January 2018 my daughter and I were excited to partner with a church team from North Carolina to serve in the Dominican. My intent was to stretch my faith, but even more so, to come alongside my 13 year old daughter and expose her to God’s heart for the world and see Christianity beyond the American church. As I reread my journal entries from our week of serving, I found a Scripture that I had scribbled above our first day of ministry:
2 Chronicles 20:12 – “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Looking back, I see that this week of ministry — specifically a nursing home with its culturally neglected Haitian residents, the burden of a pastor and the joy of a nurse with overwhelming tasks — taught me to be humble enough to echo King Jehoshaphat’s prayer: to stop relying on me and bring daily burdens to Jesus.
Our first day of serving felt like a chaotic disaster from a human perspective…visiting children in the village our balloon animals turned into swords and it all seemed to go downhill from there. So I was eager for Day #2’s assignment at a nursing home. As a nurse by profession and starting at a nursing home myself as a 15 year old, I thought surely this will be a ‘successful’ day of serving. However, I was again completely humbled and overwhelmed.
That day my professional nurse skills were either useless, or I completely bumbled the simple tasks. But our team devotional that morning spoke to the opportunity we have to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Without the language of Spanish or Creole to communicate the love of Jesus, we spent the morning rubbing coconut oil into the hands and feet of each of the residents. Kneeling beside them to offer this simple act of love became one of my most treasured and sweetest moments of my week. So many aspects of this visit pulled at my heart…from a nurse’s perspective, I felt so helpless, also as a pastor’s wife serving in a small rural church I had some understanding of Pastor Geraldo’s burden to shepherd people, and his feeling of helplessness to fulfill God’s call to love the poorest of the poor. Moreover, before we left that day, our team asked how we can pray or what needs we could meet.
Through translation, Pastor Geraldo responded, “our needs are many, but simply pray that God would daily provide the food and the medicine to care for all these elderly people He has entrusted to us.” I was moved and convicted by his response…so many needs, yet would you just pray for our daily bread?
Later that evening, our team listened to the role SCORE missionaries held in the nearby communities. As our translator for that day shared her role in child sponsorship, I was drawn to this thought: Could this be an answer to the burden of Pastor Geraldo? Could elderly, nursing home residents be sponsored in a similar way and how or what would that look like? As the idea grew in my heart, I began to share, and although, feedback was always positive, it seemed to me without common language or feet on the ground, it was futile for me to pursue. However, it was Pastor Geraldo and the nursing staffs’ simple faith that convicted me to keep praying for the daily needs they requested. And praying kept my eyes on Jesus because no, I can’t, but God, through his people, can.
I would have to say my present life is filled with my favorite roles of wife, mom of 4, and pastor’s wife in rural western PA. And with this comes a frequent conviction: the paradox that daily stillness with Jesus is my most productive time.