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!