My Story Continues….
To those who read my first blog back in December, more from: A Servant’s Call; the journey continues.
Reflection on one’s life at age 62, can be quite sobering, somewhat disappointing, but also anxiousness arises within. A desire to do it better; maybe bigger, crowd pleasing events, revivals on a massive scale; God honoring masterpieces…An explosion of enormous proportions!
Then I think of Jesus: Born in a cave, laid in an animal’s trough, a meager carpenter of no renown for 30 years (can you imagine how flawless one of His bedside tables must have been). And when His ministry began, choosing to teach only 12 disciples, just twelve. Its what His kingdom was all about. He opted to speak in parables to the masses, this created confusion for many for their needs were on a human scale (personal healings on an earthly kingdom). Thesewere not His wishes. His wishes were to obey His Heavenly Father and for us to follow Him.
So I sit and reflect as tears weld in my eyes of allthe opportunities I missed. 62 years of not hearing that still, quiet voice calling meto be His servant; of not being able to obtain a “do over”. How many times do we ask for a do over? We cannot just reset time like a video game. I wonder at what my life could have been like; should have been like and I have come to the conclusion, with His help, that I’m still here on this earth. Presentedwith new opportunities, He continues His desire to manifest Himself in me and with me. This desire hasn’t stopped. Oh how His disappointments weigh heavy on me,thoseburdens I struggle to shake off. And yet, He never waivers, never rebukes past sins, or past failures. He is ready to show me what’s next and just like that, my life has purpose again. People are placed in my path, again. Situations continue to arise again that I can either act onor not. Stand up…or sit passive. Follow Him or do as I see fit.
And with all that being said, I find myself drifting back to that airport in San Jose, Costa Rica 12 years ago. That day I flew from Traverse City, Michigan to the San Jose airport and met Delynn Hoover, director of Pura Vida Missions for the very first time, (this was one of those times I actually listened and obeyed His calling). Lets reflect back… (Ifyou have not read my first blog posted by my missionary friend Kimi Booher Molina from last December,maybe now is a good time to do so).
As you may recall, the seniors from Traverse City Christian High school and chaperones- (myself included)flew to Costa Rica embarking on a week filled with high expectations of singing, praying with the locals, painting, laying cement for a parking lot at a church in Heredia, learning skits to perform in La Cuenca (a squatters field of mostly Nicaraguans transplanted from their homeland) and of course myself who had decided to yes, follow my calling of saving all their teeth, or so I thought (ActuallyI didn’t really know what I thought to be honest).
We entered the airport, and cruised throughcustoms. This relieved my anxiety of getting my instruments and dental supplies throughthe checkpoint and we walked into what Ican only describe as mass hysteria of bodiesand baggage. Porters screaming to take your bags, taxi drivers in your face competing to whisk you off to parts unknown, no one speaking English, and nary a familiar face! Here I am pulling two check bags of dental supplies and clothing, all while caring a third carry-on,trying to watch over all 28 seniors (who all seem to have acquired ADHD,Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisor… woo, check this out). Also beingshort in stature, so vision at abare minimum.
Wow! Just Wow! Instant lunacy!
Well… God must have been enjoying this scene to its fullest. Oh He must have had His smiley face on at that chaotic point in time. Mass hysteria is all I could see as we push and shove our way through this tiny airport.
I begin to hear this voice calling out in English ‘Tom, Tom, Tom”. I made eye contact with this voice and encounter a mountain of a man, Jeremiah Johnson of sorts, and I keep pushing through. After all he wasn’t calling my name. (Yes Nonie-my wife- I should have looked at a picture of Delynn before leaving). I must add here that if you haven’t met Delynn Hoover he can be quite the intimidating fella. A stocky gentleman standing at least 6ft. tall (I’m 5’6with shoes on), full beard at the time, baldhead, and quite robust is how I’ll describe his girth (Delynn forgive me if you are reading this). Well after making eye contact I quickly looked away- after all missionaries certainly don’t look like this, at least not the ones I imagine when I hear and read about them.
Then it dawned on me, one of the other chaperones names was Tom, Tom Broderick. So not knowing what to do next I just started yelling “Steve, Steve, Steve” which prompted Delynn to look back at me and yell, “Steve?” so I yelled, Delynn? You get the picture- we instantly bear hugged- Delynnbecause, well, that’s what he does and me because I was relieved I knew someone, sort of!
Here’s the moment that ‘God thing’ took over again because with God we’ve all heard before it’s a marathon not a sprint; something humans don’t stomach well. After our greetings (while still speaking loudly in a overcrowded airport) Delynnproceeded to tell me that I wasn’t going to perform dentistry for the people there. He explained something about the government shutting down the clinic I was going to use so there was no equipment, no compressor,no hand pieces, no suction, no chair, no… Iquit listening at no dentistry for me… I’m standing in the middle of the airport with 2 suitcases full of supplies and in shock, utter shock! I couldn’t even get mad because… well I was in shock. God answered my prayers, sending me to a world I knew nothing about, and then just like thatslammed the door in my face!! All I could think of to say was Delynn, If God wants me here doing dental work it will happen”. Down deep inside my soul though I was crushed and hurt and mad and lost and thinking how utterly foolish I was, Steve Morgan, to think God would talk to me, answer me. After all, who was I to attractGod’s attention? Yeah really. I told Delynn that God would work out a way, but I was just a foolish old man at the age of 50. I tried to keep my wavering faith, but it took quitea blow.I went to the mission house trying to stay as positive as I could for all the seniors, with a smile on my face,but inside I was a defeated soul with all sorts of doubts. Myfaith had taken a major hit, MAJOR!
Fast forwarding to the following day,I was working with a group of seniors practicing a skit to perform later in the week on the life of Jesus when Delynn drove up in Brutus (his old Jeep). He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride and see someone. Not knowing anyone in Costa Rica, my curiosity was peaked so I asked him who and for what purpose. With a smile on his face he began explaining to me, he had talked with a gentleman from the church our group was working with about myself wishing to do some dentistry for the community. This man knew an acquaintance that knew of a young lady who had some sort of dental machine at her home.She was doing fillings and cleanings and extractions. I asked if she was a dentist and Delynn said no, but she may have had a year of training at a dental school before she dropped out. He said she just worked on neighbors and relatives.
All I could think of was “Welcome to Costa Rica”. I laughed and said let’s go. My hopes were starting to rise, but didn’t know what we would find. I asked Delynn many questions on the way, but he couldn’t answer most of them. He did tell me her name was Melissa Kim,around age 25.
Well, we arrived and Melissa just happened to be restoring a tooth for a neighbor when we walked in. She was using a small transportable dental machine with a small built in compressor to run a high-speed and slow speed drill and suction. I was flabbergasted. This young lady was actuallyrestoring teeth with very little training. She explained through a translator she had been in dental school, but like so many after one year the money ran out, so just decided to borrow some money from her mother and bought this machine and more or less learned on the run. After an hour of attempting to rent her mobile unit for the week, she finally relented under the condition she would work with me. I readily accepted her offer and my international dental mission had begun. In less than 24 hours the Lord completely turned my life upside down… twice. From apprehensive anticipation on the flight over, then the bowels of despair and doubt then an amazing finish whose script only the Lord could write. That week will go down as maybe my closest encounter with God I have ever had and changed my relationship with Him forever… forever… Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
In the coming months I look forward to sharing more adventures with those who care to read. My relation with Kimi and Raul started a few years later, so there’s much more to tell. I have encountered what seems a lifetime of experiences with my Savior Jesus Christ and hope to share more of them with you…