Friday, October 9, 2009

Ethiopia tomorrow

Tonight, sitting on the floor with two dogs vying for my attention, I glimpsed again the tattoo on my friend Seth's foot.

"Walk humbly," it says, to match the tattoo on his chest ("love mercy") and the tattoo on his wrist ("do justice").

There are so many ways to encourage ourselves to love mercy. We might title our blogs certain ways. Inscribe the verses on our bodies. Write them on our doorposts.

Or go halfway around the world to try to find out what they mean.

Tomorrow I leave for Ethiopia on a two-week medical mission trip. The plans have been brewing for some months, and at last the day is almost here. Back in August I excitedly signed up, hoping I would sample my future life calling while binding up the broken hearts and wounded bodies of brothers and sisters in Addis Ababa. This journey, I hoped, would be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. From this trip I believed I would learn how to structure the rest of my life. Go with this mission organization or an NGO? Go in the future as an RN or should I return to school to become a nurse practitioner? And so on and so forth.

Instead I have learned that the way Jesus wants me to love mercy is to learn how to love through Word, not deed. In other words, this trip is not going to be very medical at all. There is no doctor going on the trip, and so we cannot run clinics or treat patients. Instead of the medical aspect of this trip being a lamp and a light to my future path, the Word itself will be the lamp and the light and the focus of this trip. Instead of treating headaches and heartburn, I will be leading support groups with young girls, knitting and making jewelry alongside Ethiopian women in the mission, sharing my testimony with clinic beneficiaries in their homes, and participating in a daily Bible study for team members.

Not what I envisioned. But oh, how needed! As I have returned to the Word and poured over my journal in my hasty preparation for this trip, I have seen again my own lack of knowledge and sorry slipshod reliance upon Jesus. As Chrissie pointed out, perhaps this trip is pinpointing my greatest need... and my greatest need might not be to get clear direction about my medical future. Instead it might be to grow and mature spiritually and as a spiritual leader.

Learning to love mercy (and do justice... and walk very, very humbly) is taught in so many ways.

He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom.
Isaiah 40:11