For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The time of singing has come….
–Song of Solomon 2: 11,12
It was the tail end of a very rainy Rainy Season, and it was beginning to look like we might make it through another season of political upheaval, tsunamis (well, very little ones), and a seemingly endless cycle of winter storms. There were still more mud puddles in Colón than dry land. And, as the rainy season had worn on, slogging to and fro through the mud, I began to contemplate the deeper meanings behind messages and mud puddles. Well, mud puddles came first actually. Perhaps it was too much time spent out in the bush, out in the rain, or under a leaky roof that inspired my mud puddle research.
MUD: mʌd/noun: mud 1.soft, sticky matter resulting from the mixing of earth and water. + PUDDLE: pʌd(ə)l/; plural noun: puddles 1.a small pool of liquid, (especially of rainwater) on the ground.
But I began to wonder if MPs might not be a heretofore underappreciated Honduran Natural Resource which could be tapped for the betterment of mankind. Early results, however, are not too promising.
From extensive research and exhaustive comparative study, I find the utility of mud puddles seems to be rather limited to their primary and secondary functions: (1) tadpole nurseries and (2) kid magnets. Dr. Judy sent me the following photo as a message from the Casa Santuario (the Sanctuary Children’s Home), which she thought might contribute to my research.
This documentation of mud babies in their native element led me to message back a query: “How well do they clean up?” Unfortunately, my cell phone (yes, though we still depend heavily upon 2 meter radio, Honduras does have cell phones now) has a particularly officious, often mistaken (but never in doubt) AutoCorrect function which somehow turned “How well do they clean up?” into “Well clean them up!” So a short time later Judy sent back this next photo.
Then I dashed off the following: “Hey, they look alright,” which the AutoCorrect Nazi seems to have turned into something like “Have them look at a light.” Thus the next picture…
At least that is how I’m disremembering that message chain, and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, you’ll probably agree that in the digital age, though communication may be instantaneous, the message can surely and easily lose its way.
At Loma de Luz, as in the rest of the world, I suppose, we get messaged all day long; some messages are digital, though most are not; most messages are mundane, but some are not. Although (like most of the developing world) most of our neighbors, the rural poor, don’t have direct access to a computer, many do have access to a smart phone. And while most people don’t have access to the open internet, many people do have access to a version of Facebook’s “Free” Basics. Whether you look at this as Facebook altruistically offering (very limited) internet access to the poor or as “digital colonialism” or as “ushering in the anti-Christ,” we look at it as “it is what it is.” And, it does offer us a window for direct communication with the Poor all over the country of Honduras. Loma de Luz recently opened a Facebook page, and we received scores of comments within the first day or so. Across the board, the messages could be represented by the following one (translated): “a Hospital where God is manifest with personnel used by God to show His love.”
Most of our messages from patients, though, are not digital. They may be non-verbal. For instance, when I see a bag of juice oranges left on a chair in the trauma clinic, I know that some patient wanted to express their gratitude, wanted to share something back out of their relative poverty.
But here at Loma de Luz, more often than anything, the messages are verbal.
“I trust first in God and then you, Dr.” is one so common and always seems so wrong that I respond almost without thinking, “solo Dios,” feeling like Martin Luther stomping around saying “solo scriptura.” But, not uncommonly, the message has a little more thought to it, like what Dave Alexander’s patient said to him not long ago:
“Doctor, look, I should have died from the cancer, but God healed me, and now He has healed me again…. You know I pray for you and for this hospital every Sunday in my church. I tell them how God healed me, and that this is a place where God’s hands touch the earth.”
Sometimes these verbal messages come in the form of oration, a speech. One of the better speeches I heard about recently came from one of our students, a boy named Hugo, who is currently making his way through the 4th grade at El Camino School. Apparently, there was some fracas on the school bus, the kind of fracas that Hugo would probably have instigated a mere month ago. But some weeks ago, Hugo had his own personal come-to-Jesus moment; and this time on the bus he stands up, calls for order, and declares that they should obey the bus driver “because we go to school to learn about Jesus and multiplications.” I guess that about sums it up.
We hear from many of you, one way or the other via social media, email, or even honest-to-goodness real paper-and-pen letters mailed to the Cornerstone Foundation Office. If these are addressed to me or Rosanne, they are scanned and sent down here via the somewhat circuitous route of mail to scanner to attachment to email to internet to us. We try to answer them all in the reverse order (email to office to print to mail). These letters most often come from the salt-of-the-earth kind of people just wanting to keep in touch. Here is an example from an elderly woman on a farm in Indiana. For years she has sent $30 per month to the Cornerstone Foundation and also tithes to this work her share of the profit from the crops on her 24 acre farm. She paces her 45 foot front porch, 99 times per morning, back and forth praying, from 0530 – 0800 every morning. I often think of her as representative of the kind of people holding up this work. I can’t express how seriously we take the responsibility to do something for our Lord with these precious gifts from people so precious to Him.
But beyond snapshots, message traffic, verbal and non-verbal communications, and circuitously forwarded paper mail, I also get a lot of email. It’s probably not much compared to some, but I don’t have a secretary, I do have another job or two, and I deal with about 150 letters a day. Admittedly, no matter how tight your junk mail filter, some of them are ads for “Your Best Life Ever” or something to that effect, but most of them are important messages for one reason or another. So although I never seem to be completely caught up, I feel a lot of pressure to try to do so. Some messages are important for logistical reasons, some for family reasons or fiscal reasons or for friendships and some for spiritual reasons or just basic human reasons.
This brief note that I received from an old friend in January was important on many levels.
Dear Dr. Jeff,
On Jan. 4, I was diagnosed with ALS. It has been a very long process, about a year, to get this diagnosis. Therefore I probably will meet my creator and savior in the near future unless He decides otherwise. I know from your bi-monthly letters that He has worked many miracles during your time in Honduras.
I consider it a privilege to be able to support your amazing work in that part of the world and I continue to pray for God’s blessing for this much needed work.
To tell you the truth, it was this letter from my friend Wolfgang that set me to meditating about messages in the first place. The mud puddle business of course was just a passing fancy. The mud puddles are all dried up now, but the messages remain. And all of these messages are coming from so many different kinds of people: a 10 year-old boy from a small village in Honduras, a gentle sophisticated world class concert violinist with Lou Gehrig’s disease, an ethnic German, an elderly widow from a farm in Indiana, USA; yet the messages are all somehow sort of similar. Like paving stones in a Roman road, they each have their distinctive characteristics, but they all fit together. It made me wonder, “Where is that road going?”
One last category of messages I would mention is the mystical kind, the messages in dreams and visions. I have heard from a number of people in recent times, people who in all other aspects one would consider to be sane and sober and critical thinkers, all other aspects but for their dreams and visions. I’m a private kind of person, but I am compelled to say that I have had such dreams myself. I would tell you of them privately if you asked. In each case for each person, these vision dreams were highly meaningful, intensely memorable, vividly multidimensional, very personal, imminently distinct one from another, yet they all carried a universal message. It is the same message. It is The Message.
Here is the message: The Master is returning soon. You are soon going to meet Him—either on this road, or at this road’s end. When you meet Him, more than anything, you will want to have something in your hand. Like the wise men from His first visit, you will want to have something to offer Him.
So pick some flowers. Fill your hand. We will each meet the Master, one at a time….soon… just down this road.
In Christ Jesus,
Jefferson McKenney, M.D.
News and Needs:
Supplies–We would appreciate any laptops that are 2013 or newer. If you have one (or some) you’d like to donate, contact Lindy or Kathleen at the Cornerstone office. (228 207-1811; [email protected]). Laptops can often be brought down by visiting volunteers (usually a quicker method of transportation) and at other times come down via container shipment.
Also, if you will be serving as a visiting volunteer at Loma de Luz at any point this year and are willing to courier supplies (laptops or other items) needing transport to Honduras, call Kathleen and Lindy and let them know (same contact info as above).
Personnel–Here are some of our people-needs for you to think about and pray about:
- We need a videographer / social media manager.
- We also continue to need people willing to serve as teachers for the El Camino bilingual school. These positions are essential to this crucial work.
- We need additional medium-term or (better) long-term missionaries to serve in administrative roles.
- We need mechanics.
We also need people to serve in the Sanctuary Children’s Home leadership.
Mud puddles… As I reflect, the two groups whom mud puddles mainly serve—tadpoles and human children—are pretty cool. Where I live, when spring first begins to make inroads against winter through occasional mild days, a beautiful sound can be heard in the distance (anyplace where not too far away there is a creek or a stream or some damp woodland). It is the chorus call of spring peepers–a type of very small frog whose calls are similar to the peeping sound of a clutch of chicks. Their song heralds spring bravely and full of hope. And when cold weather makes a few last stabs, they are able to hibernate long enough to stay alive until the milder weather revives again, at which point they re-emerge and sing anew. And children…they make us full of hope as well. They make us smile because they are so trusting and sincere, and they make us try harder to do right for the same reason. They frequently make us frustrated or worn out and require a lot of hard work. But they also make us laugh because they are so transparent. They are also full of wonder. Adults sometimes require faultlessly manicured landscaping to be impressed. Children only need one violet or three clover blossoms or a patch of moss. God has given us many gifts. May we appreciate them with wonder, and may we sense what they often point to wordlessly–the hope, the joy, and the certainty of His return.
–Sally Mahoney for Cornerstone Foundation
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