Balance. Oxford dictionary’s top two definitions for balance are 1) an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady, and 2) a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
When I was little I did gymnastics and I remember practicing walking on the balance beam. It took a lot of focus and determination to walk across without falling off. As adults we often talk about “work/life balance.” But what does that look like when your work and life are so closely intertwined? Finding that balance is something I have struggled with since moving here, but especially in the past few weeks. We just finished 6 straight weeks of teams and after this week that we currently have off, we will have another 5 weeks of teams.
When I am working with the medical teams it is easy for me to be focused on that, but I often have to remind myself that sitting and having a conversation with a group member after dinner is often more important than responding to a non-urgent email. Finding the balance between being present with teams that are serving with us, preparing for upcoming teams, and also finding time to simply rest is a pretty constant struggle for me. There have been several times in the past two months where I’ve woken up in the middle of the night, stressing about public health approvals, making sure we have surgical patients for upcoming teams….the to-do list never ends. Those middle of the night panicky wake-ups really demonstrated to me that I was lacking balance.
In nursing school I remember my teachers telling us over and over again “If you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t take care of others!” I know this to be true but I always seem to remember this rule when I’m running on empty; you can’t give 110% all of the time and expect to keep up that pace. I recently finished John Mark Comer’s book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” which talks about the importance of slowing down and truly taking a Sabbath. This book was extremely convicting for me. I have been going non-stop, all with good intentions, but that ends up meaning that I wind up with very little time to rest and spend time with the Lord. The past few weeks I have been very intentional about taking time where I do no work, simply rest. That time has looked a little different each week but I can already tell the difference it has made in my mental, physical, and spiritual health. So just like little Sarah walking across the balance beam, I need to remain focused and determined to keep a healthy balance in my life.
So now a few highlights from the month so far! February started off with a medical and construction team from Northwoods Church (Peoria, IL) and Pine Hills Church (Fort Wayne, IN). This is the short term mission team that I came with in the past…it was so good to see my people! One day we had a barrio site in La Florida which is also where the construction crew from Northwoods was helping build a house. To get to the barrio site we had to load up in trucks and it was quite an adventure. After the clinic day started Jeff, Kamanda, Tyler, and I went to visit the construction team, dropping patients off at home along the way, and on the way back we picked up patients that were walking to the clinic. We ended up with a very full truck!
The following week we had a team from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Their team was surgical (general and orthopedic), barrio, and construction. The majority of the general surgery cases ended up being a lot of “lumps and bumps” as we say and the surgeon was kind enough to take the time to teach me how to do these procedures, as they are within my scope of practice as a FNP. He even let me first assist on both of his hernia cases. I always want to learn and am so grateful when people take the time to teach me new skills.
Last week we had two separate teams here, both from North Carolina. One team did barrio clinics while the other did surgery (ENT). We consulted at least 100 patients and the team completed 74 surgeries…talk about teamwork and efficiency! Many of the members of the barrio team come twice a year so it was so good to spend some time with friends who have now become part of my Solid Rock family.
I am thankful for this week off, to rest, regroup, catchup on paperwork, and prepare for our upcoming teams. My friend, Kailey, is the medical coordinator for another organization working in the area and yesterday I was finally able to go see where she works. They are building a clinic on top of a mountain in Elias Piña, about 10 minutes from the Haitian border. The view from the clinic is stunning and it was really special to get a peak into Kailey’s life.
The next few weeks are busy with more medical, surgical, and construction teams followed by the new clinic dedication. This is a very busy season but I could not be more thankful to be a part of this ministry!
- Health (there has been a lot of sickness within our staff over the past few weeks)
- Balance and rest