THE CALM AFTER THE STORM…CELEBRATING WITH A STROLL TO THE BEACH!
We are elated to share the news about how everything went yesterday with the visit by the Health Department!
You know, God always answers our prayers! Sometimes he says, “No”. Sometimes he says “Wait”. Sometimes he says “Yes!” And then sometimes he says “Yes, and here’s a little something extra!!”
Yesterday was a big “Yes and here’s something extra!!” kind of day!
Two days ago we posted a special request for prayer! We said, “…wouldn’t it be awesome if there were no corrections or changes to make and we could get fast-tracked to our final approval?!! PRAY CHURCH!!!!!!!” – Well, you must have been praying because that is basically just what happened!!
A group of 8 representatives from the Health Department arrived to Bocachica yesterday around 9am. Some of our staff met them at the dock and made the trek back through the community towards the clinic. As they walked, they took in the sights, sounds and smells of daily life in Bocachica. They kept wondering and asking, “So, where is this place?” until they finally rounded the corner, saw the white building on the hill, and were met by our team and a welcome with fresh fruit and cold drinks.
Right away there was a very pleasant atmosphere and rapport felt between our staff and the inspectors. They were interested and intrigued to hear the story of the ministry and the 15 year journey required to bring us to this moment. (Yes, you read that correctly! We bought the land in 2001 and have been working, planning and dreaming ever since!) They were taken aback by the story of all the years of struggle, set-backs, and hard work; all the money donated, all the volunteers who labored, all the prayers prayed, and all the years of perseverance invested. Later in the day they shared that in all their years of experience in this job, they had never seen a case like ours where such effort and care were given and such an investment of resources was made NOT FOR PROFIT, but TO BLESS!
As the day continued, each aspect of the clinic was inspected. They reviewed our facilities, our manuals, our contracts, and our procedures; they questioned and interviewed our staff about everything from the process of construction to the plans for patient care. Something that our staff especially appreciated was the fact that they came not with a spirit of judging and pointing out our flaws but with the spirit of helping, guiding, and advising us. It was evident that they wanted to help us succeed, not prevent us from doing so!
As they went along they made suggestions about things that would be helpful and beneficial to us and to our patients. Most of their recommendations were about things that we already realized we needed to do and had planned to do at some point. For example, we still need to finish the construction of the handrails that go around the front of the building; we need to put some type of awning or trellis over the entry patio to provide shade; we need a sink here and a door there, etc…
After the inspection was over everyone made their way back to the mission for lunch. The group of inspectors met by themselves for a while as they discussed and sorted through their recommendations. Then they called our team over to give them their official report. Since we knew that this was a preliminary visit, we expected to be given a time-frame to make the needed corrections before the final inspection. But, to our surprise and delight, we were met with the news that they had decided and declared that we were ready and prepared to open our doors for service! They approved our facilities and commended us for our motivations and intentions. We passed the inspection and were fast-tracked to legalization!! Over the next two days we will make a couple of visits to the Health Department to sign paperwork and pick up our registration documents and as of tomorrow, May 26, 2016, we are legally registered and approved by the Colombian government!! We are planning to officially open our doors for service on June 6th! (Update: It actually took longer than we expected to finish up the last preparations. We officially opened on July 20, 2016.)
We can’t even begin to express in words the flood of joy, relief, and gratefulness we are experiencing right now!! We were all brought to tears just taking in the wonder of this moment! There were so many times in this journey that we felt overwhelmed, exhausted, and discouraged but by the very grace of God we had the humbling privilege of experiencing this moment of victory and fulfillment yesterday. We give all the glory and thanks to God because without Him it would have been impossible for us to make it through!
Now we will face a new and different set of challenges such as keeping the clinic staffed and financed and walking out our long-time vision to bless the community with access to quality health-care in an atmosphere of care and dignity and to be instruments of God’s love. We trust that the Lord will guide, teach, correct, and help us every step of the way.
There will be a follow-up inspection in a few months, after the clinic is in operation. The next time it will be a different group of inspectors and they will be evaluating how well we are able to put all of the “theory” of our operation and procedures manuals into action. They will evaluate for example, how well we follow through on the policies we have established regarding the cleanup, decontamination and disposal of a body fluid spill; how we handle life and death situations; or how we follow the guidelines for lab collection services. It will be a new season of learning, growing and persevering.
God has been speaking to us lately about the principles of planting and harvesting. We have experienced the pain of seeing dreams die and then the joy of seeing God revive and renew them (John 12:24). We have experienced first hand the truth behind Psalms 125:5: “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” And we have witnessed and lived 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 which says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” We know the road ahead will require more planting and watering and weeding! But we also know from the experience of the last decade and a half that God, in His own time, in His own way, and for His own purposes, will produce the fruit and give the growth… in our individual lives, and in the work we do.
We have learned that God doesn’t NEED us. He GIVES us the amazing and awesome PRIVILEGE of learning to listen, discern and obey His voice and in the process we experience the JOY of being used by Him, in spite of our flaws, weaknesses and failures.