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Updated: Oct 9, 2021

Day 23: Humility

"For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:12 Today, I give thanks for humility. A humble person who serves will never lack honor, favor, recognition, or opportunity. A long time ago, I decided that I wanted to live my life in a way that would be pleasing unto God. Trust me, it has not been easy! I'm not perfect and neither do I have it ALL together at any time, but I want to try my best to have integrity, a good name, great work ethic, and to serve those I know and love. To be truly honest, I have always wanted to do things as if I'm doing them as a gift to God and I have never wanted to give him slop. This is probably why I consume an "all-in" nature about most things in my life and am so whole-hearted about my duties and responsibilities and pay attention to the most minute of details. Most people who really know me, know that I am way more comfortable being and helping in the background. I like and prefer to be very low key and just me. I'm usually on front street not because I want to be but because no one else volunteers to do the task, and the tasks always have to get done. I'm not at all scared to do the grunt work and get my hands dirty to develop and craft something into greatness; in fact, I love to be hands on and get my hands dirty (IN THE BACKGROUND!) However, it's so funny how scripture says no one can keep a light hidden under a bushel. It seems that no matter how much I try to get comfortable in and stay in the background, God always seems to have different plans for me to be noticed. My aunt always told me "Melissa, be careful how you live because you never know who is watching." I've always remembered and absorbed this advice but didn't understand it's real life application until more recently. I was privileged to be part of a team that successfully brought the first delegation of Cuban doctors to Chicago, Illinois to do an assessment and provide suggestions for improvement of one of its maternal-infant clinics. There was a great deal of "impossibility" to the task and a great amount of behind the scenes preparation for over a year that went into fulfilling the mission. But, we pulled it off. The culmination of the mission involved organizing a maternal-infant conference in downtown Chicago. If I can say so, the conference was amazing and a huge success. Just about everyone you can think of who are heavy hitters in the world of maternal infant health was there. We also had representation from the Cuban Embassador and staff from the US embassy, a host of UIC administration, staff, and students as well as members of the Chicago community wanting to learn more. I was one of the conference speakers and gave a presentation mentioning that one of the ways to curb maternal-infant mortality in urban communities was by increasing opportunities for youth of color, from those same urban communities to become medical doctors, who would then address the concern within the community. I tied my medical school alma mater, The Latin American School of Medicine, in Havana Cuba into the presentation and mentioned the free scholarships available to US citizen to train at the medical school. I should preface what I am writing by saying that whenever I'm officially invited to speak some where, especially about Cuba, I feel that it is my duty to be an ambassador for Cuba and to tell the truth about my experience there, in hopes to dispel many of the lies US propaganda perpetuates about Cuba. I have some really strong, loving sentiments about Cuba and Fidel, and with boldness, I declare them, even in a national conference setting, whether people want to hear them or not. Before I started my presentation, I spoke from the heart and reverenced the many ancestors who came before me and whose backs I have stood on to be where I am. One of my ancestors reverenced was "Papa Fidel," thanking him for the help and opportunities he gave to many African communities and the thousands of medical students and doctors, like myself, around the world. I told the audience how I would forever be grateful to him and didn't care what they thought of my reference to him as "Papa Fidel." I believe that Fidel was a "Moses" to the Cuban people and so many others and that his "yes" to his assignment allowed so many destinies to be fulfilled. I had no idea that my words on that day and my actions as an ambassador for Cuba over the years were being noticed, observed and mentioned to "important" people. I remember having a meeting with a high official in the Cuban government that I had never met personally. In the group setting of our encounter, he gave me accolades and started mentioning all these things that I knew he could not have known personally because he had not been physically present in the moments of the situations he was mentioning. Once he was finished, he literally said to the group standing before me that we had open doors of opportunities because of ME. I was confused thinking "Did he just say because of me? Maybe my Spanish translation isn't so good in the moment and I didn't get enough sleep." I could not believe it. I was blown away. My heart was so honored and humbled by his words but I was still confused. He must have seen the puzzled look on my face because he followed basically saying we've been watching you, we know your character, and we know that you are honoring and representing us. Wow! Auntie Phyllis's words coming back in the flesh. I never knew "who" was watching and how word was getting back to folk on the island until recently. We were having a farewell zoom for the Cuban Embassador and I was able to share my gratitude to him for the many times over the years that he helped to make something possible and within my reach in all the many projects I had undertaken in his reign as Embassador. I also thanked him for allowing me to share a few platforms with him. When he finally spoke, he mentioned how he stood amazed at how I, and my colleagues, represent Cuba here in the US. Then, he focused his conversation completely toward me and said that he will never ever forget how proudly I stood in that conference in Chicago, in front of so many folks, and dared to call the late Commandant Fidel Castro Ruiz "Papa Fidel." He said that the Cuban delegation of doctors were in tears at my words. In that moment, humbled, my heart smiled. Little ole, insignificant me, who always would prefer to stay hidden, accomplished yet another mission! I had succeeded in my heart's desire of being an ambassador for Cuba. The icing on the cake was that I was being recognized and honored for that heart's desire. Today as we give thanks for humility, I invite you to obtain a nature of humility. Be humble in how you speak, how you behave, and how you treat everyone. Do these things with love and kindness. You'll never know who is observing you and testing your character from a distance. Please bless the organization, How Our Lives Link Altogether, H.O.L.L.A.,, who are empowering youth of color to engage in movements that help them to heal, find their voices, and work towards collective liberation. Love ya, Have a great day of thanks!

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