Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Building of a Dental Clinic

This week marks the commencement of our second journey to India. Two years ago, we shared the experience with all who would listen. To raise money for the children there, we sold thousands of bracelets with a profound message, "Make Change." We received countless emails and messages of encouragement and hope, as others followed our journey and committed to making their own kind of change. It was a grand effort of mutual inspiration with people all over the world.

This time has been different. We've been much more quiet. I wasn't going to blog. I was only going to tell those people who needed to know - teachers, coaches, carpools, neighbors and our church (you realize when you are leaving the country for an extended period of time how it really does take a village to raise your family). This was to be an experience for our family, especially for our 6th grade son whose turn it is to go, and I was trying to approach it with that in mind. I didn't want to bother people in the midst of their own busy lives by talking about mine. God had other plans.

"What is Your Doing Saying?" This was the title of a blog I came across the other day and the question would not stop ringing through my mind. Since I am in the throws of preparations for India, my silent answer revolved around that. I'm teaching my children and especially my son about sacrifice, gratitude, suffering and service. I'm walking by faith and trying to do a little good in the world. I felt satisfied with my answer until another question popped in my mind.

"What is Your Doing NOT Saying?"

Ouch. In a weak attempt at humility, I was failing to share with the world what God's doing was saying. None of this is about me, or about what my family is doing. This is a story about what God is doing, therefore what he is saying, through us. It is a story of miracles and it needs to be told.

You only have to look back a few blog entries to see the condition of the dental clinic on our first trip there - faulty equipment, broken chairs, and a make-shift work space. We left there with a vision and a goal to build a real, sustainable dental clinic but we had no idea how we would pull it off. As luck would have it, Rising Star had plans to build a new medical facility on the campus and they agreed to include a room for a dental clinic in the plans. The room was finished as promised, but beyond that, they did not have anything left in their budget to furnish the clinic. If it was going to happen, it would be up to us.

Life got busy these past two years but we continued to hold the vision in our minds. The problem was, everything really just stayed in our minds - even in our hearts, but none of it translated into action. That was, until I turned the calendar to a new year and realized we had let a few hundred kids in India down. We were 3 months away from having to face them again and we hadn't done what we promised ourselves we would do.

Feeling low on faith, I sat down and wrote an email to family and friends with a plea for help if they felt so inspired. The night before, I had verbalized to Aaron a dollar figure (and it wasn't a small one), telling him that if we had that much it would change everything. Within hours of sending the email I had a friend contact me with a donation of the exact dollar amount I had told Aaron just the night before. I have not had such a timely and direct response to a prayerful need in a very long time. My feelings in that moment are impossible to put into words.

Since that first donation, we have had every single need met for the dental clinic in much the same way. Each time I sat down to re-prioritize the needs, knowing the money wouldn't be there, it showed up. From a wad of tattered $20 bills given by a recovering drug addict, to large donations sacrificed by the most unlikely friends, and every amount willingly given in between, it has all been perfectly provided. We are far from finished, but for now we have the dental clinic that was designed by God all along.

I just got this email yesterday from the director of Rising Star in India. We've had some challenges obtaining needed equipment there and were prepared to be let down when once again, miracles took place. Here is what she said:

Dear Tara,

Good Morning!

We got the autoclave, 2 operator chairs, and lead apron by the grace of God!
Once we set up and everything is working I will let you know.
Only then we can be peaceful!

So sorry you have to bring so much of luggage.
It can be very difficult and I hope many angels will be assigned to assist you.
Thank you for this effort you are taking on behalf of us!

I too think the Savior will not let us down and your prayers will be heard.

Faith in the Savior results in victory!

What is God saying? He says he loves us wholly and deeply and infinitely. He loves the children in India who need dental care. He loves the people in Africa who need clean water. He loves the families in Ukraine torn apart by war. He loves those in our own homeland who struggle with poverty, loneliness, disease, addiction, abuse, neglect, and despair. How does he meet all those needs? Through us.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

Thank you to all have supported us in this journey and continue to support us with your prayers and donations. Thank you to grandparents who have sacrificed their time and resources to be here with our other kids while we are gone. Thank you to the friends who are watching out for our kids and getting them where they need to be or standing by just in case. Your service to us is service to our friends in India, and most importantly, service to God.

Please stay in touch with our blog in the coming weeks as we will share with you the many miracles awaiting us in beautiful India. Work officially begins March 2 - we can't wait!