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Monday, January 25, 2010
Rev. Harrison's Third LWR Post -- "Thank You."
The team of LCMS docs just debriefed, packed themselves into two vans here in Jimani, Dominican Republic, and headed off on the six hour trip to the capital and back home. What an amazing group!
Not a half hour ago, we were all together on the back porch of the large home, which has been the erstwhile dorm for medical teams. The stories of who was with us, how they were assembled within hours, and then put on the ground is amazing. The docs and nurses where high-level professionals, university instructors, emergency room doctors, and nurses--experts in numerous disciplines. As we talked, they were thankful, traumatized, joyous, exhausted, and emotional. They expressed profound struggle in dealing with the carnage they had just walked into; and yet at the same time, profound faith in Jesus.
As the first tremor struck last night, and as the LCMS missionaries delivered trucks full of meals, I was asked to guard the load until the word was given to disperse the precious cargo. I leaned against the tailgate, and a tall, mustached gentleman with an easy southern accent struck up a conversation. He was in his scrubs watching the chaos of 1500 Haitians who not ten minutes earlier had scrambled for their lives out of the orphanage converted to a hospital. "Where ya from?", I asked. "Georgia." "Who ya with," I continued. "I'm with a group called the L.C.M.S. I never even knew they existed, had no idea what they did, but a friend of mine called and asked me to go. I've never been so impressed with a group of people in my life." "That¹s great to hear," I said. "I'm with the L.C.M.S. too."
One of the seasoned emergency room docs struggled to get hold of what she'd just seen. She wept as she recounted the story of stepping off the bus late at night this past Tuesday and jumping into the operating room. Her first patient was a young woman who lay bleeding to death on the floor. The team worked and tried everything, but life was quickly ebbing. The woman had lost her entire family. "What should I say to her?" the doc asked others in the room? "Tell her it's o.k. . . . to go be with her family." She did so.
"Pastor, I don¹t know how to cope with this," she told me. I helped her begin to process the matter in the context of the cross of Jesus. "Pastor, I'm going back home now. The people I work with will not understand this. Patients where I work complain about everything. I just treated a woman who had her arm guillotined with nothing but Tylenol as pain reliever, and she was smiling at me, thanking me. I couldn't believe it. These people have lost everything, and they are so thankful."
As I was writing this, a doctor just appeared behind the building where I am sitting, moaning in anguish and pain about what he'd just experienced. One of our pastors was with him. He's just come from Port au Prince, is exhausted, overwhelmed, hasn't slept in days. The volume of trauma is infinite. He feels great need to return.
In the midst of all this, the Haitians have shown amazing faith, regularly singing hymns to Jesus as they huddle with their lone surviving child or a new friend on the ground or in the next bed over.
O blessed Jesus, have mercy upon your people. Cause this affliction to cease. Comfort the dying, the sick, and the traumatized. Uphold the faith, hearts, and hands of all those many who are were unharmed but now are assisting the needy, and also those who have come as angels of mercy. Amen.
No mind can comprehend this. "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33).
We can only face tomorrow with the knowledge that the outpouring of love and blessing in the wake of this disaster is and will be one of the most phenomenal acts of mercy in our time together on this earth.
Pastor Matthew Harrison Executive Director, LCMS World Relief and Human Care Board Member, LWR