And He said unto them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:” for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. –Mark 6:3
Since the last newsletter it must have been pretty clear that Rosanne and I were running on fumes. Obvious enough that our friends and coworkers got together and sent us away to an asylum for a couple of days. Not the Insane kind of Asylum, but a beautiful, peaceful place at the foot of the mountains a couple of hours from Loma de Luz.
Lodge @ Pico Bonito
A couple of days won’t be enough. But it helps. And what helps so much is that it was our friends and co-workers who cared enough to notice. To notice and do something about it. (See principle # 2 following.)
In the July Newsletter I wrote about growing weary in well doing, about burnout. I introduced the problem, how pervasive, how destructive to people’s lives, how injurious to the Kingdom. Knowing too well what it looks like from the bottom of that pit, I wanted to share solutions, “principles I’ve painfully learned on the field.” I promised to complete what I had to say in the next Newsletter.
This is the next newsletter.
In the interim, the “ten principles” have grown to a dozen. Most of the first half a dozen principles are in some way self-evident. You might say they come from the easy part of the Gospel. Several of them would be recognized by most counselors and might be found in any pamphlet on burnout. The second half dozen are from the hard part of the Gospel and, as such, often distinctly counter-intuitive…. But still true. And like these couple of days away, no one of these principles is enough. But it is my belief and experience that each one helps.
Surprisingly I heard from quite a number of people who actually read all the way to the end of the previous article. To be quite honest, I don’t like to share private matters in a public forum. But that seems to be part of my odd job, part of my “reasonable service” to my Master. And, a humbling number of people expressed concern for us… are we burned out? So, I’ll be honest. Yeah, we have grown pretty weary in well doing. But we’re still here. We’re still showing up for work. So, let me share my notes with you. It probably won’t be enough. But it is my hope that it might help someone.
What follows then are a dozen Principles and a few short stories: straight from the Gospel Primer of What did Jesus Do? and rigorously field tested on the edge of burnout. The first four I essentially discussed in the previous newsletter, and you can read that letter on our website archives. In short, they were the following:
1.) We are not made to work constantly.
Illustrated by Luke 5:15,16 & Mark 2:27.
The balance? People need rest and time away from duty.
2.) Recognize burnout (preferably proactively) and do something about it.
Illustrated by Mark 6:31
The balance? People need purpose, but they also need food, rest, time away, variety, and loyalty.
3.) Do something other than ministry.
Illustrated by John 21:3
The balance? Go fishing.
4.) Bear another person’s burdens.
Illustrated by Gal. 6:2 & Matt.11:28-30
(Here, in the last newsletter, I told the story of Doña Julia & Doña Conchetina. Both are doing well, by the way.)
Now, here are the rest of the principles:
5.) Express your gratitude.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” –Luke 17: 15-19
It may seem paradoxical, but gratitude is a common characteristic among the Honduran poor.
I would say I have learned more about the liberating nature of gratitude from them than anyone else. Among 100 examples of this past month, Omar comes to mind. Omar was a small vender of eggs and bread in the central street market in La Ceiba… until that day 4 years ago when he was shot by some hopped-up marero… shot after he had delivered up what little money he had. Unable to walk and in pain for 4 years with a fractured femur apparently no one could fix, when asked how he felt before surgery at Loma de Luz, he said he was just so grateful to have found this hospital… Not bitter for four years of “needless” pain and debility, instead, grateful for a chance to be healed. From guys like Omar I’ve learned that you can choose to be bitter or you can choose to be grateful.
6.) Practice generosity.
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. –Matthew 10:42
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. –1 John 3:16-18
That the poor are proportionally more generous than the rich is a tendency which has been well established in the literature of Psychology. We see it played out here daily. But we have also noticed that one of the characteristics of missionaries who make it is that they are generous.
7.) Remember who you serve.
Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.. —Matthew 23:8
Like it says in the Bob Dylan song, “You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
In this cosmos you’re going to have to serve somebody. Every soul does. But you have a choice. Chose whom you will serve.
Once you get that sorted, remember who you serve.
8.) Suck it up. You still have to do the Master’s bidding until those who need healing are healed, until the field is plowed. So, suck it up.
…Taking them away privately, He withdrew to a town called Bethsaida. But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. –Luke 9:10,11
Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” —Luke 9:62
Once, perhaps 20 years ago… When the Hospital was still just a building under construction, we had a worker (I’ll call him “T”) badly injured in an accident at Loma de Luz. We got him to Hospital DÁntoni… the best private hospital in the nearest city, La Ceiba, but there was no surgeon there to operate on him. Out of some combination of desperation and temerity, we asked if we could. Looking back, we still wonder why they said yes. No credentials shown, I had no hospital privileges there. In fact we didn’t know a single soul in the entire hospital. They even loaned us a completely disengaged Anesthetist… but nothing else. Kind of surreally, we found ourselves operating on a critically injured man (ruptured spleen, torn diaphragm, mangled intestines). But with just me and Rosanne. No scrub tech, no circulating nurse, no knowledge of where things were in the hospital. Just very basic instruments and suture, and a big, incredibly hot, nearly empty room with no ventilation. Rosanne had been feeling sick already and I don’t know if it was that or the heat and the stress, but not long into the case, before I had control of the splenic pedicle, Rosanne mumbled, “I think I’m going to faint.”
As she was slumping toward the floor, I reached across this man’s open, bleeding-out abdomen, locked Rosanne’s elbows, put my face two inches from hers and said (lovingly, I’m sure) “WELL, DON’T.”
And, you know, she pulled herself together and didn’t. We finished the operation successfully.
I saw T at the Quince de Septiembre parade the other day…Now gray at the temples, he came out of his house smiling to shake hands. If Rosanne hadn’t pulled herself together that long ago day, he wouldn’t have been there. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what needs to be done no matter how you feel.
9.) Show up for work. You have been bought with a price. Your life is no longer your own. So, toe the line and Show up for work.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. –Matthew 5:15
And Mary said, “Behold, the bond slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. —Luke 1:38
Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your reasonable service, your true worship. — Romans 12:1
Norma (“Normita”) is one of my favorite people at the hospital. She works in Limpieza. I guess you would call her a janitress in English. Normita is a kind and faithful and gentle soul. And, she shows up for work, on time, and does her job, and does it well. I remember a few years ago, Normita was kind of surprised that after the rest of her children were pretty much grown, she found herself pregnant again. Though a little late in life for it, she carried the child to term, and delivered a little boy with Trisomy 21, Downs Syndrome. Surprised she may have been, but, oh, how she loved that little guy. Sadly, he was always sickly and as I recall didn’t quite make it to 3 months of age. Then, oh, how she grieved… silently mostly… still does. But despite the grieving, the day her post-partem leave was up. Norma was there, on time, back at work.
Not long after she returned, I asked her how she was holding up. She smiled sadly and said, “a person has to do their work.”
10.) Trust: Sometimes the hardest thing for some of us to do.
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you…. –Matthew 6:6
If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? —Matthew 6:30
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. –II Corinthians 12:9
Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you. —I Peter 5:7
Sometimes you’ve got no choice. Sometimes you’re just going to have to be still and trust God— that His arm is not too short, that His hearing has not grown dull, that he cares for you.
11.) Have people praying for you.
…. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word… –John 17:20
“The Farewell Prayer” (John 17:1-26) is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus. It is an intercessory prayer for those who have been faithful to Him who were going to be left behind after His ascension. By example, it informs and reminds us that we need people praying for us… and they need to know what to pray for.
I wish I had space to tell a hundred of these stories. But to those who pray for us… Thank you. It has made all the difference more times than I can count.
Let people know that you need their prayers…and what to pray for.
12.) Remember the Name
… at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven and things on earth and things under the earth… –Philippians 2:10
…It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” … Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. —Acts 4: 10-12
Some of you might recall a true tale I told four years ago this month, about Doña Rubinia, who was shot and facing down her assailants. She called upon the name of Christ Jesus, and her assailants were frozen in place. The one who was about to execute an 18 year-old boy on his knees was thrown by some unseen force clear across the road. I know perhaps half a dozen dramatic stories like that. But I share this with the weight of uncounted personal experiences, most far less dramatic, but many equally desperate. When you have nothing left, when your back is against the wall, preferably before your back is against the wall… as soon as you think of it, Call upon The Name…. out loud. For He will never leave you nor forsake you… and things will get better. They will.
Then catch your breath, but make a change.
See what might be missing.
It might be one of these principles here. It might be in striking the right balance between the easy part of the Gospel and the hard part.
But you can’t quit, you know.
Remember who you serve.
His grace will be sufficient for you.
In Christ Jesus,
Jefferson McKenney, M.D.
News and Needs:
- Solar: Partly because the electrical grid power in Honduras is so poor and unreliable, and partly because we see it as simply good stewardship, we’ve long been committed to developing alternate energy sources for Loma de Luz. We see it as a long-term investment in sustainability. During 2018 we have completed 2 related phases of solar electric projects at a cost of about $75,000. Many of you contributed to this significant investment for Loma de Luz. After working out a few kinks, they are now both functioning well and on a whole providing roughly 20% of our electrical needs with a projected annual savings of $10,120. This represents an annual return on investment of 13.5%. Thank you for your far-sighted generosity.
- La Quinta Property: A couple of years ago the Cornerstone Foundation was given a piece of undeveloped land just west of the hospital. Our long-range vision for it is that it will be the site of a language school and a vocational /trade school for local young people. When starting with completely undeveloped land, one of the first things that has to be established is a water source. Over the past several months, with a project headed by Gabriel McKenney, we now have developed a great water system brought to the center of the property, and we are poised for the next step.
La Quinta Water Works
3. Upcoming conferences: The Cornerstone Foundation will have booths & personal representatives at the following conferences in upcoming months: The Global Missions Health Conference, (Nov. 8-10, Louisville, KY), and The Urbana Student Missions Conference (Dec. 27-31, St. Louis, MO). If you are in the area… or even interested enough to travel there, please stop in.
At its heart, the Cornerstone Foundation, Asociación Piedra Angular de Honduras, and Loma de Luz are Evangelical works… providing with our lives, words, and deeds the best hearing we can for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But how do we quantify the outcome? El Camino Bilingual School currently has 120 promising young students. Casa Santuario has now cared for 128 marginalized & “at risk” children on a medium to long-term basis. The active chart numbers of individual patients at Loma de Luz will soon pass 50,000, reflecting more than 15,000 operations, more than 300,000 patient visits over the years of operations. This is a reflection of a significant impact in the commission of Christian service. How many souls have been affected for the Kingdom of Heaven in Honduras we can’t know. But by our best estimates we can count on more than 100,000 people witnessed to, more than 7,500 souls who made a decision for the Lord, and more than 13,500 souls re-committed to the Kingdom of Heaven. If every soul is of infinite (∞) value, 20,000 x ∞ is a very large number. If you have ever said a prayer for, donated 1¢ toward, or volunteered 1 hour for this work, you have made an incalculable impact for the Kingdom of God. Thank you.
- El Camino School: At El Camino School we are currently teaching 120 students from Preparatory through 6th grade (8 grades) and have committed to adding another grade each year through high school. We always need Teachers and Teacher’s Aides.
- It has been said that “From a cooperative perspective, the business of good Missions, is good business.” Loma de Luz is a large cooperative effort, and as such has an ongoing need for missionaries with a business background, a business perspective. We have a particular need for missionaries to work in these areas of business:
Small business administration
Restaurant management (kitchens & cafeterias)
- Casa Santuario: We have real need for missionaries called to Child Care.
- Hospital Loma de Luz: We have a clear need for more good medical missionaries, particularly Nurses, Family Practitioner, Nurse Anesthetist or Anesthesiologist, another General Surgeon, and an Orthopedic Surgeon.
Thanks for sticking with us through this longish newsletter. And thanks for sticking with this work through the years. If you are new to Cornerstone, thanks in advance for keeping us in your prayers in the future.
When I wake and sense that I need to get up despite worries I am not yet awake enough to articulate, I often speak to myself one of a couple of scriptures…they just come to me. When I’m afraid, it is usually Psalm 103:1. When I just feel weighed down, it is usually Philippians 2:13–It is God who works within you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He offers us not only help in doing what He wants us to do but also in desiring to do it. I appreciate that—it covers it all.
–Sally Mahoney for Cornerstone Foundation
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