2 months ago I learned about the Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference in Houston. I wrestled with whether I should go or not - knowing it would cost several hundred dollars - money that I didn't want to waste if the conference turned out to be a huge letdown. The one thing that kept drawing me back to say YES was the opportunity to connect with Dr. Buumba Bubala, the opening speaker and doctor working in a rural Zambian hospital. I purchased my tickets, flights, and hotel hopeful that the weekend would be well worth it!
...and i am so glad i said yes!
20 minutes into walking around the exhibit hall full of inspiring organizations just like Love Abounds - I knew I had made the right decision. Today I'm sharing my 3 BIG takeaways from the conference:
1. I connected with Dr. Bubala
I signed up for Dr. Bubala's Break-Out Session just in the hopes of the chance to connect. Her session reminded me of my second home, Kunchubwe Village, as she discussed some of the most challenging cases she's faced while working in a rural Zambian hospital.
I was reminded of the reason I wanted to connect with Dr. Bubala in the first place - because we see a lot of terrible sickness and injuries in the village and are completely clueless about what to do about it!! Her session spoke of incredible hardships yet overwhelming hope.
I knew this woman in front of me could be an answer to so many of the questions Tony, Carol, and I toss around when one of our friends in Kunchubwe gets a third degree burn OR needs a double hip replacement OR has a still birth and is coping emotionally and physically OR a young girl full of shame lets a yeast infection turn into something much more serious. We have so many unanswered questions for so many people we love. Every time we leave a hospital or clinic, we are SO disappointed at the lack of answers we get.
After Dr. Bubala's talk, I introduce myself and tell her about the hopelessness I feel dealing with an inadequate health care system. With a knowing nod, a huge smile, and a steady reassurance - she gave me her email address and told me to connect with her.
Several days later, I send an email to Dr. Bubala and almost immediately she responded. Over the past few days, Carol and Dr. B have communicated back and forth about our questions - she's given us advice, pointed us to doctors in Lusaka she trusts, and been incredibly willing and available to communicate.
Maybe it doesn't sound like much, but this is HUGE for our community. We've had some horrible experiences in the clinics and hospitals. Not just horrible - but horrifying. To KNOW that there are doctors in Zambia worthy of our trust, who put the patient first, and became a doctor to HELP others - wow - its put our minds at ease.
2. Don't reinvent the wheel
Walking through the exhibit hall, one thing became abundantly obvious : There are SO many amazing, inspiring, getting-it-DONE organizations out there! Duh - its not that I didn't know that - but I went to M3 wondering how does Love Abounds lead medical trips? I was on a mission to learn everything I could about leading medical professionals and I guess medicine itself - since I literally have no medical knowledge at all.
And I left M3 knowing that Love Abounds is not supposed to LEAD medical trips. There's a reason I'm not a medical professional and therefore there's a reason I'm not supposed to lead medical professionals across the world to serve in Zambia.
Halfway through the exhibit hall, my dad's voice popped in my head, "Don't reinvent the wheel, Bethany." Booth after booth, person after person, organization after incredible organization all leading and excelling at medical missions trips. I needed that reminder - that we are not an island trying to change the world all on our own - but surrounded by thousands of people ready, willing, and most importantly in this case, ABLE. I left M3 knowing that I may never lead a group of doctors to Kunchubwe Village personally but that I can/should/WILL connect with other groups who will.
3. following your calling isn't a single yes!
The theme of the conference was SAY YES. Say yes to God's calling on your life. Say yes to the things that scare you. Say yes to the risks. Say yes to moments that take you out of your comfort zone.
In 2015, I said YES! to quitting my job and following my dream for Love Abounds. It was terrifying and exhilarating and life-changing. Over the weekend, it hit me like a pound of bricks that I've treated saying YES! to start Love Abounds as the only big YES! of my lifetime. As if we could ride off the momentum from that first YES! moment forever.
Obviously, we have continued to say YES! - we've said YES! to building Life Okendewa, to start taking teams to Zambia, and much more. BUT - in my mind, I was done saying YES! to the big questions. To the questions that take me out of my comfort zone, the ones that put me in a place of vulnerability.
Saying YES! requires much more of us than a one-time decision. It requires us to be willing and available. Willing to fail, willing to look incredibly stupid, willing to sacrifice. Available with our time, money, and feelings. To ALWAYS be willing and available to say YES! to the moments that rock our boats, take us out of our comfort zones and seem terrifyingly impossible. I realized last weekend, my life will be a series of saying YES! for Love Abounds. That is so. so. SO exciting.
It was an amazing weekend that challenged me, inspired me, and connected me. I hope my 3 BIG take-aways can also challenge and inspire you. Maybe you're contemplating saying YES! to a scary decision and need some encouragement. Or maybe, like me, you've been trying to reinvent the wheel for something in your life. Know this: trust your gut, learn from others, and you can definitely do it.
Thanks and love to everyone!