Friday, April 29, 2016

How does that make you feel?

I do not have a picture yet, but the clinic now has a psychologist coming two days a week, to see how that will go for her...maybe expand days/hours from there.  It is an exciting time, because we know how great the need is...but also the fear sometimes in seeking that kind of help.  Stigmas, self doubt, or just cultural stuff, but praying God will use that to bring even more healing to more lives.

This has sparked some conversations, especially to understand why I am not a psychologist since I have a degree in psychology (a few people in the clinic know that.)  I guess I should have long ago put my degree to work here professionally, since I am told that would be possible.  Little do they know how little I know.  Would it really be legal?  Hard telling, and I am not planning on finding out.
Every time I hear someone is studying psychology, I break out the very corny old joke..."How does that make you feel?"  It only gets a laugh probably one out of four times...but it tickles me nonetheless, so I count it as a 100% successful.  I like it better than the much more laugh producing line: "Only crazy people study psychology."

Of course in one way or another we are all least in the broad perspective of trying to help other people mentally and spiritually...being there for someone, and trying to improve ourselves as well.

I personally think I probably do an overall sucky job at this.  Maybe a C- D+?  It reminds me though of Oscar's devotion this morning, having faith like a mustard seed.  We follow God, we tithe, we help others, we pray...but what if I asked you..."How big is your faith?  Is it bigger than a mustard seed?"  Ouch.  You go from maybe saying...hey, I do ok, to...well, I guess I get an F.  Good thing our pass fail meter gets trumped by the Jesus card.  Did I just horrifically mix metaphors?  Give me another F I suppose.

When I reflect on my week this week...not sure the grade I would get, but it surprises me how much "psychology" is wrapped up in it.

Talking with Maria about the need for the psychologist and how we could afford care for some of the kids, I ask how many she thinks really need that kind of care.  She is not sure.  But she is sure about two stories from this week she shared...a boy in the Milk Project showing signs of abuse.  She confronts...finds out the boy has been beaten with electrical cable.  His father discovered 20Lps ($.90) missing from the house, thought he did it and beat him.  Then only offered to stop if he would admit he did it.  So he did...except he did not do it, just for the beating to stop.  And of course by admitting it was him, the beating did not stop. time dad will be even more sure it was him.  What do you tell him, how to counsel, how to help?  And another family that their was some kind of mutual or some sort of spousal abuse, and the wife and two kids from the Project had to leave and are now staying with her mother, obviously all shaken up and lost for direction, and now even worse off financially than they were before...and that was not exactly peachy keen.  Dad is likely to never be in the picture anymore...I say that because I have seen it all too often.

I went to the US embassy auction today, well, the pre-auction where you can inspect the items up for sale.  This auction is very well attended, and is quite interesting.  For those that are from the USA...your embassy buys things for staff that live here, and after they leave for another assignment it goes up for sale...beds, dressers, entertainment centers, etc.

Well...also a couple coffins.  There are several witty comments I could now make, but it does get you thinking as well.  And I thought I liked to be prepared.  That is impressive actually...just too expensive for my taste for a used container.

I have to fight psychologically here a battle of trying to get some good stuff on the cheap for the mission, versus settling for something that would not be quite what we need, and/or a gamble that cheap in the end becomes expensive.  I admit that this used to be a huge problem/issue for us years ago when the mission struggled much more than it does now financially, is always a bit of a challenge, and I find culturally I am a bit mixed and confused between two cultures.

Case in point, they have backup generators that are big enough to power entire homes, the kind that are diesel, 24KW, and start up automatically when the power goes out, but are nice and quiet.

They probably have six of these...some totally done with spent motors, and this one still had tags, looked brand new, and some in between or hardly used.  Only problem is they are Chinese and almost no information is out there on parts, history, etc. (trust me, I looked.)  The clinic really needs a true backup generator (just this week they were without power up there for not quite 20 hours)...and if I could get this here for 1/2 or 1/4 what one would cost in the US before I could ship it and pay taxes...good deal?  Or taking too big a risk?  What is the right play?   People are looking to me to say whether or not that is a good idea...and yet I am looking over my shoulder for someone else to tell me the exact same thing!  When I went to look at the US cars they bring in for use there and now had for sale...there was a small crowd of other perspective buyers gathering to hear a gringo's thoughts on parts availability, reliability, and mileage of the vehicles.  That was a bit surreal.  Vehicle auctions...oh, don't get me started on the highs and lows we have seen here with those.  This time I am feeling a peace in the Spirit not of my own to stay away, we won't be taking the plunge, good or bad, on any items this time around.  Ok, I can breath now deciding that officially just now.

Sometimes psychological stuff really sneaks up on you.  I was being perfectly antisocial in the parking lot of a movie theater, enjoying the shade, looking up Chinese generators on the internet, with my headphones in, not looking up, and not leaving my vehicle, probably looking menacing and otherwise ogre-like...when this taxi driver pulled up, and seeing me hit me with three questions I am now quite accostomed to hear but still not quite sure how to answer:  "Are you from the States?  Do you speak English?  Do you speak Spanish?" Seem straightforward don't they?  Trust me, I bungle answers to those questions...although simple, they are quite thought provoking for me.  I wonder what that means.  Anyway, despite my lame answers, he proceeded to strike up a ten minute conversation about...everything.  Learning English from the "classic station" here...Bon Jovi, The Bee Gees, and The Beatles. (Yes, those were the three bands he mentioned...I figured he has the B station instead)  His five years living in Louisiana, paying a coyote to get across the border not for fear of the border patrol and just getting deported nicely, but for the Zetas (gang/drug cartel in Mexico) and them hunting/killing people trying to go across, coming back not for being deported but to be with the mother of his children.  Talking about how Indonesian people are bad...but Chinese people are hard workers and good, but fragile, and how you have to drive very carefully in the USA, but it is such a beautiful country, and even if you do not have a driver's license, if you are good, even when you get stopped by the cops it is ok.  He did sheet rock, roofing, framing, and whatever else he could find.  Oh, and he doubted that the Thai language was a real language.  

The next time a taxi driver slows me down, pulls a u-turn out of nowhere, or just is sitting on the side of the road...I will think of this complex character, his love of learning English ("Hey, you hungry?"  "It's good man, it's good!") and talking about life, threats of death and the Beatles. His fare came back, and it was time to go.

All with someone I never met before...I could practically say I avoid these conversations and yet they happen with some frequency.  Not because I look inviting to talk to, but I must be because I am white?  I guess that is a compliment.  (I did hear someone at the auction complaining about something about gringos, I was not sure what, but I went ahead and chimed in my agreement, stinking gringos!...big laugh.  Gringos are funny too I have heard.)  Anyway he seemed to be quite eager for someone to talk to, to talk about life with, how hard it is to be away from home...and every city he had ever visited in Louisiana.  I wonder if I in any way proved to be interesting conversation at least, or at all of

I had just been stopped by the police to check my paperwork, and was taking off when I saw this gentleman running on the road leaving town.

Now this...this is a conversation I couldn't not begin, because is certainly not the first swastika I have seen here, as somewhat inexplicable as that might be...but certainly the first one someone was wearing.  I had to see what was on the front of the shirt..."perpetual slavery" it said in Spanish in a harsh, militaristic font as we slowly passed to get a good look.

I could not let it braving slowing down in my lane (by this time he had crossed the road probably thinking I was going to kidnap him for tailing him or something, but still running for exercise)...I rolled down my window and asked..."What's up with your shirt?"  He replied "It does not mean what you think it means."  I amicably replied, "Ah, ok, fine." and I took off.  I took off because I was already risking someone rear ending me, this was so weird and I was just slowly driving in the right lane leaning out the window.  And then of go into a deep conversation seemed...not the right time or place.

I know the swastika did not originate with the is Indian in origin.  Whatever it meant for him on this shirt, and whatever the perpetual slavery was (the caste system?) I told Darwin who was in the car with me...after a brief pause to think this over, that if he were in the US, he would be lucky not to get beaten up wearing a shirt like that.  And then I thought...why did I just jump to presuming he meant he was using it in some Indian way or whatever way, and that it was not what it clearly seemed to be?  That was rather generous of me.  Good grief shouldn't I have told him that was a potentially catastrophically bad idea?  "Take that off you idiot!  You just look like a exercising Nazi!"

What was this guy's point?  Sometimes we have the right things to say perhaps, but there is also a right time and place to say them.  Maybe this was representing something good and true to say somehow...but even so, a T-shirt in this fashion seems not the most appropriate way to broadcast it.  And somehow...that is what bugs me the most about his shirt.

And lastly of what I can remember, what really struck me the most...I found myself somehow giving someone marital advice.  Deep, problematic, tear jerking marital advice.  No one confides in me, how did I get here?  And what am I saying?  Wait...this is serious stuff.  This is the sort of stuff that changes lives, today and for multiple lifetimes.  I found I had plenty to say/offer, that God has more and more challenging stuff to say, and that someone more specialized should also be consulted and more deeper probing should be done.  Giving advice/guidance is fine, and good, but we have to know our limits, our own shortcomings, and know more than one source of human guidance is usually needed.

I found myself saying something that is true and yet can hurt greatly during that talk...Sometimes you have to put yourself out there, expose your feelings, your heart, and your ability to be crushed.  You have to believe that things will get better, and that God has a plan...and be open to the fact that in that moment, the other person can either come along side you, and you can grow and move forward together...or that you will be crushed, your heart stomped on in front of you and your feelings either dismissed, laughed at, or ignored...and grow and move forward anyway.  How comforting, and yet how challenging...much like what faith like a mustard seed presents.  Many examples of amazing healing and growth that we like and want to paint pictures of...and then as well Stephen, in Acts growing in faith, power and words as he was being stoned to death, with the mental painting/picture I see of that is an ugly crushing background...overcome with bright white overfilling joy.   Ultimately, I added to them, we are commanded "as long as it depends on you"...not the reaction, judgement, scorn abject dismissing or approval of others.  And then being a guy, I awkwardly said something about how that was enough of that, and started talking about cars.

How does all that make me feel?  Well...I'll have to think about it and get back to you.