International Ministries

Stealing Bandaids from the Bateyes

June 23, 2012 Journal

Hello again!

Last week, I was clumsily thrashing my hand around in my less than tidily-packed backpack, looking for my camera, when I happened upon my razor instead. A shock of pain flew up my arm and I pulled it out, only to find a gash on my finger that was beginning to bleed profusely. Being a doctor’s daughter, I shook my head at my clumsiness, and went to wash the wound off in the sink… but the sensibleness ended there, as I had forgotten to pack any first aid whatsoever. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten such a thing, and those that know me well are probably just as shocked, seeing as I typically need about a half dozen band-aids per week on account of my being an absolute klutz.

Fortunately, there were a few nurses around that week and a large amount of medical supplies packed and ready to go to the bateyes for the next clinic, so I knew that I would be able to treat and bandage it easily. Still, I felt almost like a thief as I sneaked into a trunk and snatched the first band-aid that I saw. I put it on and proceeded to walk around feeling terrible guilty with spongebob squarepants dancing around my finger. Not the best choice of band-aid if I was trying to be inconspicuous about it. It was just one, I told myself, it’s not that big of a deal.

It really wasn’t a big deal at all, but I suppose it was the principle of it that made me feel as if I was stealing from the bateyes. One band-aid turned into two, and then three and four as the week went on and I managed to scuff myself up even more while working at the hospital construction site (Again, no surprise there).  The whole thing was really very silly, but a comment that one of the team members made when I tried to hide a particularly garish neon band-aid under the table cloth at dinner really got me thinking. She said, “You can’t help the bateyes when you’re banged up and bleeding, so you might as well make sure you help yourself first.”

She is totally right, and not just about my finger, which, let’s be honest, was actually “only a flesh wound” (Monty Python reference… for those of you of older generations). Regardless of whether you are on a missions trip or you’re just being a shoulder for a friend, it’s always absolutely essential to remember that you cannot help people if you are not okay yourself. I began to realize that over the past semester at college, but it only really stuck when I got that silly little cut on my finger, that, if it had gotten infected, may have prevented me from being able to continue hauling buckets of sand for the construction team. I smiled at the bright band-aid on my finger, as it symbolized a smack of understanding that I had previously ignored.

Recovered, happy, and back to work at El Buen Samaritano Hospital! =]

I know that it’s hard for those of us who work or grew up in foreign countries to look at ourselves as more important than others, and it’s okay, perfectly admirable in fact, to be selfless a lot of the time… it’s just not okay when you’re doing it to the detriment of your own health. We have to look at ourselves first, and ensure that we are physically and emotionally capable of the helping the people that we are trying to help, and if we are not, then our first and foremost responsibility should be to ourselves. In the long run, that’s the most beneficial thing to both parties, because the more fit and ready you are to give aid to fellow companion, the more useful you actually will be.

I hope and pray that God will keep reminding me of this in my life, because far too many times I have thrown my own problems on the backburner to help a friend, only to find that they had boiled over and caused more pain than they would have in the first place. But alas, such is life: an endless struggle of selfishness versus selflessness, and the constant striving for a fair balance between the two.  I need to spend some time figuring that all out at some point, but first things first, I’ve gotta go tend to this sunburn on my shoulders… I wonder if the medical team brought any aloe vera?

Your Clumsy Missions Volunteer,


Read more entries from Cassie at her blog