Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The Homeless Man and Me
Volume 3, Issue 10
July 8, 2008
-The Homeless Man and Me-
…as a man comes, so he departs…
When all else fails, just roll with the punches. But what happens when the punches keep coming and you can no longer get up? This is how I feel some days, especially recently. Beaten and bruised, not sure where to go or what to do next.
In July 2007 I interviewed for physician assistant positions at four different locations in Oregon. Each job sounding more exciting and full of potential than the next. I was ecstatic about the possibility of returning to the Northwest, and I was offered a job at each location. However, I chose to stay in Baltimore for personal reasons, and I do not regret that decision what so ever, but I passed up my chance to work in underserved communities in Oregon, hoping that some day I would get back to the Northwest.
When I returned from Uganda in March 2008 I began exploring opportunities in the Northwest. I was somewhat limited, as I plan to return to Africa in June 2009, so I could only work for less than a year, which left me with locum tenens (traveling PA) positions with short term contracts. I settled on a job and began the WA state licensing process at the end of April. According to the WA state Department of Health, their website states clearly that it usually takes 4-6 weeks to receive your license. No problem, but just to be safe, the agency I am working for designed my contract for me to start working July 1st – about a month later than I had hoped to begin working again, but not too big a deal, just more time to visit family and friends.
Then June rolls around and a few days before I am to begin my job in Washington I get a phone call informing me that my license has not come through yet, so my start date is being pushed back to July 7th. OK, I can wait another week, especially since many of my relatives were out for a cousin’s wedding. Well, two days before I am scheduled to leave the second time, my bags already packed and ready to go, I receive another call telling me that my license is still not in, and according to the WA state medical board, it may take another 4-8 weeks! WHAT! HUH? What started out to be a 4-6 week process may be a 12-16 week endeavor! Apparently the WA state medical board is very backed up and short staffed, so people like me bear the burden. Couldn’t they, or the agency I am working with, have told me some of this information sooner?
So now I have many options. I could stay in Ohio and just wait for my WA license to come through. I could get a job in Maryland, where I am currently licensed, or I could work for the government in any state, as any state license is acceptable for government positions. However, any new position would involve a few days to weeks of verification and checking references.
Some friends who live on the Oregon coast just asked if I would want to stay with them for a few weeks and help watch their kids. I could be a live in nanny/soccer-mom of sorts while I am waiting on my license. I love this family and they have been very helpful to me over the years, plus they could really use the help. It wouldn’t be the best paying job but it would be quality time with people I love, and considering I am hopefully leaving for a long-term commitment to Africa in June 2009,it may be my last chance to really be with them. On the other hand, I would really like to start working again and need as much medical experience as I can get. Decisions, decisions….
Truly, most days I love my life and am thankful that I have choices and options. Many of my friends in Uganda deeply desire to work and desperately need some type of income, but there is no work available to them. Children are left to starve as what little resources there are never seem to stretch far enough. When living in Bundibugyo people would ask me for money over and over again. Though I hated the constant barrage of people seeking money, who’s to blame? If there are no jobs how do I expect people to take care of their families? Deep questions that have no easy solution, but must be considered in an effort to aid others.
So, how have I been living with no steady income at the present and immensely large, eye-popping school loans to pay? Only by the grace of God. Generosity of friends and family has allowed me to live rent free since returning to America. I’ve almost completely drained my financial resources but should be able to sustain myself until I start my job in Washington (assuming I actually do start working relatively soon!!!). When I started working at Johns Hopkins I had $400 dollars to my name, but somehow I always had enough and all my needs were met. I think I am approaching a similar situation.
I am not sure why my efforts to return to the Northwest have been thwarted thus far, three times over in the past year. Maybe God has other plans for me. Maybe I am not supposed to be back in the Northwest, or maybe not just yet. Maybe I am supposed to help my friends in Oregon for a few weeks, or maybe there is some other adventure waiting that I don’t even know about yet. Whatever the case, I know God will not abandon or forsaken me. Wherever he leads, I pray I am faithful and strong enough to follow. I know he has a plan and a purpose – I just wish I knew what it was. Patience, young Scott, patience dear boy.
I suppose my travels and adventures over the past several years have revealed to me the impact of everyday decisions, how one wrong move can lead to poverty and homelessness, how important a network of family and friends is to catch you if you fall, and how the homeless person on the street is not that much different than me. Anyone of us could have been, or still could be, that person begging for money, in America, Uganda, or elsewhere. I don’t know what the future holds in store, but I am thankful for what I have and where I have been. I’ll keep trying to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation”. Lest I not forget that “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Ecclesiastes 5 rings true for me today more than ever before
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 As a dream comes when there are many cares,
so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.
15 Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?
17 All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.