Hi, everyone. Sharon here. Here’s SMI from a wife’s point of view. I am obviously one-step removed from the inner-workings of the project, since my primary job here is to be a mother and wife. But here are some random thoughts & pictures for you to see the project through the eyes of a quasi-insider.
Bryan has mentioned the trips to Mexico already in a separate posting. The girls and I joined the team for 2 of our Mexico days so far, which was rewarding. I think my favorite part was seeing Carissa process just how different it would be to live in Matamoros. I believe this exposure is a partial answer to my prayers from over 15 years ago. Here’s a photo of me — in scrubs and all! — helping out in our “pharmacy”. I spend most of the day dusting off my very rust Spanish skills, translating things like “take one tablet every 4-6 hours for pain as needed”, then verbally explaining the directions to the patients in case they can’t read the printed instructions we give them.
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time doing hospitality. We decided that we’d like to have each student down to our home for a meal, to get to know them better and to check in with them in a smaller-group setting. The cafeteria is fine, but not conducive to deeper conversation. (We share the room with about 90 illegal immigrant boys who are also housed on-site.) So twice a week, I’ve been hosting lunches for our family plus 6-8 students at a time. It’s been a highlight for me to serve in this way, and to visit with each student more personally and intentionally.
Although I don’t get to participate in much of the classroom activities, last Thursday we did have a “Relationships Panel”, and all the faculty (Bryan and I included) were put in the Hot Seat to speak on / answer questions about relationships. Most of these students are at a point in their lives when relationships are quite relevant, and they asked a lot of good questions. It was good to have an opportunity to sit next to Bryan and talk about some of the things God has taught us through the scriptures about wisdom in relationships, and to share our experiences as a couple.
The kids have been having a wonderful time! Carissa turned 8 our first Sunday here, 7/1. The students threw her a surprise party. I think that was all it took for her to fall in love with SMI. Who can blame her? She has 40 medical students to hang out with anytime she wants. What could be better? Here’s a photo of her with her birthday girl hat.
Anna has also enjoyed all the attention from our community here. Being extroverted by nature, she thrives on the attention and on making people laugh. She does miss home sometimes, and has asked several times if we could “just get on a plane and go to our other house and get her sandals”. But I think both she and Carissa are going to go through SMI withdrawal when they no longer have 40 adoring fans to talk with everyday!
Matthew has done wonderfully, all things considered. In large measure, I would say the main reason is he has had a wonderful woman here to be his one-on-one. He’s learned how to use our names and use more complete verbal sentences during the past couple weeks, no small feat! Here’s a photo of him with Michelle Spatucci. She loved him so well, and he loves her. She left this morning, and her replacement is here now — Stephanie. She is a very sweet woman, so I think they will do well for the rest of our time here.
Being a part of the entire 4-weeks of project this year has helped me to appreciate how well-established and thought-through this project is. Things have gone incredibly smoothly, especially in light of this being Bryan’s first year participating. We have inherited a really wonderful mission trip to help with, and our student leaders are a really capable and servant-minded bunch of brothers & sisters.
It can be difficult to be here as a family. Bryan’s time is best spent, especially early in project, managing details and investing in key relationships. This is his calling, and therefore mine, too. Days are really, truly FULL. But it makes me especially thankful for the helper with Matthew (I wasn’t all alone those first 2 weeks of project!), and that God prepared me for this aspect of the trip. It also caused me to remember how dependent I am on the Lord.
This may seem to contradict everything I just said, but… It is both rewarding and important to be here as a family. I can’t imagine not being a part of SMI. The children are learning about the Lord, and seeing Christ in their teammates. The students have showed them love and attention. They are being exposed first-hand to another culture, to believers who live very differently than they do. They are hearing the gospel preached, and lived out in community. We are all benefiting from being a part of these things.
And it is also so important for us to be a family on project. About a week ago, I received a note from one of the students. This student wanted to encourage me, and let me know how thankful she was were that we were living on site. She said she wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and it meant a lot for her to be able to see us interact with the children, to see how we try to live out the gospel in our home… The note humbled me (because although I know people are watching, it’s always a bit scary to hear about it!) but also encouraged me. Even though we can’t be a part of most of the teaching in the classroom, and we can play only a minor role on the outreaches, God is blessing the desires of my heart to be here.
I’m already looking forward to next summer. 🙂
Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray. Next week, when we talk about “Return Training” and how to live out what we’ve learned in the rest of life… this is where the possibility of longterm impact for the Kingdom of God really comes into focus. Please pray for all of us, that God would help us deeply apply those things He wants to teach us, that we would be useful soldiers in the Kingdom, rooted in the hope of glory in us, Christ.