I've been back 'home' for a couple of days . . . and finally left my unpacking to go say my hellos up at the hospital.
As I made my typical morning commute, I was stopped nearly every three steps by another workman laying covering dirt over new water pipes around the property. After the initial gasp once I was recognized, we'd go through the regular welcome-back greetings: how was the road . . . how is your mother . . . and your father . . . and your fourth cousin, twice removed . . . and how is the cold season back in America . . . and how is your father's house . . . and have you come back alone, or did you FINALLY get married, because we have been praying that you hurry up and stop wasting any more time (tick-tock, tick-tock).
When I finally made my way off of the residential half of the compound, I found myself gazing upon a brand new place . . . one I hadn't left.
'Ina asabiti?' (Where is the hospital?) I asked a passerby . . . who looked at me funny.
'Chun!' he pointed, 'There!'
'INA???' (WHERE???) I questioned again.
'CHUN!!!' (THERE!!!) he pointed again at the pile of ruins that once was West Wing and the hallway that contained my office.
The long, raised cement walkway that joins the new Post-Surgical Ward to what remains of the hospital-we-formerly-knew, framed the piles of mud-brick rubble. Half of my hospital has been torn down to make way for the new Obstetrics Ward.
My heart sank a little . . . so many memories mixed into that heap . . . laughter and tears . . . joy and sorrow . . . but as I rounded the corner and made my way up the new ramp that will lead patients to the therapy gym, I began to think about the hope that our new facility will bring.
It is easy to forget about hope when the scent of death greets you from outside the door . . . it's easy to believe that hoping is a wasted energy when three severely burned kiddos are wheeled naked in front of you . . . it's easy to walk away from hope when it seems that the only thing to have changed is the walls around you.
But as I walked into the new facility, I was met with smiles, hugs, handshakes and friendship. I had come back . . . it didn't matter what I had done or didn't do before I left . . . what was important was that I had returned.
All of my doubts about hope faded as the joy of my return was extended. I hadn't just come to start . . . I've now come back to continue . . . and today that was appreciated and expressed.
'You've come back! There is happiness!' These are the words that have echoed through my ears today. And I will need their reminder over the months and years to come.
This work is not easy . . . but if I had wanted easy, I would never have come to Galmi.