Thursday, July 19, 2007

Coming for the Sick

“One, Two, Three, Four, Five!…” The children in the next classroom of Higaon-on elementary are screaming out numbers as their teacher leads them in their math lesson. As the children continue, Dr. Mike & his wife Tammy are in the next room looking at patient after patient, determining what is ailing each one and prescribing medicine to help their needs.

As I sit in the corner of the steamy Filipino classroom, I watch as family after family make their way to the hut in the school yard to sign a card so that they can see this American doctor and his team. As they wait their turn, the Gospel story is shown to them through a picture book because of the high illiteracy rate of the adults. The line gets longer and longer as the patients wait their turn outside the room. A majority of them pass the time by looking through the windows so they can see these Americans who have come help them.

When their turn arrives, they make their way to the small wooden chairs, most of them carrying babies, and tell the doctor and his interpreter of their sicknesses. I was surprised to see that a majority of the medicine on the table was simple, over the counter drugs that most of us have in our homes. Most of these people have never taken a Tylenol or vitamin in their entire lives, and today their needs are being met. Dr. Mike diagnoses each person and Mrs. Tammy sorts out the medicine from her tabletop pharmacy. Each patient is also given toothpaste and a toothbrush. This cycle continued for a few hours until it was time for a lunch break. As the ham sandwiches and chips were finished, I sat down with the Storys to find out more about them.

Dr. Mike has been in pediatrics since 1990 and he and his family reside in northeastern Alabama. When I asked how he got involved in these short-term medical missions he replied, “One of my former nurses was Jess's sister-in-law. That’s how I met and got to know Jess and through a relationship with him I felt the desire to come and work on these missions.”

This is his fifth trip to the Philippines and his wife’s third visit. “From all the clinics that you’ve participated in here, what have you gotten out of them?” I asked.

It's expanded my worldview of the church, from being something local to being something more universal. That the kingdom of God isn’t limited to just the local church.” Mrs. Tammy replied, “Coming here and seeing all these children, how they don’t have to have all the things children do back home and they’re so happy. They get to learn about God through His creation and in ways that we don’t take time to notice. Its taught me to be more patient with my children and encourage them to come out and be missionaries. I want their eyes to be opened and to share Christ all over the world."

The time and effort put forth into these trips are rewarding. Dr. Mike recalls one experience from the trip they made last year. “In the last village that we visited, there was a small baby, very sick, that we were able to take care of and take to the hospital. If we wouldn’t have been there that day the baby probably wouldn’t have lived. This year we got a report that the baby is a year older and doing fine.”

The Story’s brought along Debra, their 14 year old daughter, and Kathryn, who is a member of their church's youth group. The two girls have been working with the medical team as they travel from village to village. “The truck rides up the mountain are always fun,” they said. “Sometimes there are motorcycles that break down on the side of the road and the guys get out to help and slide down in the mud. It’s really funny! There’s never a dull moment. These medical trips are a good way to start out on missions.”

Please pray that more people would answer the call to come and do God’s work here in the Philippines! And ask yourself what are you doing to further the Kingdom of God.


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