This morning at 4:40am ET a man by the name of Kory picked me up at my house to drive me to Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. Kory is a person whose WPM (words per minute) and whose car’s RPM (revolutions per minute) are the same. He talked about how “people are just going everywhere all the time,” and “everyone’s just going this way and that way, doing who knows what.” He talked with an enthusiasm that was lost on me, and my sleep deprived body. He talked about customer service and just raved about his experiences driving people around the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia metropolitan area). By 5am my ride had come to an end, and I parted peacefully with my ebullient interlocutor as I headed towards gate 14. My flight took off, I nodded off, and by the time I rose from my nap the nose of my plane was pointed down towards the runways of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, TX – just 25 miles away from where funeral services for Mrs. Barbara Bush would be taking place at noon.
Light-green shirts, bright smiles and the scrunched eyes of happy camaraderie meet me as I walked up to Gate E23. Warm hugs and meaningful handshakes reattach me in a physical way that also reconnects my spirit to something outside itself. This is just my second year coming to Guatemala with the Huebner Surgery team and after all the great experiences last year, I can’t wait to again document what takes place at Las Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro (the hospital where our surgery teams will be operating all week). The many Faith In Practice veterans are joined this year by first-timers who are eager to jump right in and see what all the fuss is about.
Together now, we board the plane and fly south. As I sit on yet another plane headed again to Antigua, I think about my early morning driver, Kory, and maybe understand him a little better. Kory is right: we are a people on the go. But where are we going and why? That’s one of those philosophical sounding questions that someone asks rhetorically to sound smart or seem they are being deep – something I have been known to be guilty of doing – but in this case I want to think about the non-rhetorical answer to these questions.
I’ve already answered the “where” part of the question, but the “why” part is much more important. There are a lot of “why” questions I could answer but I want to answer two, the first being, “why Guatemala?” and the answer being, “because with over half of the population living in poverty, the need is great.” The second part is a little less clear-cut: “why do a bunch of doctors, nurses, translators, administrators, and others take a week of hard-earned vacation to pay their own way to go to a foreign country, fundraise for medical supplies to go work long, hard days in a hospital for free?” I can’t speak for everyone here (except I think by writing the blog that’s actually kind of my job) but I’d say that the answer is a mix of selflessness and selfishness. Humble, selfless acts of service show you a lot about a person. To quote an April 18th, Tweet by Kanye West, “if you wanna see the true character of person watch the way they treat someone who can't do anything for them.” I think that captures something that is true about the members of this team – its full of people who selflessly are laboring without looking for anything in return. The selfish “why” comes from the joy that is shared with someone when they help those in need. Veteran team members know that a counterintuitive thing happens when you humble yourself to serve those around you – you often end up benefiting immensely in ways you wouldn’t have expected. In his mammoth work War and Peace Leo Tolstoy writes, “Love awoke, and life awoke.” This phrase represents what happens when you love others: you become renewed. The ideas of renewing and rebirth are found all throughout scripture. Spiritual renewal is why I’ve come back to Guatemala. I hope by sharing the stories of Christ-like love this week, you too will be spiritually renewed and encouraged.
We hope that you will share our mission by praying for both physical and spiritual healing here in Guatemala this week. You can also share the mission by supporting it financially.