Just Me Going to Nepal

The plan is to travel to Nepal on Thursday May 21st. The tickets need to be booked today. I go with great trepidation – as I always do. I also go with conviction to help hurting people, as I always do.

I can’t not go. 

I am told we will be airlifted by helicopter to the hospital that is treating the most recent earthquake victims. Wow. That’s a new one for me!

We almost experienced a helicopter with Samaritan’s Purse in Haiti in 2010, but then they decided not send Dave and I during the restlessness of the elections. We were compelled to go, so he and I went on our own, aiding and training over 250 pastors and leaders, and the “international arm” of Compassionate Reach was born. (Actually Hesed Hope at that time.)

We may be “trekking in” to remote areas as well. At 56 and out of shape, that is REALLY intimidating! Bring snacks in case we don’t have food for a day or so. Hmm, I have my emergency supplies.

We haven’t had the finances for David  to travel with me since then. I miss my partner. He brings a sense of safety when there is none. He calms me when I am worried. He is my support as I support others.

People love to say God doesn’t “call the equipped, he equips the called,” but I am not so sure I agree with that. If I wasn’t equipped both with some limited medical/ childbirth training, and especially as a chaplain with a background in pscyh and trauma, I wouldn’t find much of a reason to go. Even with that training, I always feel far from “equipped” to step into total destruction and overwhelming pain.

Nepal 1

I do however feel called. God always shows up on behalf of suffering. His creation. 

The losses in my life, and in particular the loss of a child in traumatic circumstances have given me empathy. Empathy is found in 2 Cor. 1:3-5, 

 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (Emphasis mine)

The majority of Nepalese is Hindu and I read they are skeptical of Christians. I don’t go with an agenda to “convert” it’s not my style, nor do I think it was Jesus style either. People are skittish; they are traumatized and emotionally and cognitively impaired. They NEED practical help.

They need LOVE. 

My only agenda is to love on people with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who makes the love of God in Christ known to humanity. I will bandage wounds, help laboring women, and facilitate the healing of some hearts.

I go to love God’s creation and maybe they will wonder about the light shining in me, revealing my Hope. 

Jesus is so gentle and loving with hurting people – we see that time and again in the Christian scriptures. He was “moved with compassion” and healed “all who were sick.” That is what made his love known throughout. This is what the Kingdom of God ‘with us” is all about.

The Good Samaritan is a stark reminder that all of the “religion” in the world is worthless without love in action.

NEPAL Children

I need funds to go – and I am quickly running out of time. I need some new ministry partners.

Will you consider becoming one? 

I work 100% volunteer  – with a burning passion to help. No middle man in this ministry, no fear of your donation not going directly towards relief.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation through http://www.compassoinatereach.org

I also started a Go Fund Me. When I reach $500 it will be in their search engine. Not before. You can donate there as well.

I don’t usually ask for financial partners, but without you, I can’t do what I do. 

Thank you for partnering with me for Nepal!

http://www.gofundme.com/u5qh5ww

You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. i will do my best to keep updates, and will surely send one out when I get back.

If you are medically trained or a trauma chaplain and would like to join a team in the future, we can make that happen. Maybe you are empty-nesters wondering what to do to help – we can train you for that too. 

Holy Love in the Philippines

As we enter into the weekend, please consider how selfless servants in developing countries spend their Holy Week, and may we learn from them as we read the words of Filipino volunteer, Bryan Mattilano,

Holy 5” Compassionate Reach International , together with my family and the Barangay [Village] Health Workers (BHW), initiated feeding operations in our barangay beginning] Holy Thursday.

As Christ dined with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist, we may also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.”

Holy Week11

Thursday: Supper of Salvation

Day 1 “There were 192 identified malnourished children in the barangay, and 163 of them participated in the feeding program. All the children were weighed and the height was measured. The MUAC strip (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) was also used to determine how malnourished each child is.

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The menu was composed of rice, chicken adobo, egg, vegetables, and hot milk.

Holy 3

The Barangay Health Workers (BHW) identified each of the malnourished children in every purok (sections of the barangay), getting the weight, height and the MUAC measurements, for the locations of the feeding, and follow-up home visitations.

Holy 6

From 163 respondents, 103 of them (63%) are already at risk for becoming malnourished, while 38 children (23%), were identified as malnourished. Only 22 children, (less than 13%) were in normal ranges for nutritional adequacy.

Holy 1This malnutrition is due to scarcity of resources: sufficient food, water, sanitation, and hygiene, brought about by the devastation of Super-typhoon Yolanda, in November of 2014.

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines 1/2014

The super-typhoon also destroyed the local crops, rerouted water sources, killed coconut trees, and negatively affected the landscape and other resources in this fishing and farming community.

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The feeding operation was just on time with the Holy Thursday as Christ dines with His apostles to initiate the Eucharist.

Holy Week 9

May we also share His Body and Blood as we serve the least of our brethren with compassion, especially those who are victims of calamities.

Holy 4

More than anybody who are most vulnerable are the children…. ” 

Holy Week 10

PLEASE NOTE:   Filipino volunteer Bryan Mattilano, is a professor at the University in Tacloban.

Bryan grew up in San Jose, and his parents and family still reside in the village (barangay). San Jose is a 40 minute commute by jeepney or other public transportation from Tacloban. This work of great love and compassion, is done by Bryan, his family, and other volunteers, without pay, and during their “vacation” times.

Bryan, Chp Jamie 1

Bryan and Chp. Jamie – January of 2014, providing trauma support for the local population, and trauma training for the teachers of the elementary school.

Please consider becoming a sponsor of the feeding initiative in San Jose so we can continue to help rebuild lives, while caring for the least of these.

Compassionate Reach is a volunteer organization.  100% of donations go towards helping the poor, needy, and traumatized victims of disasters.

For more information email:  jamie@compassionatereach.org  and go to our website.

Thank you on behalf of San Jose and the volunteers of Compassionate Reach International. 

Contact us to find out how you can train as trauma chaplains, and/ or volunteer for mission outreach and disaster response, with Compassionate Reach International.

A Most Brutal Teacher

Compassion isn’t something that can be taught; empathy is acquired through suffering in the trenches.” Jamie M. Grubb

random-acts-of-kindness-16 (2)

As I get ready to head to Chicago next week I have been thinking a lot about what C.S. Lewis quoted about experience,

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” 

I feel so grateful to God, and so honored to be included in the recent training, upcoming taping, and constant serving others that I do. I often feel inadequate because I don’t have multiple degrees,  PhD’s, or several of them, and the majority (if not all) of my peers have levels of formal education above and beyond what I have. At 55 and by the time I finish graduate school I will be 58ish… (if I every focus on staying engaged…) I  would be 106 to graduate with the same amount of letters after my name as my peers!

And yet – here I am. Recently sitting among some of my peers and surrounded by brilliance, I was again feeling inept (and commented on it) when one of my peers pointed out, “You have experience that none of us have. You lived through what we only know second hand or by education. You are the one teaching us.” Wow. I was humbled. Awed. And these are real professionals – real friends – real peers – the ones who understand trauma and wouldn’t throw me under the bus if I was in crisis, but would come alongside and help me and each other through the crisis to the other side.

As C.S. Lewis stated, experience is a brutal teacher and it is also a hard taskmaster. The learning process is often slow, tedious, and very painful. Grief is messy, disorganized, and something we would just rather skip on to the other side. I more often than not wish that I didn’t have to suffer through a healing process from ptsd and spiritual abuse, and that my children had been spared… yet experience…you learn by golly, you learn…

If we look at the life of Jesus Christ, in his three short years of ministry, he experienced what the majority of Christians – at least American Christians will ever experience. In the extent of his lifetime, he experienced it all. As a child, he experienced all the suffering of his nation as well as the rejection by those who accused him of being the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier.  Deprivation, hunger, betrayal, loneliness, isolation, rejection from his family, rejection from his friends, fleeing for his life, persecution, grief, fear, homelessness, separation from friends and family, tormented, bruised, beaten, bloodied, crucified.

He is the best teacher because he possesses all wisdom, the knowledge, and the experience.

I am reminded that is wasn’t Dr. Jesus who speaks to us by His word. I am reminded that it takes more than a bunch of letters after a name, or psychology, or religion to make someone a compassionate friend and caregiver. It takes empathy – it takes love – and that is something that can’t be learned from books; it is a gift that comes wrapped in suffering.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us,                                                                                                                              We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.                           We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in [us].”                                                                                           2 Cor. 4:8-10

God is Here – 2

IMG_9416The view out of my front door is one of devastation, and poverty –  love and hope. I look through the children’s playground, from the San Jose Elementary School turned Mercy In Action, maternal health care/ birthing/ medical clinic, to broken walls, debris, roofless, tarp covered, plywood, homes, and coconut trees that have been snapped in half by the wind, and now line the beach.

As I am writing this, a mother just came in with her young son as he seizes for the second time that day. He had already been seen this morning, by the group of German doctors  from the NGO, NAVIS, who also serve here twice a week.  The nurses and EMT’s are doing the best they can to help this child, knowing there is often little they can do that hasn’t already been done. They will bring some measure of comfort as well as practical help, all done in the name of the One who loves the child most.

I am writing now with my T-Shirt covering my nose as the burning trash out back has

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines

San Jose, Dulag, Philippines

aggravated some serious upper respiratory issues I sometimes have, and I feel very ill.  I am praying that God will keep me healthy to serve – as serve I must. That is what I am here for.

I have to find my feet (or God’s feet) – I am going to cook and organize, sweep, and listen – help where needed, and wait for God to open the doors.  I want to support Mercy in Action staff first – as I know some of them are here for weeks already and it doesn’t take long to get weary in a disaster zone.  As I teach the ones I train in compassion ministry  – a Chaplains first calling is to serve  – a ministry of presence takes on many forms.  Though I have yet to speak with more than a few of the local people, Vic has shown me around and shared the many needs, to validate what I knew before coming into this disaster zone – there is no short of traumatic needs here.  “Whom shall I send. Lord send me.”  May the cry of my heart be to the glory of Jesus. I love serving as a chaplain.

They Call Me Lola, God’s Plan for the Philippines

photo (3)They range in ages from yet to be born (early February),  to ten and a half. At the time my oldest daughter and son-in-law was expecting their first child, I was a young forty-four and not feeling old enough to be a, “Grand-ma,” or, “Nana,” or any other array of old sounding names. After all, our youngest son was only four years old – I was still a MOM!

But Lola, well that sounded OK. Lola is the Filipino name for grandmother. (Lolo is the name for grandfathers, but we went with Papa.)  Kristen and Matt had been missionaries to the Philippines for a short while with Mercy in Action, the organization I am partnering with on this deployment. Ethan was born in New Mexico where they were both working stateside for Mercy in Action, training midwives for international missions. There were quite a few years of Filipino influence when the first grandchild was due.

One of the things I have learned about missions and trauma care in particular is God uses common ground for opening doors and bonding. I am sure I will take a few extra pictures of my grandchildren on my phone, as well as in a small picture book for when the time comes that God uses “Lola” to open the doors of the heart. In Haiti, I was warmed to see God use the death of Micaiah as a connection with many of the older women. Even before the earthquake, the loss of children was keenly felt in their country; after the earthquake I doubt there was a mothers heart in Port au Prince and surrounding areas that was not torn on behalf of their own child, or a niece, nephew, neighbors child…

Like Rachael weeping for her children…

This trip was planned before my first grandchild was born, without my knowledge or even the notion that I would become a trauma chaplain; for chaplaincy and trauma care had not yet been fully born in my heart, but God knew. God planted Lola in my heart and in my life as a path to the Philippines, and I go in faith knowing that His plans are always perfect.

But the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.  Ps.33:11

Silent in the Storm

IMG_1523As the clean up for tornadoes OK and other areas continues, and the threat of tropical storms and hurricane season is plaguing previously (and currently) displaced homeowners in the Northeast, I keep thinking about Elijah on Mt. Horeb. I know what it is to feel exhausted of working full time “for God,” placing all hope in the mercy of God, while at the same time reacting (and over-reacting) to the natural events around us – going backwards instead of forwards in our work. Last year was tough in the events of life, but great in the post event growth that we always hope God will work in and for us during the difficult times.

Elijah knew what that felt like – we can’t argue Elijah’s commitment to God or God’s commitment to him and yet we see Elijah’s post traumatic stress reaction while hiding in the cave (I Kings 19:10), “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, [while others have abandoned you]…I’m the only one left and now they are trying to kill me…”

Alone. Abandoned. Isolated. Rejected. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Depressed. Did I say feeling alone? I can’t begin to imagine what Elijah must have felt like as he sat hiding in that cave. I bet he had one wicked stress headache. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – send the angel first – basic needs met – bread baking on the coals, water, and sleep. Check. Now, get up and work. A bit more rest… Still afraid, but moving forward.

And God showed up – not in the terrifying events but in the gentle whisper. Not in the earth-shattering, but in the easy movement. Not in the heat, but in the cool breeze. He showed up despite Elijah’s hiding. He used him anyway. He uses us in our weaknesses. He will be looking for those in the tornado, the floods, and the fires who want to be used – not despite their pain, but because of it. Works of art – woven tapestries of grace complete with scars from where the blanket has been used to keep others warm – maybe even a stain where the wound of another bled onto us and left its mark.

I am waiting for the cool breeze right now. I have been without earth-shattering for at least a few months now, but the breeze still hasn’t blown. Sometimes hearing His voice requires we step out into the flames again, through the falling boulders and brace ourselves against the wind to find the cave where we can be still, and listen.  I know I need a cave right now – I need to get past an “I’m the only one left” moment to hear Him tell me where I am to go next.  In the mean time I will keep moving forward – trusting that I am on the right path and that each life I touch is the one Starfish sent from God – whether that be in Oklahoma, Staten Island, Haiti or the next room.

I can smell the break baking. I’m ready to roll.

Note: You can learn more about what it is I do on the About Me page. Maybe you will want to use your wounds to blanket someone. If so, I am more than happy to help point you to the baking bread and jug of water.