I'm a little late getting this up this morning but I think you'll be blessed by our guest today....
A Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest
As a doctor and a mom, I admit that I tend to think that “actions speak louder than words,” unconsciously valuing the tangible and practical. When a baby is struggling to breathe or a toddler is burning with fever, I respect the importance of decisive efforts. Hands on, listening, prodding, dosing, reviving. And as a public-health practitioner in Africa for more than two decades, I am grateful for the very palpable service of dairy goats and corn-soy-mix, the cups and spoons, the antibiotics and the seeds. Real help for real bodies.
Thoughts, by contrast, can sound ethereal, on a Thursday or any other day.
But one thing I learned in my public health training was that all action proceeds from belief. Thoughts determine who decides to bring their malnourished child for help. Thoughts prompt one set of parents to send their daughter to nursing school, so there is someone to notice that the orange hair and scaling skin signal danger. Thoughts went into the budget of an NGO to prioritize the purchase of a weighing scale or a bag of grain. Thoughts, in other words, precede any of the concrete actions that spell rescue.
This means that choosing life requires a wrestling with thoughts first, a subtle shift in assumptions about what is possible and what is good.
Which brings us to the importance of narratives, reading, dreaming, imagination, and story. Our earliest thoughts about how the world fits together begin to form and make sense around the stories we know and love. For parents who have lost other children from inevitable hunger, or for young women who never dreamed of going to school, a story of something different or better might prompt them to seek a new way. For donors in a country far removed from these realities, a story might generate generosity. The best books enable us to see life through new eyes, to realize the narrowness of our experience and the wonder of the world.
This month I had the fun of publishing my first young-adult novel, A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest. This event celebrates thought on two levels. First, in the book the protagonist is a young boy named Mu, without a lot of hope for change in a life that most of us would consider pretty dismal. But a message delivered by a mysterious chameleon starts to challenge his thoughts about his identity, and slowly he grasps onto a bigger story that gives him hope. Without a change in thoughts, he would not have sought a change in his difficult position. Secondly, the first readers of the book were my own kids, who drank in a story that made some sense of their own world as they grew up in an African border town. So the book works on the thoughts of readers as well, to build empathy and expand their horizons.
This Thursday, take note of what thoughts motivate your actions, and feed those thoughts with a good book!
What wonderful advice from Ms. Myhre....
A Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest can be purchased at Amazon.
J.A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked alongside her husband, Dr. Scott Myhre, for more than two decades. She earned her medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric training at Northwestern University’s Children’s Memorial Hospital. She also received a Master’s in Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Myhre works in the AIC Kijabe Hospital, which provides healthcare in the name of Jesus to the vulnerable people of East Africa. She has given a special focus in her work to HIV prevention and nutrition and has invested heavily in training emerging indigenous leaders. Myhre is currently spending one year living and traveling in the U.S., telling others about her work in Africa. She and her husband have four children, all of whom attend university in the States.