December 12 – My Nominee for Photo of the Year

doll.largeIf Time magazine decides to name a photo of the year, this from Burundi will be my nominee. The photo was taken a few months ago by Dr. Rachel McLaughlin, an ob/gyn and one of the members of the remarkable Kibuye Hope team (take a look; it is well worth 94 seconds) LPC is so privileged to support  specifically through the work of John and Jessica Cropsey, and in other ways, as well.

Back in November Rachel posted some thoughts for those of us who might be packing Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Though, OCC has not yet made it to Burundi, Rachel offered some suggestions from the developing world side of the program.  One of her tips was about dolls.  She told painted a picture using the story of her daughter Maggie’s Baby June doll: I had no idea the kind of uproar that Maggie’s Baby June doll would create when we took it out of the house for the first time.  The local kids loved it.  Toby’s babysitter loved it.  I took it up to the hospital to use as a delivery model and everyone stared and wanted to touch it, including the nurses (one took it and I wasn’t convinced she was going to give it back!)  It seems like no one here has ever seen such a thing.  So, girls of all ages would love a little doll, bonus points for dark skin.

And, of course, the photo.

Rachel also mentioned little boys and Hot Wheels cars. When one of our Mission Committee members read Rachel’s post, he began thinking one of those wonderful “what if…” thoughts.  What if we could get some toys to Burundi?  The first question to answer had to do with whether it was a good idea or not.  The Mission Committee is well aware of the “When Helping Hurts” phenomena in mission work and we did not want our good feelings to hurt the better work on the ground. What if our gifts caused problems for those who would not receive a toy?  What if this would be just so much more Western junk in a world that doesn’t need Western junk?

Our Mission Committee Member wrote Jess Cropsey, told her our idea, and she responded,“I’m glad that LPC is eager to bring joy & delight to children here in Burundi!  It really is fun to see their faces light up and hear their exclamations of “Yooooo….!”  We could certainly distribute some gifts to children at the hospital.  Toys here (or even in Nairobi) are very expensive and often very poor quality, so it’s probably best to buy them in the USA and find a way to get them here. …We’re so glad to have LPC as a partner in the work here.”  

The mission committee was on a mission.  Using some Mission Opportunity Fund reserves, they purchased 22 “Doc McSuffins” dolls and 45 Match Box cars.  The package full of toys is now on its way to Burundi.

The Christmas box from LPC that will arrive in Burundi in a few weeks is pretty small. We spent around $300 to purchase the toys and get them to Africa. LPC commits something over $200,000 a year to our various mission causes through budgeted and special gift donations.  Our growing partnership with the Cropseys and Kibuye Hope is much more significant than a box of toys. We’re working with John Cropsey right now through a special gift from an LPC member on the purchase of an important instrument for John’s work in ophthalmology, particularly with children.

So some take-aways from our Burundi toy project –

  • Mission is done best in partnership with those in the field. We need to listen well to what John and Jessica, Rachel and Eric, and all the Kibuye Hope team is telling us.
  • Mission is done best when we allow the Holy Spirit to work at the center and on the edges.  I believe that “what if?” thought of our Mission Committee came by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • Mission is done best when we’re more concerned with whether our help helps than whether it makes us feel good.  It Jess or Rachel had told us not to send toys – or to use the $300 in a country where the per capita is $300 in a different way, we would have done what they suggested.
  • Mission is done best when word and deed are bound together.  There’s a reason the Kibuye Hope team calls their blog “Word and Deed.”  “Yooooo!” the kids in the hospital will say when they receive a doll or a Match Box car.  They are in the hospital to be treated and healed by skilled physicians who have been sent in Jesus’ name, and the kids will hear that name while they are patients in the hospital.
  • Mission is done best when we ask, “can we do anything else?”  We’re pretty sure there’s something else coming soon.  We’ll let you know as soon as we know – maybe just a couple more months. There are some wonderful ways we can help without hurting this amazing work in Burundi.

The Hope Kibuye team writes, “The Gospel (which simply means ‘good news’) is to be in Word and Deed. The good news is that Jesus is your salvation for all of time and that His kingdom is bringing you medical care here and now. Word without Deed would be an incomplete Gospel. Deed without Word would also.”

22 dolls and 45 Match Box cars are not much. A small deed. But, yes, a wonderfully fun deed to do. Pray for the Hope Kibuye team as they bring medical care to the poorest country on earth. Pray for them as they share the good news with words that fit.  Pray for them as their youngest patients are given a gift from God’s people far away.

Time magazine, you have your photo.