Tuesday, September 04, 2007

To receipt or not to receipt

Today I started the process of getting a Zambian drivers license and one of the required steps was a trip to our local hospital. I was kind of intrigued by this idea, as I had never been to a hospital in Zambia yet, and was anxious to see one (though not anxious to be treated in one).

The hospital itself was a small building, by American standards, but quite large by Zambian. It was about four stories high, and like everything in Zambia, built of concrete block. After entering the outpatient clinic (making my way past a line of mothers sitting outside, nursing their sick children, and a man laying across the entry way) I approached what appeared to be a check-in desk. It was stacked high with papers and to the right was a man taking money. I handed them the form from the Road and Transportation Safety Something or Other and was told to sit in the chair next to the man taking the money. I was promptly told that the fee for getting this forme signed by the doctor was 50,000 kwatcha (or about $12). However, I was also informed that if I wanted a receipt, it would take about 3 days to get all the necessary items completed because I would have to go to the nurses station and then on to each of the places on the form to have these things (eye sight, hearing, reflexes etc.) checked out, and it would be a very slow process indeed. But, if I didn’t need a receipt, then I could get the form signed in a matter of minutes because if I didn’t need a receipt, it was explained, then there would be no need to actually have any of these things checked. The doctor could just sign them off and I would be on my way.

Huh? It took me about half a second to realize what was going on. The receptionist was trying to make a little extra money and by not giving me a receipt, he could just pocket it. Somehow, he had organized a scheme to get these documents signed and avoid doing any of the things that were supposedly being signed for. I have to admit, that for a second, I was tempted. Lines can be long and slow moving here and the thought of a bypass was enticing. But immediately my mind went back to the scriptures I had read that morning from Psalm 72. It is a Psalm of Solomon, that begins with Solomon praying that God would help his reign to be characterized by the justice and righteousness of God

Endow the king with your justice, O God,

The royal son with your righteousness.

I remembered thinking, as I read that psalm this morning, what a contrast there was between the way Solomon started, and the way Solomon finished. How his heart here in Psalm 72 seems so right, so humble. And of course his finish, his end, was anything but right and anything but humble. Somewhere along the way, he began to make compromises and little compromises always lead to big ones.

So, in the end, I told the receptionist “No, I will need a receipt.” And, as it turned out, I visited all the necessary stops and was out, signed paper in hand, in less than an hour. And so my prayer today, is that our ministry, our work, our very lives here will be characterized by justice and righteousness – and not the kind that we are capable of, but the kind of justice and righteousness that comes only from God.

1 comment:

Jess J. Bousa said...


I am proub of you, you made the right choice. God is in control. The Bible also says, "The heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord.

God's got you back all the way to the bank, and you can take that to the Bank!!!

Remember, not to despise the day of small things. All it takes is one conversation and you can spread your influence nation wide.

Is there any TV or radio? You never know what God has prepared.

can't wait to see