October 2015 – Update: Compassion

Nick's PT students presenting during a clinical rotation

Nick’s PT students presenting during a clinical rotation

Greetings to you this fall! This week we found a real pumpkin at the store (!), so are feeling a bit of U.S. culture in what is otherwise a holiday-sparse Halloween and Thanksgiving season in the DR. We hope this finds you well, thanks-giving and costuming here shortly.

Prayers for discernment
Ministry life continues to evolve uniquely each season. We frequently make choices about whether to engage in new partnerships, committees, projects or teaching. This week it was choosing to respond to requests for money for a wedding, oil for a meal, string to fix something, and petitions on 4 different days from a man whose fruit stand we frequent, whose business is failing with rising food prices. Please pray that our ministry discernment would always stem from compassionate wisdom.

Compassion: Lesson, prayer and practice
In “The Way of the Heart,” Henri Nouwen calls us to compassion with the following story from ancient church history, from monks called the “desert fathers” who lived in solitude. Nouwen writes, “Much of our ministry is limited by the snares of our own judgments. We classify people as very good, good, neutral, bad, and very bad… Those whom we consider lazy, indifferent, hostile or obnoxious we treat as such… These self-created limits prevent us from being available to people and shrivel up our compassion. ‘Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves’ is a word from Jesus that is indeed very hard to live up to. But it contains the secret of compassionate ministry.”

“A brother… committed a fault. A council was called to which Abba Moses was invited, but he refused to go to it. Then the priest sent someone to say to him, ‘Come, for everyone is waiting for you.’ So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water, and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, ‘What is this, Father?’ The old man said to them, ‘My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the error of another.’ When they heard that they said no more to the brother but forgave him.”20150827_080954

We continue to discern how to engage well with our young friends Simon and David, who are still not attending school. After several weeks of rejoicing with us that they were in school, we learned that they indeed had still been refused admittance for lack of documents. Perhaps the boys made up this story because they felt bad they had nothing better to report. Their dad confirmed both financial and legal challenges, in part complicated by their late-mom’s Haitian background.

Human lives are complicated, and we trust God to infuse us with compassion to direct our time and energies well. Aside from these service perspectives, we recognize that sometimes being kind can be easier to strangers than to the people in our own homes. In this too, we pray for daily graces for us all!

Physical therapy education
Nick is heavily involved in teaching students this semester (his students presenting, above). Many excellent chances to guide important content in clinical education have popped up, making this term fuller than anticipated. Pray for energy for Nick to take advantage of key health development moments and make it till Christmas!

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Family Life
Nick turned 34 October 20teditedh! Daniel continues to grow his dancing and speaking skills, and is learning to assert himself effectively at 18mos. We are amazed at our ever intensifying love for him! Sadly, we also must report the death of René Acosta, our supervisor and national ministry director, as well as the passing of Antonio, who was Nick’s campo dad back in 2004 during his first DR trip. Here we climb to visit Antonio and his grand kids, past the roads where our car can chug. Thank you for being with us in spirit, financial support and prayer, in all of these DR life events!

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