What’s okay? The news?
The crime figures?
The fact checker results when politicians give speeches?
The most recent Covid statistics and the grief and pain that they represent?
Not a chance
The anxiety ridden discussions that take place on places like Facebook as parents wrestle with big questions about this school year. At home? Online? What about work? My career? My high school and college aged kids – what will this do to their plans?
Last week I had a relative whose job changed drastically, a friend who had to go back to college to bring her daughter home – because she’ll be doing college from the basement rather than at college. Oh, and two families who decided that they were going to home school this coming year rather than send their kids to the local private school. That reduced the number of students at the school by 4.
One of the difficult things about churches, private schools, orphanages, missions is that often you are forced to make business-like decisions in the middle of a charity run organization – and often in very desperate times. So, that school I mentioned above, they removed 4 kids from the local private school – I don’t know, but I would be surprised if that didn’t cost the school $25,000 or more this year. How do they make that up?
And this week, one of the major political parties held their “virtual” convention. I know it’s necessary to finalize the candidate the delegates are supporting, but let’s be real…..
If you watched the speeches and listened to the talking heads analyzing it all 6 ways from everywhere, how much of it can you really believe it is true? I’m working on a very personal piece about that which I promise will be out before the election. It is hard to write because basically, I’m…….. (sorry, not going to give you a sneak peek.)
I’ve had conversations with some of you about the whole concept of righteous anger. If something truly crosses that “line in the sand” for you, then it is okay to be mad about it. It’s okay to be angry that _______ is happening. It’s okay to be upset that the President said _________. It’s okay to be angry at what those who are not following Covid guidelines are doing to the health of so many and frankly the health of our nation.
It’s okay to be angry.
It’s okay to be angry at God because He didn’t give you what you wanted.
It’s okay to be angry at politicians who you feel betrayed their word.
It’s okay to be angry about children who are caught in immigration struggles that POWs shouldn’t even have to face.
Get angry. But then don’t stop there. Don’t just walk around being angry.
It reminds me of the song by the Christian Music Artist, “Mike’s Chair.” It goes something like this:
“Then I shook my fist at heaven and I hollered, ‘God, why don’t you do something?”
And then God said, “I did……I CREATED YOU!!!!!”
We’re going to be talking a lot more about the “do something” part of it, for a number of reasons, but for now, just think about this thought…..
The world is messed up.
God’s okay with us being mad about it.
But he wants us to not be satisfied with being angry but to do something about it.
More to come,
Next problem – the package that the vaccines will be coming in is too big to go in typical carry on luggage. What to do? Three phone calls later, I got to talk to “Captain Jones” in their command center. He authorized the okay for the vaccines to be stored in the ONLY available storage space inside the plane that isn’t typically used. There was one closet by where the flight attendants work that could fit it.
Oh and the “oversized luggage fees” of $425 – American Airlines voluntarily waived them because the vaccines were ending up in Haiti. I hadn’t even had a chance to ask and he said he’d do that.
So, it’s all in place. Wednesday morning, I get a text message from John, “Picked up the vaccines on the way to the airport.” “Boarding plane, all is well.” In the mean time, I’m talking to our people in Haiti who are talking to Junior in Miami. Junior met the plane and around 11:00 Wednesday night, I got a text message, “Met Junior, handoff complete.”
Junior took the vaccines into Haiti Thursday morning and by the end of the day on Thursday, the vaccines were being distributed to a variety of clinics and hospitals that our staff in Haiti know. Those vaccines, in less than 48 hours, went from San Francisco to saving lives in Haiti.
All because of people who went above and beyond with no reward expected but strictly because it was the right thing to do.
A Front Row Seat to God at Work……………..
She ordered the vaccines and we were told it would take about a week to get them in to San Francisco. That would put them arriving in San Francisco on a Wednesday.
Monday morning, John calls me, “Hey Tom, I heard this morning that the vaccines will be delivered on Tuesday! Oh, and the next challenge is that they need to travel temperature controlled – they can’t get too cold or too hot.”
So, I start working on it and talking to our people in Haiti and realize that one of our friends was in Miami and had a seat on a charter plan (because the Port Au Prince airport wasn’t open to regular traffic yet) on Thursday morning. So, in order to get from Miami to Port Au Prince in a timely manner, we had to get the vaccines from San Francisco to Miami by Wednesday night – in other words, around 24 hours after they get delivered to the doctor in San Francisco.
As it turns out, there was one flight per week that went non-stop from San Francisco to Miami. And it flies on Wednesdays. A non-stop flight was crucial to being able to make sure that the vaccines got to Miami on time and got there without being ruined by either heat or by cold.
That flight was on American Airlines – the only airline that consistently runs from Miami to Port Au Prince (at least when the airport is open).
A quick check revealed that there were seats left on that plane.
But who was going to fly with the vaccines? A quick call to my brother who lives about 3 hours from Sacramento – no one in his family could make it. A couple of other calls were made, it was noon on Tuesday and no one was lined up yet.
And then John called me, “Hey Tom, I just talked to my boss and got the okay, I’m taking Wednesday and Thursday off and I’ll fly the vaccines to Miami.”
Wow, not only did he do all of this legwork he’s using vacation time to help an orphanage and people he’s never met.
There already was a worldwide shortage of the tetanus vaccine and now there was sky high demand for it in Haiti. Our normal pharmaceutical companies couldn’t get any for us. So, we turned to the 6 degrees of separation for help.
You know what the 6 degrees are, don’t you? They are the theory that every person in the world is connected to every other person in the world by no more than 6 degrees of separation. So for instance, I have a past banking customer who met Elton John. Elton John has performed for the Queen of England, so in reality, I’m only four degrees from the Queen of England.
It turns out that one of our adoptive moms who lives in Nevada has a friend she went to college with that they keep in touch quite frequently. That friend is in the medical equipment business. That friend has a friend who is a pharmaceutical rep (aka a professional and legal drug dealer.) The pharmaceutical rep lives in San Francisco. One calls the next, the next calls the next. Before long, I get a call back, “Hey Tom, this is “John” and I heard that you might need to get some medicine to Haiti.”
Think the story ends happily from there? Not so fast…
The pharmacy rep worked very hard at finding tetanus vaccines from his normal “sources” and wasn’t able to find any. Finally, he was able to locate an overseas manufacturer who could allocate 2,000 doses to “John’s” company, but only if they could get a written order from a doctor in the United States requesting it and guaranteeing payment for it.
John went to one of his local pediatricians that he works with, explained the situation and the need and she willingly placed the order.
Now imagine how that conversation went, “Dr. Smith, I need you to do me a favor. There’s this orphanage in Haiti that I’ve never met that is run by people I’ve never met but a friend of a friend knows them. They need you to submit an order for 2,000 tetanus vaccines from _______ company. (Estimated cost- $20,000) and guarantee that you’ll pay for it – but don’t worry they’ll reimburse you for it.”
Excuse me but a lot of people would think more than twice about that offer. But she didn’t. Because God was at work.
Okay, this story is going to take a little background so that it makes sense.
First, “jump” to the site of the earthquake with me. What do you see in the destruction? You see sharp metal, you see pieces of rebar sticking out, you see injured limbs, you see people who are missing limbs, it’s not a pretty picture. In actuality, it’s a really really difficult picture.
And it’s not a clean picture. There’s mud, dust, dirt, blood, it’s nasty.
Now I’m not a medical professional, but I know that is a situation that could very easily result in many many infections. I learned very quickly that the biggest risk of infection at that point was from tetanus.
Oh and there’s a world wide shortage of the tetanus vaccine. Great……
If you’re like me, you probably thought that tetanus was a shot you get from your doctor to make sure you didn’t get a minor infection when you stepped on something and cut your foot. It turns out that if you get a full blown case of tetanus, it’s nasty, nasty, nasty….