Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Gift

A newlywed couple, Dr. Mark and Mrs. Sheila Bisanzo from Massachusetts recently shared how they are experiencing Advent and preparing for Christmas in Uganda. Sheila commented “...we're grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the essence of Christmas and the renewal it brings without the overwhelming American distractions of buying and spending”.

I remember Christmas during our time in Thailand, now almost 30 years ago, with the same joy that Sheila recalls. There is something liberating about being removed from what we take for granted and have come to believe must be part and parcel of the 'traditional' holiday. Shopping, wrapping, planning, mailing, often accompanied by stress that can overtake the meaning of the Holy day. Removing all these made it easier to stay focused on what we are really celebrating - 'that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son...'

In the years since returning to Southern California, I can’t say I’ve always kept this perspective during Advent and Christmas, especially as my kids were growing up, wanting to create perfect memories for them. As I take a step back and look at all of the holiday that have come and gone, I know that Christ has been at the center, even if we were momentarily distracted. Taking the time to slow down and be grateful (even after staying up until 3 a.m. wrapping gifts and making cinnamon rolls...), we have been given the opportunity to express to each other the love that God has for each of us.

There is a special gift that those serving at Christmas receive, even if like Mark and Sheila it means working at the emergency room - a gift that will last a lifetime. Sheila shared 'When we think about the Holy Family and the image of the Nativity, a peaceful time of a family gathering is the gift they shared and which we still embrace today. ‘Where two or three are gathered together,’ that's the Christmas gift.”

May we all experience the presence of Christ, though all of the errands, shopping and wrapping, and may we always recognize the real Christmas gift!

Where Two or More are Gathered...

The Holidays often mean getting together with friends and families to share and celebrate.

We are working on plans, born of this same idea, getting people together to help spread the word about Mission Doctors. Generous veteran mission doctors and dedicated friends are hosting events in their area to share the stories and to celebrate the mission with friends and family, and plans are underway for more of these events after the first of the year.

I am just about to run out the door to pick up the invitations for a gathering in Long Beach next month. Dr. Brent Burket and Dr. Jennifer Thoene will be on hand to talk about their upcoming mission assignment to Guatemala, at the home of Dr. Laura King. As we make these plans and send out the invitations, I am reminded of Jesus’ promise that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Coming together to share in the story of doctors who serve those most in need, Jesus is certainly with us. The promise is that He will be with us as we gather, as we pray, and as we serve together.

The doctors who travel half a world away to provide life saving medical care for God's neediest, and those who gather to pray for them and offer support, are certainly not acting alone. May you too feel the presence of Christ on this Advent journey and as we celebrate His birth this Christmas.

Would you like to attend or host a gathering in your area to share information about Mission Doctors?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sharing their Story

I wanted to take a moment and share with you a couple of the blogs our Mission Doctors are writing to share their mission stories.

A Step Along the Way This blog, with it’s title is inspired by the prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero, is written by Dr. and Mrs. Richard Stoughton. The Stoughton’s have recently returned from an eight year mission in rural Zimbabwe, serving the people of St. Theresa's hospital. While their long term mission has ended their commitment to the people of St. Theresa’s hospital continues. In this season of thanks Dr. and Mrs. Richard Stoughton are sharing Eight Days of Gratitude, comparing the life lived in the US, life at St. Theresa’s Hospital and those living in the community around the hospital.

Burket-Thoene Family Mission The Burket-Thoene Family Mission is a new blog, started by Dr. Brent Burket and Dr. Jennifer Thoene. These veteran mission doctors will start a long term mission to Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala with their four children; Christopher, Elizabeth, Julianne and Nicholas. This doctor couple will be caring for the indigenous Mayan population, the Tz'utujil, working along side the people at a hospital called Hospitalito.

Please take a moment and check out their blogs, hear their stories and consider signing up as a “follower” to receive new blog posts.

Friday, December 4, 2009

We Wait Together

Advent is the time of waiting and preparing- but the word Advent is from the Latin word 'coming".

We are waiting, we are preparing for Christ’s coming – as the world waited more than 2000 years ago – but we know that in Advent our focus needs to be, not on the waiting but on who we are waiting for. We are waiting for Christ to come, waiting to celebrate once again the dawn of the new day when nothing would be the same.

Children may anticipate with joy the coming of Santa Clause.

Adults may prepare for families coming together at the holidays.

There are others in Guatemala that are also awaiting with joyful anticipation the coming of Dr. Brent Burket and Dr. Jennifer Thoene who will begin a three year assignment to Hospitalito in January.

In Uganda, the hospital awaits the coming of Dr. Ron and Mrs. Barbara Wick in January.

In Cameroon, Sr. Xaveria is awaiting the coming of Dr. James and Mrs. Terry Hake.

These doctors and others serve because Christ has already been born in their hearts and they can’t wait to share their skills and their faith with others.

Please keep all mission doctors and their families in your prayers this Holy Season.

We wait together. We know who we are waiting for, and we know that once again we can strive to be the one others are waiting for.