April 2021 Newsletter
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
–Colossians 3:23, 24
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.
This is a Bird that Lolo made.
This is Lolo’s topiary “Treehouse.”
This is Lolo’s Giraffe,
and this is Lolo watering his giraffe.
It may not look to you like a giraffe. Don’t tell Lolo I said so, but I tend to think of it as Lolo’s Llama….and I’m pretty sure Lolo has never seen a giraffe in person… nor a llama for that matter. But that is not the point. Whimsical as it may seem at first glance, I’m coming to see Lolo’s Giraffe as a good example of something we can do, one of the top ten things that you can do, to overcome the darkness in a daily darkening world.
Lolo’s real name is Dolores. (No wonder he goes by Lolo, eh?) I’ve never heard anyone call him that. I had to ask Chrysti to look up his job contract to see what his actual legal given name was. No, everyone calls him Don Lolo if being formal, or Lolo when being informal. It is a funny thing about the Honduran Campesino culture, that the holdover of the very formal Honorific prefix “Don” (derived from the Latin Dominus: the master of a household….in English it would correspond roughly to “Sir,” as in “Sir Galahad”), is often coupled with the very informal nickname everyone is known by. So, it is considered plain good manners to address any respectable man of middle age or older as “Don,” followed by his first name (e.g. “Don Francisco” or “Don Gregorio”). But most every guy, at least in the campo, has a nickname almost from birth, nicknames like these: Zarco (pale eyes), Chato (pug-nosed), Chele (pale skinned), Pico (beak-nose), Caracol (slow, like a snail), Rata (shifty, like a rat), Sapo (ugly, like a toad), Mamon (immature, like a nursing baby), Lloron (crybaby), Flaco (skinny), and Gordo (fatty). And no one seems to see any incongruity with combining the honorific “Sir” with the nickname. So, while addressing someone in English as “Sir Fatty” or “Sir Beak-nose” might lead to an altercation, here you’d just be being polite and fondly familiar at the same time.
But I see that just a couple of paragraphs into my telling of the tale, I’ve already wandered far off point. Lolo is the head gardener at Loma de Luz, a position he kind of graduated into by consistently gardening above and beyond the call of duty. While I was checking Lolo’s contract & job description to find out what his legal name is, I made sure that creating whimsical topiary animals and writing Hospital Loma de Luz in border grass was not required in his job description. Nope. Just “gardener.” Lolo raises up flowers not so much because he is required to, or so that he can get a paycheck. He would get paid without going the extra mile, but, as he told me, he sees it like this: “Dios crea todo, las flores y los pájaros. Así que me gusta hacer cosas bonitas para Él” (“God created everything, the flowers and the birds. So, I like to make pretty things for Him”).
Then there is Don Paco’s wall.
The house we have lived in for the past @ 15 years, I built back into a hillside. I did so in part for the ambient cooling this provides, and in part because my little ranch, like most of the terrain around here, is a lot more hillside, a lot more “purple mountain majesties” than “fruited plain.” So, there is a very substantial retaining wall all across the back of the house. The first wall we built held just fine… until the first big series of winter storms; then, “great was the fall of it.” So, after some wailing and gnashing of teeth (on my part), I cleaned up the mess and redesigned the wall. Then I asked around as to who was the best wall builder in the area. Everyone said, “Don Paco.” Now Don Paco’s given name, like every “Paco,” is Francisco, and I could wander off point again with the unsolicited explanation about Saint Francis being Pater Comunitas, but I figure you’ve already heard more than enough about names and nicknames.
This is a part of Don Paco’s wall.
I thought about getting Paco to come down off the mountain for a photo with it. And, he would have come, I’m sure. But Paco is retired now and coming down off the mountain takes a little more out of you when you are pushing 80 than it did when you were young and spry in your 60’s. So, I didn’t want to trouble him just for a photo. We’ll have to get by with a photo of just a wall… but it still shows clearly what I’m talking about.
In addition to the fact that this wall has subsequently stood firm through 14 rainy seasons and a double handful of hurricanes and tropical storms, you’ll note that in the center of the rock cladding, Don Paco carved and carefully placed a Bas-relief of Poinsettia flowers, the flowers that here we call “Pasqua” (“Passover”) and are associated with Easter and subsequently with resurrection. Don Paco didn’t have to carve and place this special stone poem. It was neither requested nor expected. He did it as something special for us, and… because he built this wall “como para el Señor,” as unto the Lord.
I’ll just give one last example of working “as unto the Lord,” and this one is of the kind of work in the fields of the human condition, where the artifacts are written in “tablets of flesh” and the souls of men. In this realm the results are sometimes difficult to sum up in a ledger, and, after a while, even the scars of the cost are hard to see.
Little Alan Samueel…. He was just one of hundreds of patients we cared for during the week he was with us. But he is probably the one that many of us will remember the most. Alan was 15 months old, and he was left unattended when he inhaled some small piece of plastic unwitnessed. He was apparently left unattended a lot, since no one even knew that he had done so until days after the event, until we were well into the initial resuscitation. Still, it was clear from his arrival in the Emergency Room that he had an upper airway obstruction that was rapidly worsening. We took him to the operating room where (with a tiny little bronchoscope) we caught fleeting glimpses of this piece of plastic as it moved down his trachea and out into his bronchi. We had to put in a tiny little tracheostomy in a tiny little trachea to be able to assist and then manage his breathing. Then for the next week we had to completely control his breathing…. The “we” included nurses and doctors and techs, and even came to include some far away experts in Pediatric Intensive Care and Pediatric Pulmonology consulted and connected with us via internet.
Here are some of the “we.”
And here are some of the support staff
(For, you see, it is not to be forgotten that what “we” do requires a lot of support staff and most certainly involves the lives of our friends and families, including the time, patience, and flexibility of our children.)
All of the “we” would intermittently come together to deal with some crisis, but these clusters of group effort were strung together like pearls on a string, with many long stretches of hours when it was just one person and the baby: one person hand bagging, and suctioning, and watching the monitors and the drips… and the clock. It is natural to give it your all in a crisis. But when it is 3:00 AM and you’ve been hand bagging an unresponsive Pediatric patient since 8:00 PM the previous night, it is also natural to be thinking of ways to put him back on mechanical ventilation for a while so you can get some sleep. But no one did what was easier. Everyone I watched involved in his care gave it their all, all of the time, like they were working for the Lord….and so they were.
In the end, though his respiratory problems were improving, the rest of his body, and particularly his brain, had just had too many micro injuries add up, and he did not recover. So this is not the kind of encouraging miracle story we do often see here at Loma de Luz. Instead, this was a week-long, non-stop Battle of Thermopylae. We did all we could and then some, and all the while, the family was treated with graciousness, and watched Christians at work, “as unto the Lord.” Yet, at the end of that week Alan Samueel went to heaven. We weren’t left with any artistic topiary landscaping or a carved rock in a wall that will speak for centuries of doing something special because you are working for the Master. We were left with the scars that come with this kind of work… but the knowledge that we did our best, as unto the Lord. I realize that this was no effort which “the world will long remember.” The world never even noticed in the first place. But, The One who is mindful of each single sparrow which falls, He remembers…. He never forgets. And, we were working for Him.
That’s the point. That is just the point.
Flowers and stone, flesh and bone, we all have different jobs to do. But there is something that we each can do which turns on a light in the darkness. Whatever any of us may be doing (“καὶ πᾶν ὃ τι ἐὰν ποιῆτε”), let us see it through the lens of Paul’s encouragement to the church at Colossae: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” This is the perspective which cannot be “cancelled.” It can’t be stolen or shouted down or nullified by executive action. There is nothing political or divisive about it. It’s personal. A personal recognition of who you are, of why you do what you do, of who you’re going to serve. And that, my friend, starts the revolution. For the Gospel is revolutionary. It recognizes the eternal consequence of our every action and returns the proper perspective and purpose to all things,”…for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Viva la revolución.
In Christ Jesus,
Jefferson McKenney, M.D.
News and Needs:
Skills Needed: At Loma de Luz we always have need for missionaries with special skills. One of our most important ongoing needs currently is for a construction engineer. We are always growing at Loma de Luz. There are now about 75 buildings at Loma de Luz to maintain and remodel, and there are always several new building projects underway. Though the need always exceeds out ability to meet the need, we just do not have enough leadership and supervision to maintain and grow. So, if you or someone you know is an engineer, a builder, or an organized and hardworking person willing to learn, we need Construction and Maintenance missionaries at Loma de Luz. Please put it before the Lord.
El Camino Bilingual School NEEDS TEACHERS
for either Elementary School or Jr. High: Please check out our website for more details: https://crstone.org/el-camino-bilingual-school/ .
Marty McKenney: For the past 30 years, Marty McKenney, my mother, has been a behind-the-scenes rock and support of Loma de Luz / the Cornerstone Foundation in many ways (including getting this newsletter into your mailbox). She has been recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer. We would greatly appreciate your prayers for her.
Honduras, Covid-19, and Travel: Setting aside (if possible) all of the politics, loss of civil liberties, and often confoundingly irrational governmental controls that the Covid-19 pandemic has been used to justify, it has been a significant public health issue all the same. In general, Honduras has had about 1/4th of the number of deaths per million population (432 by 13 March 2021 ~ 1 year after the first case in Honduras) compared to many industrialized nations (USA 1641 deaths per million, UK 1840, Spain 1545, Italy 1682, Portugal 1636, Belgium 1927). This most likely has more to do with the average age of the population in Honduras (23.4 years), compared to these industrialized nations (USA 38.3, UK 40.5, France 42.3, Spain 44.9, Belgium 41.9, Portugal 46.2, Italy 47.3) than with anything else. And in Honduras, as in many parts of the world (including the USA), both by daily new cases, and by daily deaths, Covid-19 is certainly on the downhill (improving) side of the risk curve. Currently, to travel to Honduras a “negative” Covid test (serum antibodies, nasal antigen fast test, or nasal PCR test) dated no more than 72 hours prior to travel is required. The same requirement is mandated by the USA to travel from Honduras to the USA. No quarantine period is required, and we can do these tests (serum antibody or nasal antigen fast test) for you at Loma de Luz. For more information regarding travel to and from Loma de Luz, contact the Visitor Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected].
Prayer Alert Email List: Some of you prayed for little Alan Samueel because you are on the Cornerstone email prayer alert list. If you are not on this list and would like to join it, please email Sally Mahoney at [email protected].
Thank you for the many ways you support the work of the Lord at Loma de Luz—your prayers, your actions, your kind giving, your questions and letters. May you be encouraged that such things really do make a difference. Millions of wildflowers bloom every day in remote areas where no human eye will see them. But they ARE seen. They are seen by God their Creator, a Maker who showers beauty on the wild lands and calls none of it wasted or small. So, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men.” None of it is wasted or small.
—Sally Mahoney for Cornerstone