Shannon Calaguas, MD
A Steward of God’s Blessings
My heart was heavy as I looked into the concerned face of the Syrian refugee woman speaking to the translator, her ailing daughter lying on the couch beside us. “She is asking if you are a doctor.” Caught off guard and realizing my inadequacy, I hesitated before responding. “No, but just give me ten years.”
Still vivid in my memory, this encounter while on a trip to Lebanon as a college student helped to solidify my sense of God’s calling for my life to serve Him through medicine. I quickly scanned through the remainder of the personal statement, which I had written for application to medical school years ago, until my eyes rested on the last sentence—the sentence I was looking for:
I am excited for the day when I am asked if I am a doctor and I am able to respond, “Yes, I am. What can I do for you?”
Pausing to reread it several times, immense gratitude for God’s faithful guidance mixed with a sense of solemn responsibility and indebtedness wells up inside as I reflect on how that anticipated day became reality. As I write this, I am returning from Honduras where I had the opportunity to go on my first international mission trip since graduating from medical school, now as a resident physician and part of a group from the Loma Linda University Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, which has partnered with Drs. Joel and Jennifer Mundall at Hospital Adventista Valle de Angeles (HAVA) for the past decade to provide ENT services and surgeries during annual trips.
The week started off with a full day of preoperative clinic, during which we saw patients previously screened by local physicians and who needed ENT evaluation and possibly surgery. During the rest of the week, we performed over 70 surgeries that spanned the broad scope of ENT, including pediatric, sinus, ear, head and neck, and facial plastics and reconstructive cases.
Many highlights for me came from morning rounds as we interacted with patients who had spent a night in the hospital after their surgeries. The expressions of happiness and gratitude for their much-needed procedures were humbling, as I recognized with more clarity how God is equipping me with practical skills and talents to serve His children and be His hands in the world.
Reflection on my time in Honduras reiterates to me this main lesson: I have nothing except what I have received from God. As eloquently penned by Ellen White, “Whatever we possess—whether it is the gift of money, of houses, of lands, of reasoning powers, of physical strength, of intellectual talents—in this present life, and the blessings of the future life, are placed in our possession as God’s treasures to be faithfully expended for the benefit of man. Every gift is stamped with the cross and bears the image and superscription of Jesus Christ. All things come of God… This must be kept before the people wherever we go—that we possess nothing, can offer nothing in value, in work, in faith, which we have not first received of God and upon which He can lay His hand any time and say, They are Mine—gifts and blessings and endowments I entrusted to you, not to enrich yourself, but for wise improvement to benefit the world” (Faith and Works, pp. 21.2-22.2).
May God grant us the grace to faithfully live out this reality wherever He may have us, joyfully returning in dedicated service the gifts and blessings we’ve received to Him who sacrificed all.
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