Love is spoken here, says a discrete sign above the fireplace mantel in Balas huge living room a short, objective summary of SMIs first week. First week? Isnt that crazy! It seems like weve been here and known each other for so much longer than that. There is just something indescribably good about indulging in the sense community, trust and vulnerability that comes from being part of Gods family. Hour long worship sessions, Wissahickon park adventures, Manayunk river strolls are just the beginning of how much joy and fun (and ridiculousness) comes from sharing space, time, food and experiences with each other. Quite frankly, one of the best weeks of my life.

That doesnt come to say that there havent been some really hard moments over the last couple of days. During institution day on Thursday, Pastor Bryan Stoudt talked about how the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). People are stuck in their sinful patterns and change is hard, if not borderline impossible. This deep sense of brokenness encompasses a lot of what weve been wrestling with this week.

Medicine is full of death. As we go around the Hunting Park neighborhood, we walk into people lives, problems and deepest fears. One of the men we came across this week had been shot in the leg two weeks ago (which he told us in a frighteningly casual way). One of his neighbors, a mother of six, fears for the life of her children. She is terrified that her family might get caught up her neighbors mess. No wonder something as ridiculous as 70-80% of the HP population is hypertensive and a very high number of the residents suffers from diabetes and obesity. Who wouldnt?

Today, Loren (Dr.Chen) talked about the idea that people end up in dire straits as a result of poor decisions in response to hard circumstances. Thus, in order to really take care of people, we must learn how to listen to people, understand their pain and what has lead them to it. He shared that, as future health care providers, we must really move towards learning how to extend compassion and affirm our patients value as human beings created in Gods image for his own glory. After all, isnt that the greatest news we could possibly share with our patients? Just like in 1 Kings 3:9 we pray: So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?

And so this last week has really reminded me of the bittersweet taste of life. Brilliantly stated in 1 Corinthians 4:7: we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. Thank God for his ingenious ways of dealing with us! As we now transition into our second week, I ask God to continue giving us the humility and peace of spirit to remind ourselves of that verse again and again and again. I would ask that you would pray the same for us.

~ Bea

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