I wish you could all be here with us in Mango. Not because I would put you to work (although I probably would!) but because writing about life here is sometimes just as disappointing as standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and taking a picture with your phone. As you try and share your experience through the small photo, everyone around you nods in delight but you know they can't actually grasp what you saw in person.
That's because beauty comes from the movement of your soul, not the image before your eyes.
The Hospital of Hope is beauty--not because the tiles are shiny and the equipment is new, but because the hundreds of stories taking place inside every day stir your soul. Sometimes that stirring is joy and hope, and other times it's crushing.
We have had four deaths in the hospital so far, and all have come out of Pediatrics--severe malaria in a 2 and 4 year old, a newborn born several hours away who had gone too long without oxygen, and our first infant born via C-Section who was diagnosed with a irreparable congenital heart defect hours later.
It doesn't take much for discouragement to try and overtake you after spending a full 24 hours working, praying, pleading for the life of another person only to lose the battle. I've thought to myself more than once this week, "how can I welcome this woman to the Hospital of Hope when she just lost her only child on my watch?"
I've actually been through this before, after moving to Togo for the first time in 2012--Death, discouragement, doubt.
I told a family that their new baby boy, hours old, would only survive a few more hours due to a heart that wasn't formed right. I openly struggled to get through a prayer for them afterwards. Tears from fatigue and disappointment were unstoppable. Afterwards, the family told me that is was God who decided for it to be this way. I took a moment to figure out who was comforting who.
As I walked away, I approached our new, young 17 year-old mother of premature twin girls. Life was passing from one room and entering into the other. I sat and held one of the twins for a few moments in amazement of God's grace on this young mom and these tiny girls. The juxtaposition was almost too much to take in and I walked outside to breathe in some cool night air. The 3am night sky was still as I sought peace that could only come from the Lord.
Moments later a strong wind came through for only about a minute, then calmed. The lyrics to a beautiful song immediately came to me:
So let go my soul and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.
When Jesus stilled the storm from within the boat as he traveled with the disciples, they saw Him next to them, but they couldn't fix their eyes on the power that was before them.
Death can feel like an inescapable power that is ever before me here. An enemy that always wins at some point. But there isn't one life that passes into or out of this world without the word of the Lord, and it's beautiful. It's all beautiful.
I praise the Lord for letting me be here to see it all, to be moved by it all. Pray for me as I breathe it all in. Please pray for all of us here, whose purpose and joy is to bring the message that Christ has conquered death, and he is longing for all to pass from death into life.
**Song mentioned is by Bethel- It is Well, Album: You Make me Brave**