Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A lot to be thankful for…

by Jenny

It was nice to have a whole week off for Thanksgiving. At first, I felt sort of like Lisa Simpson on the episode when the PTA goes on strike and school gets cancelled. She doesn’t know what to do with herself without the structure of school and having homework to do, so she starts inventing projects and insisting the Marge grade her for nothing. I wasn’t quite that bad, but it did take me a few days to get out of “school mode” and ease into having a whole week just to do normal life stuff, especially since I don’t actually travel anywhere for breaks.

Last Monday I made a visit for my Pastoral Care class—an 85-year-old woman who spent 40 years as a missionary nurse in Pakistan. I enjoyed hearing about her experience in a part of the world that is difficult for Americans to enter today. While it was sad to hear that most missionaries have now left Pakistan, it was encouraging to look at her photos and think of a time when people from the US could build mutual relationships with the Pakistani people and share daily life and ministry. I left this visit feeling like I received more from this woman than I was able to give her.

On Tuesday, I finally had the opportunity to catch up with a friend from Luther that I hadn’t seen in awhile. She is an international student, and I realized again how much I can learn from others’ experiences, including the great sacrifices people make to be able to study and prepare for ministry. She also taught me how to make Southeast Asian tea, which I should have learned on my study abroad in India, but now I finally had my chance to try it out.

The rest of the week was quite normal—a quiet Thanksgiving at home with my parents and brother, cleaning, doing laundry, catching up with friends—all the “normal” stuff that often gets put on hold during the busier parts of the semester.

Then my week ended on an unexpected note—I had to take my dad to the emergency room Friday night because he had severe kidney pain. The good news is that of all the possibilities of what could have been wrong, the doctors discovered that the problem was a small stone that should pass through on its own. We were all thankful for the hopeful diagnosis. I am also thankful to be reminded of what’s important in life: people. I brought my pastoral care book to the ER because I didn’t know how long we’d be there. As I sat at my dad’s bedside, he saw the book, and jokingly told me that now was the time to try out what I’m learning. That’s when I learned that the most important aspect of care is often just being with someone, even if you don’t say a word.


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