Love in the moment!

Travel and being with people with a common mission really sets you up nicely to contemplate the “things” of life. As a natural introvert, I tend to go that direction anyways, but here are some thoughts about what is happening right now. The team has made it to Manila and we are just waiting for our last flight to Bacolod! So joyful to be together in service…

December 3, day of embarkation. News of the recent shooting in San Bernadino, ISIS, Obama and climate change, Paris, Pope Francis in Africa, Advent and preparation, repenting of our sins, and Christmas approaching.

Advent began two days ago. It is a time of preparation, and reminds us that we are always to be prepared. Not for a journey like the one we are on now, or for some singular experience that will be “one and done.” But more of a preparedness to live and love daily to serve Christ. And more to not just live in the moment, but to love in the moment. We know not the hour nor the day, nor would I want to know! There is something freeing in knowing that Christ has a plan for me, and you and all of us. And that His power and might is bigger than ISIS, and typhoons, and drought and hunger, and corruption and injustice and climate change, and illness and death and sin.

Christ is healer, the great physician, the nutrition, the water of life, the justice, the peace that we seek here on Earth. Why would I or we look for answers elsewhere? In order for Christ and Peace to be with us, me and you and all of us have to open our hearts and lives and let Him take over, to use us for His purpose and to help each other in this. At one point in time, a reallllly long time ago Christ had hands and feet here on earth. And we drove nails into them. Really big and likely rusty ones. And we made them bleed. And we didn’t use any anesthesia and we made Him suffer. But this physical suffering is no match for the suffering He endured to save us from our sins. No match for the sorrow He feels when any one of us goes astray. And along with those nails, He nailed our sins and sorrows and fears to the cross, to be done with them. And by His dying, we now have life. God is good. He no longer just has one pair of hands and one pair of feet, He has legions, and we must live according to His instructions and do His great work with great love.

Advent reminds me to not wait to love my neighbor. Not to wait for Sunday for the homeless man on the street. Not wait until it is more convenient, or when I am less stressed. And not to wait because I know that I need Christ’s love just as much as anyone else I meet on the street, at work, at home…..Love em RIGHT NOW. You may not have a second chance.

Sometimes when I hear “live in the moment” I think of the hedonistic self-serving lifestyle that tells us to live for ourselves, with as much pleasure and joy in this life, at whatever the cost. The reality is that there is no greater pleasure and joy than that of our friendship with Jesus Christ. No earthly treasure, or experience or relationship could come close. He is our friend and our Dad. So “live in the moment” isn’t meaning living in the moment for ourselves but live in the moment for the Kingdom and for our relationship with Christ. Seize the day, and night, and morning and every day that we are blessed to wake up. Don’t wait to love. Live in the moment and love in the moment. There is no timeline for Christ and our relationship with Him. It is long term and everlasting. What joy and security we can have in this! I want to make every sweet second count.That’s what this mission trip is all about. 🙂 Thank you for being with us.

Mission 2015!

Hi y’all!

Can’t believe we are a mere 4 weeks away from our next mission trip to the Philippines. Much has happened since my last post.

  1. Medical Licenses: for the first time in almost a decade we have been asked to obtain a temporary medical license for our mission trip. All in all a good thing that the community is asking for a vetting process, though challenging since it is not electronic. Pray for us on this one. We would love to see a smoother process around this moving forward.
  2. Bovie machines! We received a generous donation from Methodist University Hospital in Memphis which included three very important bovie machines! This is typically a limited resource that we have had to share between surgical teams. Now we have enough for each team! AMEN!
  3. New mission family! I am SO excited that three people dear to me are coming with us on this next mission! One is my former medical student, Taylor Walsh, who worked with me when I was in practice in Southwest Virginia. The other is my partner, John Nelson of Resurrection Health, who is an incredible human and grounded surgeon. Can’t wait to get to know them in a different light! Lastly, one of our star nurses from the Church Health Center, Amber-Rose King, is also joining us and I know will be an incredible asset to the team!! (One of the secrets of mission work is that once you do mission work together, you share a special bond. Like band camp but not….more like servethepoorcamp which is much more wonderful)
  4. New site: for those of you who participated in the Gofundme campaign, you already know that due to licensing delays and logistics, we had to divert our mission from Iligan to Victorias City in Negros Occidental! This is a community we have served in the past, grounded in sugar cane agriculture and with a beautiful sense of community. We hope to maintain a long-term relationship with Victorias and are so excited about serving there again this year!
  5. Lastly, not to be too vague, but we are looking at new potential partnerships, some involving heath care institutions, other with educational institutions. Primarily looking at strategy in long-term sustainable work, and of course wanting to create a stable home and destination for the mission. LOTS of prayers on this please. 🙂

American College of Surgeons, and Friends, and Supporters…and Friends

Forgot to hit publish on this one!!!!: From Last month!

What a conference!!! Just leaving the American College of Surgeons (early, yes, but one can only take in so much) and it is SO exciting to feel and hear the energy of fellow surgeons and their volunteerism! Having an entire tract of the ACS be on international and humanitarian work?!

I am happy to share that much conversation was around the Lancet paper that came out earlier this year. Quite right, the College (which is like a giant “surgery club” for all of the American surgeons to come together to share, learn and network, but is of course open and inclusive of surgeons from around the world) recognizes that many of us in the College already do this work regularly, or intermittently, depending on your involvement. So, we came together to have conversation!!!!! And share experiences, and hear stories. To be frank, we needed more time. To be honest, I was supposed to have time, but we ran out of time. Nevertheless, I met some wonderful people and potential future partners! Either in work, in faith, in mission or all of the above!

I also met our good friends at Scanlan International! These are the kind folks whose beautiful instruments help us do the work well. Their products are instrumental (!) in our thyroidectomies, cleft lip and palate repairs and other facial and plastics procedures. It was like seeing family, as they are used to receiving my reports and emails….and hopefully are reading this blog!!!! I am still learning and remembering to hashtag!!!!

Of course, no visit to the American College would be complete without meeting at least one hero!!!! In this case, it was this guy: Paul Farmer.

natalie best, me, paul farmer!!! bliss!
natalie best, me, paul farmer!!! bliss!

So where does this leave us? We are still learners, trying our best to find ways to serve, looking for new friends to help us help others and finding kindred spirits. All in all, a great energizer and grounding experience for our upcoming mission!

Go time!

Friends and family!

Mission 2015 is in full effect! All of our medicine orders have been placed and we are in the heat of shipping preparations. Thanks to the support from our crowd funding campaign, we are able to fill in the financial gaps of our recipient town! We otherwise would have had to limit the usual bulk of supplies for the receiving town.

Yesterday we held the first of several packing parties for our upcoming trip. The theme of the day was clinic meds! We are able to purchase large quantities of mission medicines via MAP International and in doing this, provide more than $10,000 worth of medication for the community at a mere fraction. We serve on average between 2000-3000 people in clinic over the course of the week. Any medications left over are endorsed to the local public health authority that we partner with.

Here we are, packing hypertension and diabetes medications!!!

Medicine Packing Party #1!
Medicine Packing Party #1!

In case you didn’t notice, this was our first ever crowd funding campaign, so thank you for everyone’s patience as I learned how to fix our broken links, write thank you’s and post blasts on social media. 🙂 We hope not to have to do this very often, but it is nice to have the option!

many thanks to friends near and far for this success! people from all parts of our lives (india, APQC conference, prior missions, Med School, work, and family!!!!) have contributed! What community!!!!
Many thanks to friends near and far for this success! people from all parts of our lives (india, APQC conference, prior missions, medical school, residency, work, and family!!!!) have contributed! What community!!!!

Lastly, we have received some generous donations of surgical and medical supplies from my alma mater hospital, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital! They sent us these two lovely boxes of surgical supplies that will most definitely come in handy! We frequently come across children with neurological problems requiring neurosurgery. We now have the capability to be prepared for this particular need, thanks to my friends in Santa Barbara! Humbled by their generosity.

IMG_0252Thanks so much for reading and please keep the prayers and good vibes going! Our mission work is ongoing, both at home and abroad! We invite you to join us! Until next time…