Rural Missionary Life As a DIY Experience

by Jess Cropsey

Living in a rural place with limited resources and personnel, we often find ourselves googling, “How do you…?” And this is not usually because we are trying to save some money or like the idea of figuring out something ourselves. It's because there is no other option.
As a simple example, what do you do when your oven's not working? Since the only appliance repair man that you know is almost 100 miles away, you start by trying to figure it out yourself. And what do you do when you discover that the problem is the result of a mouse that has made a home in your oven insulation? Call your neighbor for reinforcements. We have yet to solve the dilemma of getting replacement insulation. 

Want a date night with your spouse? Unless you make a special trip away, your options are the hospital canteen or plan it yourself! Thanks to the genius of a former teammate, some of us buy take-out from a nice Indian restaurant in Bujumbura and freeze it for an easy date night meal. Other teammates have other creative date night ideas (that might be helpful for those of you in quarantine right now!)

Need a haircut and don't have access to a stylist? Pay your stylist a little extra next time you're in the USA so that she can teach your husband how to cut your hair

Need to have a hospital machine fixed? Perhaps you’ll get lucky and there will be a handy visitor around with some free time. But most of the time, you’ll have to take care of it yourself. John spent several hours on Saturday morning trying to fix a microscope in the eye clinic.

Need some PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in the midst of a pandemic? Stephanie and Lindsay have been working hard to organize mask-making for our hospital employees and patients. Even the kids have participated in the efforts.

Rachel sporting her new mask in the OR

Meanwhile, Greg has been actively working to prepare the hospital for what may be coming. Dubbed, "Captain Covid", he recruited John to help him build a plexiglass intubation box to protect both patients and anesthetists during intubations when viruses can be aerosolized from the airway in large quantities. As you can see, John took this responsibility very seriously.

Greg trying out the finished product

More DIY PPE: 
John purchased transparency sheets in Bujumbura to use as face shields

While it can feel at times that there are too many problems to fix, that we're in way over our heads, or that there just isn't enough time in the day or energy in the body to figure out one more thing, the reality is that we are not alone and that it's not all up to us. We have national partners who are invested in this with us. We have access to a network of professionals, churches, organizations, and individuals from all over the world who are willing to give or offer support in any way they can. 

For example, just a few days ago, John was faced with a really complicated glaucoma case. He e-mailed several glaucoma specialists in the USA asking for advice and quickly received input from the top specialists in the field to help guide surgical care for his patient. 

Most importantly, we have a God who is walking with us every step of the way. We don't need to rely on our own intelligence, capabilities, energy, or ingenuity. He will give us what we need when we need it. And we're thankful for the reminders that He gives of His presence, like this beautiful double rainbow on Sunday.


onewhostrives said...

When I was meeting up with guys in undergrad for discipleship session I would routinely challenge them to follow Christ with "integrity, intensity, and innovation." I thought it was my own alliterative invention but I think that perhaps I was secretly parroting you. Great work!

Sandy said...

I appreciate your post in a new way during this season of COVID. It's hard to get things like takeout, haircuts and birthday presents. Thanks for blazing the trail and giving us the confidence that we can do this!