Wednesday, June 25, 2014
“No man is an island entire of itself.” — John Donne (he wrote this four hundred years ago—today it would say no “person” is an island)
Basically put, we need each other. The poet above is certainly right that we cannot exist completely alone. As children, we need parents, family, teachers, coaches, pastors, Sunday School teachers, and other adults who care for us, about us, and believe in us. As adults, we need the exact same things. When I list all that we have accomplished here at this mission over the last ten years, the list is an impressive one—but it wasn’t “we” that accomplished it. Not if the word “we” implies me, Karen, and John. It includes all of the people from all over the world who have come here to do mission work. It includes all those from the churches of those who came who donated and worked so that the ones who came were able to come. It includes all those on our staff who made sure there was food to eat, clean places to sleep, showers that worked, a safe place in which to stay, and the drivers of our cars and rented vehicles that took the groups to where they worked. It includes thousands of people who have been, are, and continue to pray for our mission and the work that is done here. It includes the children in Sunday Schools who helped send money to buy mosquito nets and the grandchildren of my cousin who sent money to buy goats for widows. It includes taxi drivers, store owners, and others who have gone out of their way to make our work here possible. It has to include the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others who have kept us alive and healthy. It includes doctors from Norway, Egypt, and South Africa who have performed life-saving surgery on me. It includes a cardiologist from Chicago who lives in Kenya and saved my wife’s life in 2010. It even includes those we have helped here and who have thanked us in so many sincere and grateful ways. I got a text message just the other day that just said, “Thanks for the rent, Daddy.” This was from a young man getting his Master’s degree on a full scholarship that included everything but the $25 a month rent for his little apartment near the school in Dar Es Salaam. I helped pay for most of his education beginning in middle school and he graduated first in his class with high honors from the University I helped him attend. It also includes the young woman who sends us little text messages of thanks and is finishing her Bachelor’s in Nursing degree. She is the daughter of one of our staff, and we have been paying her school fees since she was in primary school. It also includes the personal messages we get that thank us for our work, the “likes” on Facebook posts, the +ones on Google Plus, the comments on this blog, and the emails that bring with them encouragement and the acknowledgement that we are not having to do this all by ourselves. Last night we had a friend from the U.S. drop by for just a couple of hours out of her two-week mission trip, but it was important to us that she cared enough to come by and to bring us some little gifts. She was reminding us that we are not alone. We are not an island. We are connected to a mainland that spans oceans. We may use the word “we” too often without this additional explanation, but there is no way that “we” could be doing any of this without the “ya’ll” that includes all of the above and many I may have left out. To put it metaphorically, “we” are only the hose, not the water, but the water is needed for so many things and the strength of the flow is decided by many who have never been here, never met any of the three of us, and who just love Jesus and want to help. If “we” do our work well, the hose gets directed so that the water cleans, slakes thirst, makes things grow, and supplies the love that comes from God and God alone. God bless all of ya’ll who know that if we and not "we" try to do this on our own, we will fail. “We” when I write it, always means all of the above and we (the three of us) love you more than you will ever know.