Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thank You for Bed Bugs!

Recently, I returned from a medical missions trip to Panama and Costa Rica with a group of fellow pre-med students from Clemson University! It was such an amazing experience with such an amazing group of people.

Our group landed late at night into Panama City, Panama, and then crashed at our hotel for the night. The next day was spent doing orientation for the next few days spent in Panama. We learned more Spanish, lessons for clinic, and other information about Panama! The next day, we packed up to leave the city and head for David! On the way, we got to stop by the Panama Canal. It may not sound all that exciting, but it actually was. After a long day on the bus, we finally arrived in David and, once again, crashed.
My team then traveled to the community where we would host the free clinic. We visited several houses talking to the natives and determining whether or not they needed help. The next few days, we had clinic! It was so amazing meeting the people of Panama and loving on them. I was so blessed to have an opportunity just to try and help people in need. After clinic days, we were able to all travel to a private island (yes, you read that correctly). We spent all day on the beach in the sun having an amazing time. Then, the next day we got on the bus and began our journey to San Jose, Costa Rica. The next day, we got to tour the city and buy some souvenirs before getting to work the next day doing house visits. My team visited a community outside of San Jose, and we set up our clinic in a church. The next two days we were able to do clinic! Once again, I loved every second of it. Our last day in Costa Rica (and on the trip), we were able to spend the day having fun. We went ziplining on the canopy tour and then we went to Baldi Resort--amazing! After all the fun, we woke up super early the next morning and flew home.

The trip was completely amazing; however, like everything, there were some rough patches. One night while in Costa Rica, I was enjoying the cool evening out on the patio when I noticed small red bumps covering my legs. It was quite startling. Since we had been treating lots of skin disease and fungus over the past two weeks in clinic, I went straight to my professor to ask him if I should be concerned. He immediately answered--bed bugs. I wanted to throw up. How disgusting. All I could picture was my mattress writhing with little black bugs crawling all over my skin while I slept. Because I'm a pre-med student and wanted to be logical and proceed calmly, I went straight to Google, obviously. Yes, bed bugs. Definitely. I was so upset. The hotel we were staying in was less than average (because I'm trying to be nice). I had no opportunity to move rooms or anything to avoid the dreaded bugs. And, there was a good chance they would be in other beds in the hotel as well since bed bugs tend to spread like lice.

For the record, I am not a bug person. At all. Spiders, mosquitoes, beetles, ants, any of those little things that crawl. I am not interested. I was exhausted, tired, ready to be home, and this was the last straw. I just broke down and cried. I couldn't bear the thought. I went to take a shower to try and clear my thoughts and calm down. As I stood in the shower crying my eyes out, wanting to go home more than ever, I couldn't help but think of something. I remembered a book that I have read multiple times, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. It's a true story about a family who protected Jews in their home during WWI. Eventually, they were found out by the Nazis, so Corrie and her sister, Betsy, were imprisoned in a concentration camp. In their bunks in their specific barracks, the mattresses were filled with lice. Corrie was not happy, but Betsy reminded Corrie of 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Although Corrie hesitated at first, she thanked God for the lice.
Although she did not find out at first why she should be thankful for the lice, she later found out that the lice kept the guards from entering that barracks at the camp so that Corrie, Betsy, and the other women there could study the bible without persecution. Wow. So, as I stood there crying in the shower, I began to thank God for the bed bugs. I just repeated it, out loud, over and over, "thank you, Lord, for the bed bugs." Sounds crazy, right? Why would I thank God for gross little measly bed bugs that crawl over my skin and suck my blood while I sleep? Because, He commands us to give thanks in all circumstances. Not just the times when something good happens or things go our way, but all circumstances. Give thanks when you total your car. Give thanks when you get a raise. Give thanks when you are diagnosed with cancer. Give thanks when God provides. Give thanks when a family member passes away. Give thanks when you get that parking spot close to the mall. Give thanks when you lose your job.

Give thanks when you are able to afford that car you need. Give thanks when you don't pass that exam. Give thanks when you are late for work. Give thanks. Give thanks. Give thanks. You may not know the purpose now, and you may not know the purpose ever, but give thanks anyway. God has blessed us with so much, and sometimes blessings come in interesting forms--like bed bug bites or lice.