Insight Into a "Typical Trip."

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GRC regularly sends teams of care providers to a distant country regularly to provide care to the large number of global workers living there. This country is particularly strategic because of the concentration of global workers and the large number of unreached people groups concentrated there. GRC is committed to these recurring trips to assure a continuity of care to these clients and to see that every worker has access to care. While each trip finds our team encountering “typical” stress issues, each trip also carries its own unique challenges and problems. We hope the following post from one of our long-time care providers will give you more insight into a “typical trip” and the challenges faced by global workers around the world.

44 years in psychiatry. 5 days in this country. One would think the professional and life experiences of the former would be adequate to handle the latter. Guess again. I had not been in country 24 hours when I was enlisted to examine and then accompany a young wife who was experiencing acute unexplained neurological symptoms; I was exposed to the less-than-cutting-edge medical system as we drove an hour to get to a hospital to obtain a CT scan, but at least I could speak the language, in this case medical jargon, as decisions were made to get her to a nearby country with more advanced diagnostic and interventional capabilities. I was glad I could help. I felt like I was being used well. Go, God. Go, me.

Then I start seeing the “regular” folk, those who had signed up to talk to members of our team. One. Two. Four. Six. After church today (morning as I write), there will be more this afternoon and a full schedule next two days. The stories: Loss. Grief. Sadness. Each. And. Every. One.

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Example: A valued colleague diagnosed with terminal cancer (no symptoms; found on routine annual exam), has only a few days to dispose of all household goods, pack, and depart for “home.” You are out of town when this happens so you return to find that your closest friend is gone and you quite possibly will not see her again this side of heaven.

Example: You are young and have experienced the transition of home assignment where you have to temporarily enter a new school, the odd person out, knowing you will only be there one year before coming back “home” to the field. Kids are not always receptive. But there is this one girl who does invite you to join activities and becomes your closest connection. She doesn’t show up for school one day; you find out two days later she was killed in a car accident. You are now back “home” and dealing with more losses, the usual goings that occur when families move in the work they are called to do. You develop an illness that keeps you from pursuing your favorite activity. Your parents want you to talk to the shrink. Yep.

Example: You have been volunteering to help in relief efforts related to mass casualties from recent earthquakes and tsunamis. In spite of evidence that you are helping, what haunts you are images of the death, the destruction, the utterly overwhelming needs that can’t be addressed. You are exhausted but can’t seem to sleep.

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These are only a sampling. And my “vast knowledge and experience” is useless in providing any medical or psychiatric solution to the pain expressed. I listen. I pray (more, “I groan”). They weep. I weep. We claim the truth that God is sovereign and that there is purpose in all that is transpiring, even in acute loss. I know that listening and being available are therapeutic in their own right, and I am grateful to be here.

There is a lot of pain out there, folks. Rejoice in the places of comfort, closeness and love, as they may be transient. Your prayers for all of the above are deeply appreciated. And hug the ones nearby when you’re finished praying.

[The subsequent 14 days brought more opportunities to see God at work; the following was written on the last evening before returning home, and attempts to give a picture of the number of such opportunities encountered on just one trip]

0600 local time, Wednesday.
16 days.
10 separate flight legs, total (when completed) 27,000 miles.
21 people counseled (couples, individuals)
22 sessions = 33 hours of face to face counseling plus several “sidewalk” connections
5 great colleagues, each different in clinical approach and personality, all complementing perfectly
Evidences of God’s grace and providence: innumerable
Exhaustion: 100%
Blessed: 500%

(The above numbers are for me. The other five counselors had similar workloads; together we served five cities.)