Saturday, April 30, 2016

Heidi's Heart-- Warning: RAW, emotional, and probably not well-suited for those just looking for a nice update on our week ;-)

So here's what's really on my heart right now-- and my biggest prayer request for the week-- Right now, Matt and I do not know what my employment will be after June 17th of this year.  We DO know that I will no longer be at GSK, and that I do NOT currently have anything else lined up.  Several applications out, lots of personal contacts made on my behalf, but not even a call for an interview. To make a long story short, though (NOT my forte!), we have really prayerfully considered and struggled through issues of trust vs stewardship of resources and thus continued spending vs saving, and have come to rest at this as our current plan:

I will not be traveling to Guatemala for any more quarterly trips until I have secured further employment.

Those who know me at all know that it breaks my heart to write that!  I think it's the first time I've actually verbalized it, even, "out loud".  Emotions are overwhelming as I face the very real prospect that maybe my continued presence here is not what God has planned for me right now.  My heart really wants to scream and cry out, "No!  That can't be true!  Can it?!?!"-- But the answer is, "Of course it can!"  We know that all things work together for our good-- and more importantly, to HIS glory.  But that doesn't mean all things work together to what we think is good for us at any given time (i.e., to give us the worldly desires of our sinful hearts instantaneously).

So there's that.  I need to also make it clear that I believe with all of my heart that God is getting ready to do something amazing that will bring glory to Him in both Cary and Guatemala-- and I yearn to be a part of it by continuing in the way that I have been!  But I am trying very hard to accept that His ways are not my ways (thankfully!), and that He ultimately has a much better plan than anything we could even dream or imagine~

So Matt and I are praying for wisdom, peace, and-- obviously-- provision.  We are asking specifically and boldly for a job with IBM Watson Health, which at least on paper sounds like a dream job for me at this point.  So far all of the advice I've gotten has pretty much told me I don't have much of a chance at all at it-- which, I figure, is the kind of space where God has plenty of room to work ;-)

We are excited to see what the future will hold.  But we are also quite frightened and getting further and further outside of our comfort zone by the (seemingly daily) unexpected expenses piling up as contracted work comes quickly to a close.  There is a real struggle we are facing (and I'm pretty sure The Enemy is loving it!) as we see God calling us away from an idol of self-reliance and more fully in to reliance on Him and a fuller understanding of the nothingness there is without Him.

But then The Devil's in the details-- isn't he always?  He just loves a nice Type A that he can continue to taunt and pester with those details and facts and figures to doubt and debate!  We find ourselves struggling fiercely with the issues of "where to draw the line" between trusting in His provision (and thus, say, continuing to spend on the mission field at the same levels as always...) versus being good stewards of what He has generously given us (and thus, say, going in to as much of a spending freeze as possible until a new income is secured)?  For years, we have felt strongly called to earn a substantial salary that we could use a good chunk of for missions.  Most of you know how very strongly we feel about avoiding consumer debt in order to maintain financial freedom for giving as well as freedom for following where God sends us and being able to help with needs that may come up.  Several long-term missionaries have become like family to us-- and we are acutely aware that they don't have retirement savings or health insurance or other things that sometimes come in handy if a body ever decides to break down at all.

Are we wrong about our calling?  Has it changed?  Is it just that (and if I'm honest, this is my greatest fear), this is all a big lie I've been telling myself and hiding behind to justify my really, really comfortable life?  How do we know when letting go is letting God, versus just being really financially irresponsible?  I can easily go without cable TV, eating out, my truly preferred-but-obnoxiously-expensive toilet paper brand, new clothes, a MacBook, etc.

But when we start talking about digging in to savings accounts-- and especially "long-term" savings accounts, we both get pretty uptight.  We are truly blessed to be "on the same page" with money issues in our marriage, and Matt has proven time and time again to be a very trustworthy leader of our family in this area.  How he has managed to hide so much money from me and keep me from spending it at the dollar store is truly impressive, y'all ;-)  But what we have in long-term savings is supposed to be just that-- SAVED.  Right?  But is this the rainy day we've been saving for, or just a little blip on the radar?  Is there a worse time to come, or will a job offer come through tomorrow?

Anyway, this was way too long about ten paragraphs ago, but to give you a quick idea of the questions we struggle with, here are some examples:

  • If unemployed, should we take an expensive family vacation?  (duh-- obviously no)
  • But what if there's one planned with the in-laws and cousins that will be relatively inexpensive and priceless in terms of family time, and definitely do-able schedule wise since you're not working?  (hmmm... that gets a little stickier quickly, right?!)
  • If unemployed, should you buy a new computer?  (seems easy enough, right? of course not!)
  • But wait-- when your contract at GSK ends, you won't actually have a computer anymore since you've been using theirs!  Don't you need a laptop to work on publishing a paper still and job searching in the meantime?  Should you buy a cheap $200 laptop to get you by until you can get something better later, or go ahead and buy a quality machine that will last a while?  And so on and so forth...
And ultimately, of course, if unemployed, do you continue to go on quarterly trips to Guatemala at well over $1,000 per trip?  That's the one that's the weightiest, of course, and I guess you could say we've kind of thrown out our fleece at this point...

So please pray FIRST for His will to be done, but we are boldly and specifically asking for the desires of OUR hearts as follows:
  1. A job for me (IBM Watson Health current first choice, but obviously a place that supports continued time in Guatemala high on priority list, as well as a place that seems sustainable long-term)
  2. Clear plans for my continued work here in Chichicastenango and/or Canilla-- for the foreseeable future!~
Join us in those prayers, please?  Thanks for listening~

Meet (2 of 4 of) the Team!

Well, the first post of the week is always entitled, "Meet the Team", but had to be edited slightly this time since only half the team is here so far-- :-(  Dr. Sylvia Botros, who some of you may remember from a May trip two years ago (urogynecologist extraordinaire from Chicago who taught me more in a week than I learned in four years of residency about urogyn?!) and the fellow (urogynecologist-in-training, post-residency) that she is traveling with got delayed until tomorrow! Boo-hiss, but not the end of the world.  With any luck, they'll be arriving in clinic just about the time Steph and I are exhausted and needing a little injection of new (albeit quite travel-weary) energy in the afternoon's flow of patients... That's usually about how it works!

Speaking of Steph, she's new to all of us-- Dr. Stephanie Marr is now the third resident I've had the privilege of hosting/precepting from the SEAHEC residency program in Wilmington, NC.  Total kudos and thanks to Todd Beste, their program director, and Skip Johnstone, who was with us on the last trip, for their continued support of this experience for their residents!  This is her first missions trip, and her first time outside the tourist areas of a developing country-- it's fun to see her enthusiasm for learning and taking in what she can about the culture and history and richness of differences.  All the pictures are hers, of course; I'm so used to all of this by now that it wouldn't dawn on me to photograph any of it.  That's why it's always so fun to see things newly through different eyes every. single. trip.  God never ceases to amaze me that way with His plans.

Tomorrow will be a long day for all of us, but I have a hard time even imagining how long it will feel for Sylvia and the other young doctor she is travelling with (I know, I really don't know her name yet!  Bad! Bad host!!!) -- their international flight out of Chicago is at 5am, with one connection, then a 3-ish hour drive once in Guatemala up to the hospital where we will be trying to put them straight to work in clinic... Can't wait to capitalize on their expertise, but seriously y'all-- PLEASE be praying for extra strength for them tomorrow?!

Also, I'll go ahead and throw out my biggest prayer request for the week right out in front-- Right now, Matt and I do not know what my employment will be after June 17th of this year.  We DO know that I will no longer be at GSK, and that I do NOT currently have anything else lined up.  Several applications out, lots of personal contacts made on my behalf, but not even a call for an interview.  Those of you who are long-time readers, close friends, or partners with us in the Gospel, please read tonight's second post as well-- "Heidi's Heart", but those just looking for an update and to keep it relatively light, DO feel free to skip it!  It's quite heavy and personal...

I'll try to grab some pictures off of Steph's phone to post tomorrow, and get one of the team if I remember.  Dr. Tom Hoak, the North American general surgeon who was down here long-term with his family from 2005 to around 2013 and is now about 6 weeks here and 6 back in the US, just popped his head in to let us know we are fixing a two year-old with an inguinal hernia in the morning-- hopefully early enough to not make us too late starting clinic, but doubtful ;-)

So yep-- pray for that kid and his family, too!  Hard to imagine taking one of my kids in for surgery, so that's just another item on my very long list of things to be truly grateful for this evening!