just to be the one


On my last day in Paris, I was walking toward Luxembourg Garden, composing a blog post in my head about how much I love Paris because I've been here four times and so I can navigate it easily without getting lost. And then I stopped daydreaming and realized I'd been so distracted writing a blog post about how I never get lost, that I'd gotten myself lost. So that was awesome.

Anyway.  I found my way again, and as I walked through the gardens, I thought all the work it's taken to get ready to go to Africa -- the travel clinic appointments, immunizations, and malaria pills.  Wrestling with my insurance company to get a 4 month supply of my anti-cancer medicines since I'm pretty sure there isn't a Walgreen's pharmacy in Togo.  The 10,000 miles it takes to fly there and back.

Once I get there, I'll be working in 100+ degree heat, taking call every 4th night, risking serious injury and illness.

The mental list gave me pause.  God, are you sure I'm supposed to be doing this? I asked.


And then I thought about the song 500 Miles, originally performed by The Proclaimers (here's my favorite cover of it by Sleeping at Last.) 

But I would walk 500 miles

And I would walk 500 more 

Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles

To fall down at your door

I thought about the people of Togo who have been suffering without adequate medical care for decades (maybe centuries?) because until the Hospital of Hope opened in Mango, the closest hospital was a 9-hour drive away.

I thought about the American and Togolese staff who have been working together for nearly 15 years to buy the land, raise funds, build the hospital, and train staff to run it.

I looked at the pictures on the hospital's website, and saw the beautiful, patient people who line up at the hospital every day to try to get seen.

And I thought about how clear it's been to me all along that this is what God's calling me to do with the next few months of my life. That God is calling me just to be the one. 

The one who serves people at the hospital.  The one who opens the access door to medical care a little wider.  The one who writes about it so you can share this experience with me, and maybe be inspired to pitch in to help this cause, or another cause you're passionate about.

I'm not the end-all, be-all solution for the town of Mango or the country of Togo or the continent of Africa. I know from my experience with the Somali "Invisible Girls," I can't even meet all the needs of a single family.
But I can give of my energy and time and education and presence just to help the people I can. Just to be with them. 

As I walked back to the hotel to pack up my belongings and head to the airport, I prayed for the people of Togo.   I started packing, and the 500 Miles melody kept playing in my head, with slightly different words.

But I would fly 5,000 miles 

And I would fly 5,000 more

Just to be the one

who flew 10,000 miles

To meet you at the door.

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Update: I arrived safely in Togo!  Tomorrow I'll be making the 9 hour drive to Mango, where the hospital is located.