Houston, We Have A Problem!

When my friend, Jessica, got her dog, she announced that she would name him Houston. Why? So that when he went potty in the house or had any other kind of puppy accident, she could yell, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”
At swimming lessons the other day, I had a lovely chat with a fellow mom who had gone through a house that day, a house that was just coming on the market. The house was in need of updating but was fully habitable, affordably priced, in the right neighborhood for schools, and larger than her current house. The extra square footage, extra sinks in the bathroom, extra room in the garage, larger backyard were all highly attractive. But the remodeling that would need to be done was not. To bite on this or not… that was the question. In a moment of truth, however, my friend commented, “If this is the biggest problem I have to deal with this week, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”
That same day, I read this on Facebook: “Tired tonight very busy clinic and kitchen, last Friday school teachers came to the clinic to ask for ambulance child hit by taxi, Brian was out I raced there with our paramedic, poor darling died the next day, Mother ill with T.B. So we think we have Problems. Take each day as a gift from GOD.” This was posted by Dawn Leppan, founder of the 1000 Hills Community Helpers Clinic in South Africa. Let’s look at the problems listed in this staccato message. Problem 1: There’s a mother with tuberculosis… a disease against which we successfully immunize here in the States, a disease that has all but been eradicated here. Problem 2: Her child gets hit by a taxi. Problem 3: No one has a cell phone to dial 911 immediately. Instead, the teachers of the nearby school run to the clinic asking for help. Time is wasted, in our way of thinking anyway. Problem 4: Low staffing at the clinic. The regular ambulance driver is out. Problem 5: The unknown. How healthy was this child to begin with? What other medical factors were at play here? Possible malnutrition? Malaria? And how equipped was the clinic to handle this sort of emergency? We are talking about rural Africa, here. I don’t mean any disrespect to Ms. Leppan and her amazing staff in asking that question. But I think it is a pertinent question.
Let’s see here. For comparison, my problems for the week thus far are: 1. Finding childcare for one child so I can go work in the other child’s class at school for their Valentine’s Day party. 2. Locating Star Wars valentines for Joseph to take to school. 3. Winston, the dog, has a puppy tooth that has to be extracted so the adult tooth can come in. 4. When in the world am I going to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk with all of the places I need to take the kids? 5. Scheduling the summer activities for the kids is starting now. Seriously?
Granted, I’m trivializing things a bit. There are things that I worry about on a daily basis… things like the general health of kids, spouse, and parents, the state of a loved one’s soul, things from the past that rear their heads in ways and places and times I don’t expect. I’ve had problems of magnitude. Praise God that there aren’t any right now. And praise God that when there are bigger ones, I am learning to turn to Him with those problems, learning to let Him handle them.
Really, we’ve all had problems of magnitude. This world is broken. I’m not making some kind of political statement here (although it is tempting at times to point the finger at a politician and blame). The world’s brokenness goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose desire over relationship, knowledge over trust, pain and suffering over wholeness. On the surface, we smile, seem cheery, upbeat, optimistic. We’re busy with life, operating at a mind-altering speed sometimes, and often missing the cues around us showing us the brokenness. There goes a man addicted to pain killers. That woman over there was raped as a teenager. The mom behind you in the grocery store line miscarried 3 times before she had that child who is now screaming in the grocery cart. Over there, that man? He just lost his job and can’t figure out how to go home and tell his wife and kids. He’s lucky. The man ordering coffee over there is about to go home to find that his wife has left him for another man. Dear John. Do you get it? So we think we have problems? Of course we do! Everyone has a problem every now and then. Houston, we’ve got a planet full of problems.
The thing that I find distressing, however, is the thought that perhaps somehow that child in South Africa could have been saved, just like his mother could have been inoculated against tuberculosis, had the resources been available. This is the distressing thought that instigated the founding of CareNow. There are big problems in Africa… HIV/AIDS being among the greatest of the medical related ones. Big problems require bold solutions. Meanwhile, while we’re waiting for bold solutions, there are hundreds of little solutions we can be doing right now. CareNow recognizes this. Oh for a box of surgical gloves! Oh for a child-sized blood pressure cuff! Oh for some novocaine! And Compassion Tea Company recognizes this, too. While we’re waiting for the big cures and big answers and bold solutions, we’re selling tea, using the money to buy and ship medical supplies or to support medical staff. We’re doing something NOW.
Yes, Houston, we have a problem. But a little compassion goes a long way… one small solution at a time.

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