I have done something odd.
I have returned from Costa Rica and left something behind.
My heart is missing, and though I have been loving my ICU job at the hospital and spending time with friends as I have been hurriedly working on the detailed, cumbersome, legal documentation for our 501c3 IRS status, learning a tremendous amount in the process, I have sensed its absence.
It is as if a huge part of me is missing.
I will tell you where my heart is. My heart is in Costa Rica.
My heart is 4,200 miles away, in Costa Rica.
With the HIV patient I spoke with who paid out of pocket at a private hospital to get treatment because the doctor at the public hospital was discriminating against him, under-diagnosing (mis-diagnosing) his health condition (insert in here what you will the motives you can conjecture as to why a competent medical professional might do that....)
My heart is with the former sex worker who went to a infectious disease specialist hoping to get help and instead got ridiculed and talked about behind his back (I watched it happen) but didn't get the treatment he needed (again, your guess might be as good as mine here depending on why that happened.)
My heart is with David [not his real name,] who, because of addiction had acquired AIDS and whose family rarely came to visit him, who perked up far more when Olga, our nurse, and I daily and hourly came in his room to care for him, before he died. (I am not disclosing publicly identifying information here; while I am thinking poignantly about a specific individual, there are, unfortunately, many who fit this profile.) He was a lonely man who in many ways was judged and condemned by his society and community in a country where HIV stigma is significant and who realized that we, as his care team, showed up every day for him because we WANTED to be there....
I wish I could introduce you to the many more people I have interacted with who have been the recipients of stigma because of their HIV/AIDS in this beautiful Latin country.
(What a beautiful people; how easy it is for anyone to not realize what their actions are causing....)
I am currently working with my Tica (Costa Rican) friend Veronica Vega on a project to start putting more comprehensive support systems in place for our AIDS/HIV patients in Costa Rica. I can't say more, because everything is new, and we will have our work cut out for us. But Veronica loves Jesus, and I love Jesus, and we believe that Jesus' heart is for these HIV/AIDS patients, and we want to show them God's love.
I feel that there is so much to do. What can one girl from Seattle, Washington, and one girl from San Jose, Costa Rica, accomplish?
I look at my upcoming support-raiser again to raise support for our Summer 2015 LoveAIDS trip, and the many relationships we need to build across the city of San Jose, and I gulp, speechless.
(I forget that God has already been putting many relationships in place.
I forget that LoveAIDS already has an open invite for Summer 2015 and are eagerly expected back to help further the work....)
But then I look to my big God. "With God, everything is possible," said Jesus. (Matthew 19:26)
With God, everything is possible.
"The love of Christ compels us...." (2nd Corinthians 5:14)
(Anne's next trip to Costa Rica is scheduled and less than 3 months away, for June 20th, 2015.)
Loving AIDS Patients, Loving Jesus:
Caring for the Medical Needs of AIDS Patients & Sex Workers in Resource-Poor Countries
Ingrid Anne Stavrica
LoveAIDS would like to remind our partners & public that we are limited in both the stories and photos we can share do to needing to protect patient confidentiality, complying with patient privacy laws originating within both the U.S and the countries we work with.