For we who are in this tent groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven. – 2 Cor 5:4
I advised the medical student as he removed pieces of old gauze from within the patient’s wound. Our patient, I’ll call him George, had dropped by Cornerstone Community Health Free Clinic after the church service and food pantry outreach at 3rd Street in San Bernardino. He had been to the local emergency room the weekend before to have his wound opened and drained. He didn’t return when the doctor instructed the next day, which became a problem because so much gauze had been left inside his wound. What aided healing on the first few days had become a big infection risk by the fourth and fifth days. So we cleaned out his wound and left it so it could easily heal in a way that better fit his lifestyle. He said his son could check the wound from time to time and that he would return to the doctor if he felt pain or drainage. As he left, we affirmed George’s excellent care of his high blood pressure, encouraged him to eat plenty of vegetables and drink lots of water, answered his health concerns of a more personal nature, and prayed for God to bless him as he went on his way, bag of groceries in hand.
After 2 ½ years, it was surreal to just jump back in, seeing patients at the Free Clinic Greg and I incorporated half a decade ago. We celebrate along with our physical therapy colleagues when wheelchair-confined patients start to walk again, and we sign in relief that patients without insurance can access health resources reliably. We praise God that He raised up leaders to take over the administrative aspects and the medical leadership, but we see the strain of hours and the stress of adding on this work on top of already full schedules. Even from the start, we knew we would leave San Bernardino and start serving as missionaries in other countries. But there is still such a sense of comfort being home, being back among the people who share our heart and our ministries back home. Oh, if only we could be in both places, if only we could help alleviate our friends burdens that they have shouldered ever since we left. We’ll do what we can to encourage and equip them while we are back. And we’ll pray that God will raise up new leaders to help carry on the work. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.”