“Emoya.” In Mampruli, it means “You’ve done well.” It’s one of my favorite expressions in the Mampruli language, and one that I’ve missed over the last week. My Ghanian friends would use this expression multiple times in casual conversation, often to signify that they agree with you. Since arriving home last week, I’ve gotten to chat with several of my Ghanian friends on the phone. “Emoya.” That’s what they say when they hear that I have made it home safely. It makes me miss them.

I plan to share a few more stories, and I’ve been slow to do so. I just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know that I am home safely. My weekends are filled with celebrating the marriages of my closest friends, but I’ve yet to upload all of my pictures. I just wanted to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, emails, and welcome homes. In the few days I have been home, people have asked me for updates on certain patients or prayer requests. I continue to be amazed at the faithfulness of my friends and the community of believers. Emoya. Emoya pom. You’ve done very well.

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Jimiyla and Nuru

Well, I had intended to share the second part of this story a lot earlier this week. But it seems that I’m on “Africa time.” The Ghanians here will often specify whether they want to meet you at “4:00 sharp” or “4:00 African time.” It’s great. So in true African fashion, I want to share some more of the story about Wendy and the heart babies. God has continued to work big things here.

Currently, Wendy and Greg are in Israel with Jimayla and her son, Nuru. Nuru was born with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) and, like Clement, is in need of some life saving surgery. Nuru is full of life. Nuru and Jimayla come from a Muslim family that live a few hours away. They do not speak Mampruli like the people here, but have been living here for the last few months. I don’t know the full story behind how Wendy met Jimiyla and Nuru, but I have loved being able to watch it unfold in the last few weeks.

Jimiyla is one of the most beautiful, loving people that I have met here. She is such an incredible mother. Her and Nuru have been living at the nutritional feeding center here for the last few months. I would visit with her on my way to and from the hospital each day. Nuru is a friendly, happy baby. He loves people. He practically jumps into my arms every time he sees me. For a few weeks in June, Nuru was very sick. I would see him on rounds in the pediatric ward, and it was so hard to see him so lifeless and lethargic. Luckily, he became well enough to fly and they left with Wendy and Greg on June 28th.

I really feel privileged to have watched Jimiyla’s faith journey. Even through the massive language barrier, Wendy continued to share the gospel with her over the course of a few months. As a patient of the hospital’s nutrition center, Jimiyla would hear a devotional every day. Jimiyla once told Wendy that never in her life before had she felt so loved. A few days before her trip, Jimiyla was at the nutrition center and accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. On my way home from the hospital today, she was so excited to share with me her new decision. I truly believe that Jimayla has seen the Lord remove so many obstacles to allow Nuru to get a new heart, and she has a very tangible trust in Him. Then, as they travelled to Accra on their way to Israel, Jimiyla’s husband came to meet them there. And he too acknowledged Jesus as Lord. Praise God for His good work and the salvation of this family!

Although the exact date of the surgery is not yet set, pray for the doctors as they are doing preoperative tests and treatments. Pray for Jimiyla and Nuru. They are in a foreign land and can not even speak English to talk with Greg and Wendy. Pray for comfort and for communication barriers to fall away. Pray for Jimiyla and her husband’s new faith. Pray that they understand both the significance of a “new heart” in Christ and that they will be accepted into a church community when they return to their village. Pray for Nuru’s surgery. Pray that just as God has healed this family spiritually, he will heal the physical hole in Nuru’s heart. I will keep you updated.

Odd Ends

Well, my time here is rapidly coming to an end. I can’t believe that in a few short days, I’ll be on my way back home. I am so excited to get home and celebrate the weddings of some of my best friends. I’ve been praying for them, and am excited for those days! Still, it will be hard to leave. In the recent weeks, I have felt like I have really gotten to know the real Ghana. I have felt less and less a part of BMC only, and more and more part of the community. My time has been full of spending time with people. I’ve found a group of health students that plays volleyball every day. I’ve been playing about four times a week, and I will miss the volleyball crew.  I’ve eaten less meals here at the BMC, and have been hosted by many friends in their homes. I think these times have been the most precious to me. I don’t really feel like I’m on a vacation or a trip, but I feel like I’ve made lasting friendships and relationships. I’ll miss these!

 On Tuesday, I leave the BMC to go to Accra. I’ll arrive in Accra around 8 a.m., and my flight leaves for the U.S. around midnight the next day. So, I have just over 40 hours. I’ll be travelling with Dr. Richard, who is returning home after 10 months here in Ghana. We plan to make a quick trip to Cape Coast. I feel as if the next few days will go quickly, way too quickly. I’ll try to update once more before I am home, but I can’t make any promises. I hope to write a few more entries from the U.S., because I feel as if I have a few more stories that are worth sharing. For sure, I’ll be uploading a picture of Nuru. I hope to see or talk to you soon!

Well, it seems like I have gone ages without an update. And then, it seems as if I have so many stories that I want to share, that I feel like I don’t even know where to begin. There’s a phenomenal story I’ve been meaning to share for quite some time, so I guess I’ll start with that.

I’ve mentioned before that Greg and Wendy, the volunteer coordinators, are some of my absolute favorites. I think I’ve delayed so much in sharing about their ministry because I know I’ll be selling it short. There is nothing like hearing the testimonies from the people firsthand. In the U.S., Wendy worked as a nurse, but since they moved to Ghana with their three children, she has instead been stretched to serve as a homeschool teacher this last year. Still, she has taken a special interest in caring for patients with congenital heart defects. Even at the BMC, care is limited. For example, if a child is in respiratory distress, we are able to give 35% oxygen; once, when prescribing oxygen for a child who was in obvious need, I had to watch them take the oxygen away from another child. Children with CHD need to get care somewhere else, or they will not really get the care they need.

Over the last year, Wendy first met Clement, the son of a hospital worker. His father, Baba Tiah, is a man of incredible faith. Clement was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect, and the hole in his heart would probably prevent him from living to adulthood. However, Wendy, through lots of hard work and millions of details and obstacles, was able to work with organizations like Save A Child’s Heart to send him to Florida to have life-saving surgery. Baba Tiah invited us to dinner last week, where he shared the testimony of Clement’s journey. Every detail was incredible. In Nalerigu, birth certificates are rare. You can imagine all the hoops that were jumped in order to acquire passports and visas for Clement and his father. Baba Tiah had never flown before and got to see the ocean for the first time. Imagine, never really venturing far past the red dirt road here, and being flown to Florida with the hope of saving your child’s life! I wish I could recall every detail of the story that Baba Tiah shared, but it left me in utter amazement. While these nonprofit organizations certainly have systems in place to plan these trips, it is no smal miracle that everything fell into place when Baba Tiah didn’t even have a cell phone.

Baba Tiah is a man that is filled with joy every minute. I think he very much feels that he saw near-death, and that the Lord has given life. I believe that the Lord has big things in store for Baba Tiah and Clement’s family. They are shouting His name from rooftops here, for the good He has done. I have continued to be challenged by Wendy. She said to me, “I mean, if it was my child, I would want to go to the ends of the earth for him.” And that’s what she did for Clement. I think sometimes we shy away from tackling tasks like that, because maybe it isn’t something we can offer for everyone. But the other night, at Baba’s house, I saw a family who was completely changed. Like those who have had a large burden lifted or a huge debt cancelled, they walk in renewed and contagious joy. I have never been so confident that their family will impact many, many more.

You can read a little about Clement’s trip here.
http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=187130

This story actually continues, but I’ll have to share Part II soon. I’ll try to update tomorrow. Baba Tiah is a man who, to me, really anticipated great things from God. He had no reason to expect that Clement’s life would be saved, and no practical reason to hope otherwise. Be encouraged; we have reason to hope.

Wow, there is so much to write, I’m not even sure where to start. The last week has flown by. Last Wednesday, a group of about 24 volunteers from Kansas City arrived at the BMC. They came from Abundant Life Baptist Church (I think) which is the home church that Greg and Wendy Nyhus attend when they are in the US. I have talked so little about them, but the Nyhus family are some of my favorite people! Greg and Wendy are some of the most practical, most loving, most prayful, and most efficient people that I’ve ever met – and I feel like that is such a rare combination. They are here with their three kids and have been here almost a year and a half. I will have to write more on this family later because the Lord’s hand is so evident in their life here.

Anyways, I absolutely loved having a large group at the BMC. You can imagine how busy and crazy and fun life seemed while they were here. As I talked to each of them individually, I have never felt so encouraged or cared for. I felt as if they were all my family away from home. It was the best. Because of the large group, there were many opportunities for other ministry options. On Thursday, for the first time since being here, I took a day off from the hospital completely. With two other women, we travelled to a small village for the adventure of a lifetime.

Myself, Vikki, and Janie (two volunteers from KC), decided to spend the day with Public Health. We weren’t exactly sure what that was going to entail. We heard rumors of giving vaccinations or possibly leading educational lessons. We actually didn’t have a clue about what was going on. We arrived to the Public Health building early in the morning. However, our leave time was delayed by several hours, which gave us plenty of time to visit Public Health. The Ghanian government works really hard with the Department of Public Health. They offer maternal care during pregnancy, information on family planning, infant care, vaccinations, and HIV treatment, to name a few. For exampe, when we were there, they were teaching a new mother how to properly breastfeed and educating her on what to feed her new daughter. These services are free for Ghanians. From my few hours there, I really felt like they are making strides in preventative care and health education.

After a delayed start, we travelled to a very small village about an hour away. Mrs. Baba, the Director of Public Health, travelled with us. Mrs. Baba is great. Some time ago, an American family sponsored her to get her MPH at UNC Chapel Hill. She is a brillant, fun woman who really believes in bringing quality care to the north. Mrs. Baba informed us of Ghana’s new campaign to prevent maternal deaths due to childbirth. Now, Public Health is urging all people to try to have their children born in a hospital. We were told that there would be a play to educate the people on the importance of skilled deliveries.

We really didn’t know what we were in for. Two villages had come together for this celebratory event and occasion. When we arrived, tribal dancing immediately commenced. The two village tribes each had their own unique dance. Because we were honored guests, we had the perfect view. When Mrs. Baba had told me there was going to be a play, I really thought that there would be a short skit. I kind of imagined a lot of chaos and sheepish actors, as though it were a youth group acting out a pregnancy and birth. I had no idea. Drama here is often used to educate people, and the play was phenomenal. It lasted about an hour and the actors were in costume and remained in character. The play boldly parodied the traditional witchdoctor, but did so in a way that had the whole crowd laughing. The actors all had to share a single megaphone, but did this gracefully and subtly, in a way that didn’t detract from the acting. It really was a huge success.

Afterwards, we had a public forum. Many government workers were present and able to listen to the concerns of the village. One lady came forward and voiced that there needed to be a clinic present in the village with a skilled nurse. The road to the hospital in Nalerigu is all but destroyed. After an hour by car, I was also ready to see a chiropractor or try traditional medicine, whichever was more readily available. The thought of a pregnant woman making the same journey seemed laughabe, especially since they would most likely be on a bike or motorcycle.  Public Health agreed to try and rebuild a clinic in the village. Also, Wendy Nyhus wants to work with churches in Nalerigu to have people volunteer to house pregnant women who come to deliver their babies. That way, they could make the trip before they were in labor. I also believe that this would bring together the community and offer a practical way for the Ghanian church to minister to this region.

We ended the day by visiting the chief. We were taken to his palace by a dancing procession, where further negotiations took place. Somehow, we continued to be guests of honor. While all of these Mampruli discussions occured, a goat was brought out by two teenage boys. They held it to the ground by its horns. I feared right then that they were going to kill this goat in front of us and offer it to us to eat. Fortunately, they didn’t.  Instead, they gave us the goat. Not to us, but some people we were travelling with. They did, however, give us many many eggs. And some chickens. The whole day I felt as if I watching a movie play out, and had to remind myself that this is real. To me, it was just a day trip, but these people live here, and eat here, and celebrate with these dances and these dramas and these gifts. I really felt like I got to experience the richness of Ghanian culture. I really valued being able to spectate. At the BMC, where any white person is assumed to be a doctor, I feel more separate. By offering medical care, we are almost adding something new to their culture. But at the village, with the play and the public forum, I just got to watch a true village day. It was done their way, not ours. I was just one of the thousand. It just felt true.  After that, driving with some chickens and a goat in the back of a pickup truck felt kind of perfect.

Two weeks ago, I posted pictures of two premature twins. Since that time, they have both being doing so well that they have become my favorite patients. They are no longer on IV and are sucking like normal babies. This morning, we even started talking to the mother about possible discharge dates. These babies are the miracles that I dare to hope for. Their survival, against all odds, is a reminder to me of God’s sovereignty and grace.

 This afternoon however, the larger twin began to forget to breathe. This apnea is very common in premature babies. When he is breathing, he is fine. But fairly often, he just stops, and it is always a scare to get him to breathe again. In the U.S. we have monitors and machines, but here, we have no real way to monitor him apart from just watching him. If you read this today, please be praying for her throughout the night. Pray that the mom and the nurses are attentive. Pray that “twin 1” would remember to breathe. Pray that spells of apnea would pass quickly. Pray that God would give her each breath and that her life would be spared. Pray for the mother, Asana, that she would believe and hope for life.

Thank you for praying with me. It is truly the desire of my heart for these twins to go home healthy! In this, I am hoping for great things.

Happy Father’s day, dad! I wish I could be there! I love you very much!

I recently realized that in my posts so far, I have yet to really portray much about Nalerigu, the town where I live. I will attempt to do so now, although I may struggle, because already the things that I had thought were distinct have now become parts of every day life. I feel as if I have been here longer than I have. I feel like I will stay longer than I will. It will be hard to part with a place that I have chosen to make a home. I will miss it.

Nalerigu is difficult to find on a map, and is certainly more of a village than a town. It is about 2 hours north of Tamale, and borders the northernmost region. Those who live in Southern Ghana tend to think of themselves as elite, while viewing northern Ghanians as uneducated farmers, or hillbillies. While southern Ghana has much to offer in terms of education, industry, agriculture, and health services, the people in the north often find themselves in desperate need. The roads, or lack of roads, prevent equal spread of resources across Ghana. . It is for this reason that the Baptist Medical Center is located here. The BMC serves as quality health care for people in the north.

This is the view of the street right outside of the hospital. One of those shops is where I purchase a coke every day. Mary, the shopkeeper, has become a close friend. Her ten year old son, Ezekiel, is responsible for the shop at night, and I often drop by just to see him. There are these two toddlers that are always wandering around. They love to run up and give me hugs and hold my hands. I tried to get their picture, but they must have never seen a camera before. I’m afraid I scared them quite a bit by pulling my camera out.

Market is every third day. I am currently reading The Poisonwood Bible and I laughed when I came across this passage:

Every fifth day was market day– not the seventh or thirtieth, nothing you could give a name like “Saturday,” or “The First of the Month,” but every thumb if you kept the days in your hand. It makes no sense at all, and then finally all the sense in the world, once you understand that keeping things in your hand is exactly how it’s done…

And that’s how it is here. Except it’s every third day. I’ve been to the market quite a few times. And to be honest, there isn’t much to either sell or buy. I bought a head scarf so I could dub myself Ghanian, but I don’t think I’ll quite be there until I’m carrying a child on my back.  People mostly sell crops or textile products. Much to my suprise, Ghana does not have much to offer in terms of produce. There are no green vegetables that are grown in this area. Not a single one. Any green vegetable has to be brought up from the South, an expensive and rare occurence. So, what grows here? Yams. Yams are the staple food. Fortunately, it turns out that I like yams. The diet here consists of starch and soup. Either yams and stew or rice and stew. That’s pretty much it. While it may taste fine, the lack of fruit and vegetables certainly contributes to the malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies we see in clinic.

As far as religion goes, I honestly can’t remember what I have shared with ya’ll so far. The northern area of Ghana has a strong Muslim influence. However, because the BMC has been present in Nalerigu for over fifty years, Nalerigu itself has a strong Christian presence. So far, I’ve attended First Baptist Church of Nalerigu for the last three Sundays. My favorite part is when we go up to give tithes and offerings. Everyone takes their offering, and starting with the back row, they dance down the aisle to place their offering at the altar. You better believe that on my first Sunday here, I was the person in the aisle seat on that back row. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but found myself leading a procession toward the altar. Besides, I think the Ghanians find my dancing skills no more impressive than my friends back home. Church here is much like church at home, only I understand a little bit less. Sometimes English is spoken and sometimes Mampruli is spoken, and sometimes I’m not sure what is going on. Still, we sing hymns and then we have a sermon. A few weeks ago, I finally realized that we were singing “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” only the rhythm and tune had been slightly adjusted to encourage more dancing and clapping. It was great!

Well, to be honest, I’ve been waiting to post this for over four days now. The electricity has been out a lot more often here, and the internet has failed to cooperate. There are many evenings when I am excited to share with ya’ll, and then am unable to. Just know that I am so grateful for your friendship and interest and am writing ya’ll every chance I get. Hope all is well on your side of the Atlantic. I’m leaving you with the view from my backyard…

Yesterday, we travelled to Gambaga, a town that is about 10 miles away from Nalerigu. It seems that witch trials are not only a thing of the past. Gambaga serves as a refuge for more than 100 women that were accused of witchcraft.

Traditional beliefs in sorcery are deep within Ghanian culture. While both men and women are thought to be capable of witchcraft, men are believed to use their power for good, as in the protection of their household. Women, however, live under a shadow of suspicion.

The story goes that long ago, a woman was accused of witchcraft. Her fellow villagers began to beat her and sought her life. She was sentenced to be hung for her crimes. An imam, a leader of the Muslim community, was walking from Gambaga to Nalerigu when he came across this woman. She begged the imam to help her, and the imam convinced her accusers to allow the woman to stay in his custody. As women accused of witchcraft heard of this safehaven, they fled to Gambaga where they stayed in the mosque. However, soon, the number of witches outgrew the mosque, and a camp for witches was established on the outskirts of the town. The camp remains there today, and it was a privilege to visit it yesterday.

Many of the stories of the women are quite sad. For example, some men here are accustomed to taking multiple wives. The wives affectionally refer to eachother as their “rival.” One women was first accused of being a witch because her rival’s daughter became ill and died. Because she was accused, it was true. Another woman was accused of witchcraft during a meningitis outbreak during which she remained well. Regardless of the instigative incident, the path of these women is always unfortunately similar. These women are driven away from their home, village, and children. They are threatened, beaten, burned, and stoned. Then, the women are subjected to a trial by ordeal. A chicken is killed and thrown in the air. If the chicken dies with its feathers facing skyward, then the women is innocent. If the chicken dies with its feathers facing down, then the women is most certainly condemned. I couldn’t believe that a modern day Salem exists and continues to oppress these women.

At Gambaga, the women are protected by a single male chief. In truth, he offers them protection and sanctuary from many that seek their lives. However, he is still to gain. The women pay him for his protection and give them a portion of their crops. Though the women are completely uprooted from their home, here there is some resemblance of a life. They truly live in a community together and care for one another. Many of the older women are now disabled, so their cooking and labor is done by the younger women. A few years ago, a peace corp worker and missionary came and taught them to make jewelry. Now, the women of Gambaga are able to use money from jewelry sales to buy grain and wheat. The Presbyterian church is now involved in this community and has been slowly successful in reconciling some of these women to their villages and their families.

Yesterday, we visited the outcast camp shortly to greet the women. We sang and danced awhile and then Wendy prayed over all of the women. We bought some jewelry and just spent time together, pretending to understand each other. I plan to visit these women on a weekly basis, just to be among them and be a friendly face.

If you ever happen to get me started on talking about the things I love, I’d probably start with journaling. 🙂 But then, as the conversation continued, I would probably start talking about my favorite authors. Soon enough, I would be convincing you to read a book called “The Practice of the Presence of God,” by Brother Lawrence, from where I get the following quote:

That our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God’s sake, which we commonly do for our own.

Apart from sparse internet connection, there is another reason I haven’t been able to update my blog for awhile. But, luckily, I have something to show for it. Dr. Akiko is a visiting pediatric anethesiologist that I have gotten to spend time with for the last ten days. Though Dr. Akiko is way more comfortable in the OR, she has readapted to becoming a clinician, and her and I work as a team to cover the pediatric ward. Anyways, I have really been blessed to watch Dr. Akiko really live out the words of 1 Corinthians 10:31. She is originally from Japan, and each night will spend three to four hours making origami for the children we will see the next day. Before, it was as if our ministry would end with the daylight. While it may seem like just arts and crafts, this has been a great use of our time at night and these children truly cherish the origami like toys. Who would have thought that I’d have to travel to Ghana to learn origami? Here is a picture of one night’s spoils:

We also decided that the pediatric ward needed a little joy. Even though it was difficult to smuggle some tape and glue which are in limited supply here, we did it. Here are some before and after pictures. It’s a small thing for sure, but today when we hung the new decor, the kids couldn’t have been more fascinated.

That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. (Again, Brother Lawrence)

I’m grateful for Dr. Akiko for reminding me again how to do just that.

Meet Dumpoko and Tinaba.
They aren’t related, but you would never know. Because of their nephrotic syndrome, they look very similar. Nephrotic syndrome is a nonspecific disoder that can result from various other ailments – in their case, it was likely hepatitis or malaria. In nephrotic syndrome, the kidneys are damaged, and protein is excreted in the urine. Decreased protein in the serum causes water to accumulate all over the body, as you can see here. It’s hard to believe, but this picture was taken after we drained 7 liters from each of them individually through a paracentesis.

 

Meet Arijatu.
I think this may be his name, but I’m absolutely not certain. This kid is one of the healthier ones. He is here for intermittent acute leg pain that, when present, prevents him from walking. Though we are treating him for osteomyelitis, the leg pain still comes and goes. His legs are non edematous but warm to the touch. He will probably be discharged soon, though I wish we could promise that the pain would disappear. He does not have sickle cell, and has so far been treated for every infection we could think of. Suggestions are welcome as to what could be causing this pain. He definitely is a cute one though, and has been fun to see on rounds.

Meet Muhammed.
Muhammed was admitted from the outpatient clinic yesterday. He was carried in by his parents and several others who kept repeating, “Doktor, the child is very weak.” Indeed, he was. Unable to walk, difficult to rouse, and does not respond to painful stimuli – these signs among others indicate central nervous system involvement. We have been treating him for both cerebral malaria and meningitis, but he shows no sign of improvement thus far. His spinal tap was clear, without an elevated WBC count, and we continue to be stumped. We now suspect that he may have African Sleeping Sickness, although there is no way to diagnose that definitively with the resources at hand. Please be praying that he is healed by the One who can truly heal. I continue to pray that I will see this child awake and happy soon.

Meet the twins.
Premie twins – one is 2 lb and the other is 3 lb. They are not named yet. The parents here often wait to name their children to first see if they will survive. In my opinion, they are definitely survivors. They are some of the highlights of my day to see them in the maternity ward. Although they definitely require detailed care, so far they are responding well.

Well, though these are only a few of my patients, I wanted to introduce you to some of them while I had good internet connection. I have told many of the parents that I have good friends in America that are praying spefically for them and their children. The Ghanians are so grateful, and so am I. Hopefully in a weeks time, these children are all home and healthy.

There are two kinds of patients here – those that are sick and those that are not. It seems that we either get patients that are coming into the clinic for tylenol or patients that are on the verge of death. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are clinic days. After rounding at the hospital on our pediatric patients, we will start seeing patients at the clinic from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., before starting night rounds. You never know what a clinic day may bring. But, in sincerity, almost half of the patients seem to suffer from something that has even surpassed malaria and typhoid in its prevelance.  Often, the medical history is right out of a script:

“What brings you here today?”
“I am having chest pain.”
“Chest pain? How long have you had the chest pain?”
“Three days. I am also having waist pain.”
“Waist pain? For how long?”
“Three days. Also my leg hurts.”
And so it goes…

With my first few patients with this complaint, I took the most detailed history I had ever taken. Like any medical student would, I took the chest pain complaint very seriously and was hoping to take a crash course in cardiology to get to the root of the problem. Now, while I still will ask the necessary questions and do a physical exam, I have come to realize that most people just want a “prescription” for tylenol. Granted, the labor here is hard work, and I’m sure the pain they suffer is legit, but who knew that tylenol could bring joy to so many people. Sometimes I think that some patients want it just so they have something to call their own.

The other half of the patients here are certainly in need of a lot of medicine, prayer, and small miracles. My little friend had a successful surgery for his intestinal perforation, but twenty four hours laters, he died in his bed. I’ve continued to struggle with the death of children in the last few days, and I suspect I will continue to. My roommates can confirm that I’ve been known to shed a tear or two before in some episodes of Grey’s anatomy, but here the death has felt heavy, and at times, unshakeable. In some ways, I think it has been good for me to feel the sting of death. It gives life to the words of 1 Corinthians 15:

For the perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that it written:
       “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
       “O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”

Just as sometimes the Lord allows me to feel the weight of my sin so I can marvel at the depths of the mercy, so has He allowed me to feel the sting of death. As for us whose hope is in Jesus, let’s not forget how great and undeserving and awesome is the gift of eternal life. “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth.” (Isaiah 25:8) Sweet, sweet anticipation.

Also, though several children have died this week, many many more have lived. Many children go home healthy. Many children leave with smiles on their faces and coloring books and stickers.  I love it when I give a child a sticker for the first time. Many have never seen a sticker before. They don’t know how it works. When I peel the sticker off the sheet for them and stick it somewhere, they continue to be fascinated long after I’ve gone. Many lives are saved here – both physically and spiritually.

I  had a very encouraging conversation with Wendy, the volunteer coordinator here this week, and I hope to spend part of this weekend talking with her about what it looks like to connect medicine and the ministry of the gospel. This first week has definitely felt like it has been more focused on the medicine aspect, and I am eager to learn more and more how to make Christ supreme in all things.

Sorry for all of the lengthy reading, but I’m never sure when I’m going to get internet again. I often feel that this definitely qualifies as ‘the ends of the earth,’ and who knew that the end of the earth would have Wifi? I’ll try to put some pictures up soon, when the connection is less fussy.

I’m so grateful for your prayers, and comments, and emails. They are a little peice of friends and family that I get to keep with me from way across the world. TGIF! I hope your Friday was great!

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