We recently had the honor of hosting Dr. Don Ellis from Duke University Medical Center and his teenage Emily. Don has shared some of his thoughts below regarding his time in La Paz.
I recently returned from my third visit to La Paz, Bolivia serving with HOPE worldwide. What made this time a most memorable and treasured experience was the ability to share these moments with my eldest daughter, Emily. It was her first time to venture out of the United States. I will never forget the look of utter joy in Emily’s face as we took off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport toward our destination!
We spent our 10 days in La Paz immersed in various opportunities which allowed us to interact with the poor on a very personal level. The majority of my time involved providing “consultation” as a visiting pediatrician, facilitating medical lectures and clinical workshops. Emily, on the other hand, functioned as a jack-of-all-trades—meeting with families, organizing donations, and serving within hospitals and community programs.
While we were grateful to use our time to serve and our resources to provide donations, a sober reality remained in the back of our minds. There would be nearly as much deprivation when we left as when we arrived. There are still overwhelming needs in Bolivia. Children are still being abandoned, abused, and neglected; women still experience domestic violence; people cannot access vital resources like healthcare, education, and nutrition. Hopelessness prevails in many hearts and homes.
So we asked ourselves, what is the solution?
Do we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by all that we cannot do?
Or do we focus on what we can do? If that latter is our decision….then the question becomes “How can I use my talents, gifts, and energy to love one person at a time?”
I realize that not many of us in history are called to impact the entire world, but every follower of Christ has been given a specific calling: to love the person right next to us, giving to others what we have been freely given. One MORE person who chooses to serve may result in one LESS person feeling alone and hopeless.
And I can do one more thing. I can take the hand of someone younger than myself, the next generation and teach them how to love, to serve and how to not give into discouragement when the needs seem overwhelming. As I (we) do this, loving the one in front of us and teaching others to do the same, maybe, however gradually, we will start to see a difference. Maybe the world will begin to shift every so slightly towards something better. Something that looks much more like God intended: a world of mercy, justice, equality and love.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
― Edward Everett Hale
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”
Thank you, Don, for your, and your daughter Emily’s, selfless service to the people of La Paz. Thank you also for sharing some of your thoughts with us. Thank you for seeing “the one” and being determined to demonstrate the love of Jesus however possible!
If you would like to learn more about how you can volunteer or provide support to our programs here in La Paz, please contact us!