Difficult Choices in Mission

Monica Liddle – who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle and was one of several missionaries who presented at the Global Ministries Missionworks! conference in October 2012 in Cleveland:

Monica Liddle – who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle and was one of several missionaries who presented at the Global Ministries Missionworks! conference in October 2012 in Cleveland:

In one of the world's most impoverished nations, the stark realities of hunger and disease are often compounded by wrenching ethical questions. Just ask Monica Liddle. “One time a 5-year-old boy came in pale, listless and undernourished,” says Liddle, who with her husband, served as a Global Ministries missionary for three years in East Timor. “I was sure he had cancer.” Monica explains her dilemma: “I can send him 5½ hours away where he's never been, his family has no connection, the language is different, and he might die anyway. Or I could say to his mother, 'Take your baby home and take care of him for the rest of his life.’”

A member of Peace UCC in Duluth, Minn., Liddle laments the far-reaching lack of basic resources in East Timor. “Diagnostic tools are very limited. From our clinic, a patient would have to ride about 2½ hours just to have an X-ray taken. They would have to sit in a crowded minivan, so if the patient has TB, they are spreading it to the community in transit.”

Liddle speaks in awe of the five Timorese women with whom she worked in the clinic for three years.

“None had medical training, none spoke English. They were just hungry to learn what I could share with them. And I was hungry to learn how to live in a place with no electricity, where you have to carry your water.

The awe in Liddle's voice – on her face, in her eyes – magnifies.

“And how can they seem like they’re happy? How can they hang around laughing and having fun every single day? I learned so much from them about things which we Americans could never begin to make any sense of.”

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