July 9th was shaping up to be a busy day at Hospital Misión Tarahumara. Willy and a visiting surgical team had spent hours removing a basketball-sized tumor from the leg of a Tarahumara woman. Meanwhile, I (Jessee) and my parents took Lucy and Caroline to check out a site for a new village clinic building.
As evening drew near, we ate a quick dinner while putting the final touches on a cardiac ultrasound presentation scheduled for the doctors that night. Then Willy’s phone rang: four Tarahumara men had been hit by lightning in a corn field. One man was dead at the scene, and we had limited information about the other three.
At 5:30 pm, a rusty pickup arrived with the victims. Sadly, one young man was unconscious and severely burned, with a lightning entrance point through a large metal belt buckle at his waist. As Willy proceeded to cut off the man’s clothing to evaluate the burns- he noticed it was the same “Caballo Blanco” marathon t-shirt he owned. This man had likely ran alongside Willy in March in an effort to buy corn to feed his family.
Over the past 2 years, Willy and I have invested in preparing the hospital staff to manage all kinds of emergencies- whether gun shot wounds or seizing children. We had never dealt with a lightning strike before. But on this evening, Willy inwardly rejoiced as he saw the nursing staff quickly triage the other two victims, place IV’s and obtain 12-lead EKG’s. He and the Mexican doctor on-call intubated the patient and prepared him for transport to the city hospital.
When we first arrived to the mission field, our response to this type of emergency might have looked very different. We may have tried to jump in, give orders and attempt to “fix” the situation. Medical missionaries are generally good at problem solving, but we often make the mistake of trying to squeeze the mission hospital culture into an American mold. In our zeal to “fix” things and people, we fail to realize that most people don’t want to be fixed. We have learned that what people want is a friend to walk alongside them, understand their pain, and be present in the midst of victories and struggles. Jesus, rather than just fixing our problems, came to this earth to walk with us and bring a message of grace and redemption.
We work with a great team of national health care professionals at Hospital Misión Tarahumara who are also committed to reaching the Tarahumara with the love of Christ. Our family’s mission in Mexico is to serve as a “scaffolding” to support the growth of the hospital and expansion of the local indigenous church.
This year, we’ve been invited to facilitate an educational program for doctors at the mission hospital. Our desire is help mobilize leaders in the medical field from Mexico, for Mexico. We pray that these individuals will continue to impact their country long after we’re gone and will serve as mentors for the next generation.
Like lightning, crisis can strike when we least expect it. A few strategies that keep us “grounded” during moments of difficulty are:
– Recharging through time alone with God and His Word. Whether the “crisis” comes in the form of a minor power outage or an unexpected trauma case from cartel violence, we can rest in the knowledge that nothing we experience escapes God’s love and protection.
– Keeping a healthy family life. On our days off work, we enjoy hiking and “camping” in the canyon with Lucy (age 2) and Caroline (now 6 months.)
– Staying connected with friends in the United States and teammates here in Mexico who pray with us and encourage us.
As we follow the news unfolding in the U.S. and abroad, our hearts go out to those of you who may be hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are praying for each of you and take heart in God’s promise found in Psalm 32:7-8:
Pray with Us!
Thank you for your prayers, messages of encouragement and giving that allows our family to serve in Mexico!
– For guidance as we consider the construction of a new village clinic that would provide medical care for hundreds of Tarahumara believers who gather to worship together each month.
– For the distribution of 600 MP3 players with the recorded Bible in Tarahumara that are being shared with families in remote villages. Pray that their hearts would be touched as they listen to the songs and Scriptures, many for the first time in their lives.
– For a smooth transition for five new missionaries who have joined our hospital community in the past month. Pray for grace as they study Spanish and begin work in the hospital and villages.
Let us know how we can be praying for you and your family!
Willy, Jessee, Lucy & Caroline