Written by Dr. Bridget Hurry, Otino Waa Co-Director
Someone recently said to me, “It sounds like you are grieving.”
Her comment was appreciated but it also seemed so very obvious.I had just passed the third anniversary of my mom, dad, and aunt’s unexpected deaths.I was sitting next to my dear friend who had lost her husband just 8 months previously.I was sitting in the basement of my home church for the few hours of shared space- before I got back on a plane to serve in Africa and they continued to live life as I had known it here in USA.
“No, no, no. I am not talking about any of that Bridget.It sounds to me like you are grieving medicine.”
It sounded so bizarre echoing off the church’s folding chairs and paneling…and yet I knew it was true.
I loved the study of medicine and devoured my books and assignments at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine.I advanced to the Obstetrics and Gynecology residency program at Indiana University and although I can’t say I loved those years, I did survive them.It was here in Indiana where I met my now husband, got rooted into a great home church, and started exploring the world of international missions alongside my ever-growing private practice.
If you asked me then what I wanted to do with my life, it was to be the hands and feet of Jesus ANYWHERE He asked me to go.I was a present day Isaiah and I was committed and ready to go wherever He asked.
“Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send?And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I.Send me!’” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)
I didn’t answer naively either.By the time my family and I moved to Northern Uganda in 2012, I had served in a short term capacity in over a dozen countries.I had painted churches in Honduras, built homes in Mexico, treated leprosy in Uganda, dysentery in Haiti, and fibroids in Bolivia.I had even met the fullness of God’s majesty and His all-consuming peace face to face in Kenya—as a grown woman died with her head in my lap on our way to the hospital.I could make NO sense of this seemingly wasteful tragedy as I revisited all of my training, studies, or previous experiences. But I knew God was good and God was God and He ministered to me in a way I had never experienced before.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.
It was soon after my time living in Kenya that I knew I would one day return to the African continent.I didn’t know it would be with my amazing husband and two cute kids, but He did and His plans are truly perfect.He knew we would oversee one the best ministries on the planet (biased, maybe), homeschool, teach, preach, and everything else that is required in a day in the life at Otino Waa Ministries.And He knew we could do it… because He is good and He is God.
He also knew things I never saw coming.He knew I couldn’t know about them just yet… or I might not have ever followed Him here in obedience.
- He knew I would sleep on the floor of a 7 y/o Ugandan child who I loved as my own with a 104F fever, malaria, and seizures.God would hear my pleas to not take this one, not tonight, not yet.
- He knew I would hold a month old baby in the morgue of an international hospital and cry out in pain that erupted from my core.God would breathe His comfort on me and cry alongside me in that cold, cold room.
- He knew I would treat a 23 year old HIV+ mother with stage IV cervical cancer and hold her mother’s hand just 6 months later as they returned from her burial.God would use me as an advocate for other mothers with cervical cancer to stop the terminal cycle of this disease in our community.
- He knew I would deliver a baby Bridget, a baby Clark, a baby Paul, and a baby Doctor Bridget.God would have them smile, spit, and pee on me to remind me that life can be messy but it is always worth the mess.
- He knew I would see the smiles of a recovering student after his treatment for a serious heart condition.God would orchestrate the professional collaboration for successful heart surgery to take place here in Uganda.
- He knew I would hold back the floodgate of tears as I said goodbye to another student who died suddenly after her battle with a serious health condition.God would gently remind me of the “borrowed time” she had, pain-free, from His love, care, and provision she experienced through my obedience to be His hands and feet.
Truth be told, I did like practicing medicine in America better.There were days that were challenging, and it had its own share of complicated cases, but it was also fun.If there was a surgery that had intraoperative challenges, I knew I could call a subspecialist.If the patient’s complicated case wouldn’t respond to the usual treatment regimens, we always had consultants we could call upon.And no matter how close I became to my patient, they never captivated my heart as my children, “otino waa”, have managed to do here.
So, what is one to do when you observe a grief brewing in your heart?I think it’s best to do what has always worked for me in the past.Call upon the LORD.Obey.Trust.And wait… wait in the grief that He alone can redeem. After all, God is good and God is God, amen?