The homemade PVC-framed curtains are up. The pharmacy is readily staffed. We are flush with physical therapists wielding braces and canes. We have enough fluoride varnish for a small army. And now the community of Ekudzeni begins to arrive at the CarePoint. Months of preparation and two days of travel have culminated to this moment — the clinic at Ekudzeni Carepoint is about to open!
As medical professionals, we prepare to care for illness that we can identify and address.
Our Swazi K2 leadership have done an amazing job preparing us to “be,” don’t “do.” But it’s been difficult to ask my brain to switch tasks from providing medical care (which is the “do”) to seeing needs of these children and feeling completely helpless (which is the “be”).
As the first clinic day closed, I struggled with one of the classic questions of why. Why do these children have to suffer? Why don’t I need to suffer like they do? Why can’t I do more? This is not fair! Why can’t I do more?
I realized that some of these questions are almost impossible to answer. No amount of medicine will help the life challenges some of the Swazi children at Ekudzeni face. But the Lord has been my teacher this week as He reminds me that He’s in control. And more importantly that His treasure is not the masses, it’s the one.
As God’s intentional creation, I know each of these children is loved by our Father and Savior. I would have loved to have an hour with each community member and child. To ask things like “how are you really doing?” and “when can I see you again?” Sometimes yearning to put away the “do” of the clinic and just to “be” with them.
But the reality is that I carry the task of needing to be efficient so that I can be available to see everyone who shows up at the CarePoint today. Oh, yeah-also nobody told me that some of the children won’t be wearing shoes because they don’t have any. And if they are having abdominal pain, it’s possibly because they haven’t eaten since yesterday’s meal at the CarePoint.
Our clinic was open for three days at the Ekudzeni Carepoint and was amazingly successful. We next embarked on a new adventure following God’s lead to provide care for children and their caregivers at two sister CarePoints. A mobile medical clinic at the CarePoints was unprecedented until now and we were honored to pilot this new process. The Lord provided this opportunity, and as He promises, He also provided the means to carry out His work through our hands and feet. Thursday we visited Thulwane and our second and final mobile clinic was Friday at Lesibovu. The Lord certainly provided us with plenty of children to see in clinic this week. Sometimes twice as many as we had planned. But by the grace of Jesus we were given the time and resources to see every child who showed up at the CarePoints this week.
As I’ve now had time to process the five days of clinic, it has been fun to reflect on how much I have learned. Did we pack too much of some medication and too little of others? Absolutely. Did we ever think we would run out of toothbrushes when we were packing? No way (but we did).
The biggest thing I learned this week is that the children are priceless. And it’s not just “the children” as a way of addressing the whole group; it’s the one. I’m reminded of the story of the shepherd who chooses to leave the 99 sheep in his flock for the one that is lost. Each of these children have a story, and every one of them is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s eyes with a role in His Kingdom. When Jesus said “let the little ones come to me,” I picture him looking at each child, with that pure no-strings-attached love.
Exactly the same way my friend Sdumo looked at one of my little friends as she started to tear up after I saw her in the clinic. Sdumo is about 25 years old and he is a CarePoint Coordinator — responsible for overseeing the shepherds and children at four different CarePoints. That man loves all these children like Jesus! He quickly scooped up this little girl and comforted her. Later he told me that her parents died and she now lives in a home where she isn’t treated well. I think this is truly the first time I have actually seen Jesus’s love unfold right before me. Sdumo saw the importance of who she was and poured out his heart to her without any need for a prior relationship or promise of anything in return.
Jesus loves all the kids, but somehow can make each feel that they are the one. The most important treasure in the world. The one He would search high and low for when lost. The one who He has time for. The one who loved going through the clinic, getting weighed, a fluoride treatment and maybe leaving with a toothbrush. The one who walked in shy and quiet but left smiling and excited. The one who Jesus loves, protects, and for whom He provides. The one who is His greatest treasure.
On the first day of clinic, I had envisioned that we would see hundreds of people and help many because of the medical care we provided. I am thankful that the Great Teacher allowed me to suffer here, struggling to meet this goal. Fortunately, most of the children are well. But many seemed to have a longing to be seen. I most certainly will leave this beautiful country with a love for the Swazi people.
But I now see with eyes open, focused on searching for glimpses into His Kingdom. Eyes that look to love first and freely. Eyes that watched proudly as a group of K2er’s and Swazi loved each other. Eyes looking to He who is our Creator and Redeemer. Eyes trained to seek out, pursue, and connect with the one.
Learn about HopeChest’s work in Eswatini.