charges money on the buses to make a living.  He was at the buses one day when gang members came to shoot the driver, and he got caught in the fire.  He suffered for quite a long time, and ended up paralyzed.  We have seen him several times in the clinic (they have to find a pickup truck or something else to bring him...thus the conversation about the ambulance) and there is nothing we can do for him long term.

Violence here is all around if you do not have the luxury of being able to ride in a car.  Consequences of that violence abound.  Also though in the clinic I have seen too much of what we also see in brigades of problems just either unsolvable by human hands, or things we cannot touch with the equipment or staff we have.  That is flummoxing, beyond frustrating, and just makes me mad.  Seeing our staff have that reaction on their face in light of that is somehow even more frustrating.   How many times have we had to will never regain your sight, your loved one has in fact died, this  cancer is terminal, and more?

The second came when one of our staff asked if we provided scholarships.  I said no, that is not part of what we do (apart from specific medical scholarships that FAME provides.)  He then shared that he is trying to help his son go to college to study law, which is what his son has a passion for and wants to do to help the country, even though here it is a dangerous profession.  His son is industrious, studious, and a great say I let alone his proud father.  He wants his children to get ahead in life, to be professionals, something he was not able to do.  However his salary does not give him that flexibility to just be able to make that happen, and school loans here are not exactly a possibility.  So His Eyes does not do such scholarships, easy peasy, sorry for you, nothing I can do.  So although we are able to give him a job, and that is great, it is not enough to help him help his son go to school, which we would love to see happen.  So...why exactly am I here, just to continually give people bad news that with everything else we do, I cannot help you in your legitimate, great possibility of a need?   We already have too much going on many people say, and yet with all that we cannot meet the needs ever present.

The third came in our devotional time today.  There is a boy near the clinic that used to be part of the Milk Project.  They had to ask him to leave because of very disruptive hyperactivity, probably as a cry for attention due to family problems.  His uncle had abused him.  This complicated situation started several years ago.  Now he is eight years old.  Via the clinic we heard that he was on his way to practice soccer and was caught on the road and raped.  He spent several days in the hospital.  Darwin was lamenting the situation in total, and that he was not in the Milk Project.

We are working to see if he can be part of the Milk Project again (as long as he can behave...we do not have the staff to be able to handle him one on one) but obviously, as great as the project is, and all that Maria does to be available to the kids, to hear their many and vast problems and dry their tears on a regular basis, this is something beyond what we can really handle.  We also know that the government is looking for him and his mother, to potentially remove him from her care.  And with the government child protective services in disarray recently (the former organization was simply dissolved) that casts another pall on the situation that was already bad before (I have talked with women that have come out of government homes that have said they would recommend leaving children in bad situations at home rather than going to that even worse situation.)

I had to sit in the devotion hearing the questions...and I had no good answers.  We can (and now have in this case) reach out to ministries that handle more those types of cases and have homes to remove such boys from such situations for advice or potential involvement, but it is not so easy even then...perhaps harder.  Dr. Darwin said this morning, in despair and sorrow for this boy whose name I am omitting on purpose, "what are we going to do for him?"  He comes to the clinic to talk with the staff because...he has no where else to go, with whom he can share or feels trust.  And as he figuratively looks to me to answer that question...I feel like I am holding the proverbial water pistol, sheepishly looking around feeling apologetic for my presence as obviously someone else would have an actual answer, or some kind of great fire extinguisher.  

That makes me mad.  It makes me cry.  It makes me think...what if that were my child?  It makes me want to yell to God "THAT'S NOT RIGHT!"  "THAT'S NOT FAIR!"  Logical me steps in and you really want what is fair?  Of course it is not right...this is a broken world...

Ugh.  I feel ugly, small, and worthless, lacking in intelligence and just simply not up to the task.  Again, on a logical level...I know that is absolutely all correct.  That the problems, solutions, and everything in between are in fact quite God sized, and that does not change no matter where you are, and that it is all precisely there to remind me that we are in fact dependent on God.

The problem is that while God in fact has already won victory over Satan in Christ, that ultimately He is the fire extinguisher, sometimes all I can see, in my pettiness, my limited perspective timing... is myself, standing with a water pistol, and the flames raging.  What selfish ego, what deluded short sightedness, what gaul.

I have no pretty bow with which to tie this post up, not that I despair to the point of no hope, I do know in me where true hope resides ultimately...this is just an honest sharing of my inner struggle, or at least three of the struggles of today.  I simply wonder if this is what Charles Schultz had in mind when he had his most famous character utter the words...good grief.  

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