When I start talking about my “annual gynecologist appointment,” most women (and men) shy away from the conversation, and for good reason. It is not exactly the easiest thing to talk about, and ranks among the top vulnerable experiences for most women. You just have to get it done, and get it done you must, and check it off the list.
I had tons of anxiety when I sat awaiting my very first gynecologist appointment. However, my anxious feelings quickly disappeared when a tall slender looking woman with a bubbly personality and the most pleasant and inviting smile walked in the door.
“Hello, I am Dr. Anne Ruch. Nice to meet you,” she said as she extended her hand to mine, grabbed a seat, and began sharing about herself. She told me that she loved to run, traveled to Guatemala to do mission trips and loved serving others. I was immediately hooked. I just wanted to learn more about her work. Instead, she shifted the focus to me and began to ask a few light and easy open-ended questions that made me feel very comfortable. From that day forward, she has been my gynecologist and was my obstetrician for both of my children.
Among our many talks over the years (and they’ve been long), I had the honor and privilege to get to know more about her values, life mission, and her deepest dreams. In tandem, I shared the same with her. Our friendship blossomed. We’ve shared about our love for Christ, the importance of following Christ’s teaching, our desire to be true servants, and the deep love we have for our children. I also learned more about her Guatemalan medical mission’s work. For several years, Dr. Ruch was doing missionary work by providing free gynecological services to the women in Guatemala. She and her husband, Randy, also worked on developing desolate communities by providing education and nutritional programs, and by providing construction services. All I could think of is, If she treats the women in Guatemala the same way she treats me, they must feel very special. That warmed my heart. In turn, Dr. Ruch shared about the unfathomable poverty, which just broke my heart and inspired me all the same.
As destiny would have it, I became more involved in Ninette’s life by helping with the high school cross-country team that she joined. I ultimately became the junior academy cross-country coach. Wouldn’t you know it, eventually, our very own daughter wound up going to the exact same school, Notre Dame Academy.
As time went on, I got more involved in SewHope, the nonprofit organization that Dr. Ruch and her husband, Randy, started. As the Ruch’s poured themselves into the Guatemalan communities that they were serving, they saw a bigger need. They decided to roll up their sleeves and dig in. SewHope’s mission is to partner with the poor, marginalized, and exploited in Guatemala to help end the injustices of poverty and bring about sustainable communities. I was a part of their very first 5k race fundraiser. It was a great success. My heart was full. The organization continues to have fundraisers with their annual 5k race and dinner celebration that my husband, David, and I enjoy supporting.
My lovely gynecologist appointments continued, as did our God-centered conversations outside of the appointment time. Dr. Ruch has and continues to sharpen me. She encouraged me to charge forward and start my first business. She gave me encouragement to write my book and be a light to the young women that I serve. She kept me looking up and seeking God’s face to fulfill the mission He specifically designed for me. I have cried in her office several times. We’ve prayed. I cannot express enough how special Dr. Ruch is to me.
You know, there are special times in life when you meet someone and you know they have a divine connection and reverence to the life that God has given them. They do not take life for granted. Every day is a gift. That is Dr. Ruch.
I will never forgot the day Dr. Ruch asked me to meet her at a coffee shop. She showed up in her workout clothes and she shared her biggest dream yet. She wanted to hear my thoughts and see if I could help her in some way. She said, “I want to do all the things that I do in Guatemala right here in Toledo. I want it to be Christian-based, where I can freely talk about God.” She said, “I know this sounds crazy and, quite frankly, I don’t know if I can pull this off. I will likely get fired from my job.” Of course, I encouraged her, just as she has done for me, and I told her that I would support her. Like any good strategic planner, she went away and went to work. Fast forward three years. We’re three weeks away from the grand opening of Compassion Health Toledo. Its mission is to provide Christ-centered, integrated, affordable, and quality healthcare to those who need it most. I am certain she would want me to say that it would not be possible without so many helping hands, and that is, without a doubt, true. However, a vision has to start with a visionary. Bravo, Dr. Ruch.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? First, I wanted you to gain deeper insight into my very good friend’s heart, and her unapologetic desire to follow Christ. Second, I wanted you to learn more about SewHope and Compassion Health Toledo’s mission and ask you to consider learning more, and if you feel led, offer your resources to these organizations. Finally, I wanted to share what it is like to be in community with a genuinely purpose-driven, servant-centered person. You have to expect that good things will happen and that you will fulfill your life’s mission. My hope is that you find a person just like this.
And it would be a bonus if she could be your gynecologist, right?