A Lifestyle Choice

Yesterday I stopped by the office of someone in our faith family. I got a tour of a local RV park, but it wasn’t what you would expect. First of all, they don’t call them RV’s (they’re “motorcoaches”), and secondly, it wasn’t really a park. It was 80 acres of top-shelf resort. Large lakes, a marina, tennis, golf, restaurant, fitness… more than I can list.

“How much do they cost?” I asked. “That one on the corner over there went for over $1 million”. She pointed to a nice piece of land, probably about 3000 square feet, which is about 1/3 the size of a normal house lot in most neighborhoods. What does a million dollars get you? They make you spend $1500 a year at the restaurant and HOA’s are $500/mo. And there is no home until you drive your $500k RV into your lot.

$1.5 million will buy you a nice house in the desert… a really nice house. Why do people buy in an RV… er… Motorcoach club? It fits their lifestyle. For some people, this is their dream. I don’t begrudge them their choice, but it got me thinking. What lifestyle choices do I make that would seem ridiculous to someone who is totally unfamiliar with the way we live in America (or even on the “other side of the tracks”)?

Having just come back from Nicaragua, I have some idea of how people live in other countries. Guilt and shame aren’t my motivation for asking these questions of myself. It’s more of illuminating the root of what I want… why I chose my lifestyle choices. One of the things I’ve discovered is that lifestyle choices aren’t bad, as long as they are actually well thought-out choices and not lifestyle accidents.

-Shawn

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Three weeks until the Exodus Experience

When we tell the stories of the kids we help, we always do this with a sense of wonder, beauty and awe. Art it many forms is a great way to allow people to feel the visceral movement – the spiritual compulsion – we all have to help kids get healing. I am committed to avoiding manipulation or coercion in favor of exploring wonder and joy.

One of my favorite stories is that of the time Jesus resurrects the only son of a widow. His heart broke, but only for a second.

Luke 7:14-16: Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”

I love to see people in awe. When someone is in awe, hope is also nearby. Awe means that we have not just new information, but a new perspective. In that new perspective, something about us feels different. It’s not just that our cognition changes; we are a different, transformed person.

I want to share these stories in beautiful ways with creative people. Great music, food, art… all to celebrate the stories of the kids who are brought to healing through Rooftop 519.

One of our good friends from Orphan Relief and Rescue, Nurse Debbie, will be with us that evening. She’s the nurse that identified Exodus. Exodus’s host parents and her church will also be there. Come celebrate with us at this year’s Exodus Experience.

If you’re an artist who is interested in participating, please email me or comment below. We would love to have you help us bring people to a place of beauty, awe, compassion and wonder.

-Shawn

Coffee, Culture and Cute Kids.

Last night was my first visit to a coffee plantation. Our host says she is too old to drive the 4×4 Toyota Hillux up the steep mountainside. She trusted me with the drive, probably about 1500 elevation again, up roads that feel like they were made for mountain goats. I loved it.

We had a bonfire, great food & live music. The humble people of Jinotega have given us their deepest thanks. I loved everything about last night, including the amazing rainstorm that chased us to shelter. When it wasn’t raining, the fireflies looked like a curtain of dim Christmas lights hung through the gardens.

Ryan and I had an opportunity to walk through the market yesterday afternoon.

We saw the parks, stopped in the cafe, and spent a lot of time meandering through the small storefronts. Many of the storefronts are lines of storage shops with metal roll-up doors. These people weren’t pushy sellers. I don’t think they get tourists down their streets.

 

Back at the hospital, I was struck by a couple of really cute kids that came through the pediatric ward. Photo credit to Ryan Frederick for catching these moments.

 

Feeling Blessed in Jinotega, Nicaragua

We are being spoiled by our hosts here in this beautiful town. Last night we had dinner at a restaurant that overlooks the entire city. Even though it was raining, the view was amazing.

Yesterday we had a 15 year-old patient, Joselina, ask for help with her pituitary gland. She has had a large portion a tumor removed from her brain, but there are still remnants that cause significant hormonal and other problems. She is on medication that is beyond the family’s means to provide.

In my conversation with the doctor who brought Joselina to my attention, she told me that this sort of surgery is fairly easy for a endrocrinologist in the U.S. Joselina was very grateful that we would consider helping her to get the help her life depends upon.

I shot a picture of an old many who had lived with his affliction his whole life.  Many of those who are born this way will not be able to get jobs or compete for spouses. I don’t know his name or story, but I thought I’d share his picture with you.

Being in central America, Ryan and I are mostly disconnected from the rally for Chick-fil-A. I’d like to share my two cents. First, I don’t think Christians are called to attempt to argue from moral high-ground. The people Jesus most harshly criticized were those who claimed ethical superiority. The directive he demonstrated and expected was primarily a position of humility.

Secondly, I think we are here to love God first, then our neighbor AS ourself. This guy in the picture… he’s my neighbor. Do I care more about getting this guy a leg than I do about buying a tasty sandwich from the “right” restaurant? I know it is more complex than that, and it might sound like I’m making a moral platitude that contradicts my first point. This is merely my best attempt at living the one life I have been given in service to God and others. Generously. Compassionately. Humbly. For those that are happy living their faith through a fast-food restaurant, I do not begrudge them their choice, and I do not suppose to know the level of commitment they have to serve outside of the Chick-fil-A counteroffensive.

Philippians 2:3-11 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

-Shawn

Pediatric work in Jinotega

Whilst my buddy Ryan Frederick is rolling up his sleeves in the OR, I am spending most of my time in the pediatric triage tent. There are three to four nurses and doctors who work with kids of all ages to find out what ails them. We see everything from parasites to plugged ears.

Many family travel from far away. I can’t imagine traveling 10 hours on a bus one-way, not knowing anyone in the city, not having a way to pay for a hotel, all for a shot at seeing a doctor. Once a patient is being seen, they are given the full attention of the medical team.

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Our Rotarian friends fed us lunch today. IMAHelps would find it nearly impossible to do their work without the help of these wonderful people. Thank you Rotarians!

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