Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
I had the honor of going with the Jesus Film team to visit Georgette and her family in Dogbo, Benin. I have never seen God’s timing more perfect than when I first met Georgette and her pastor, Simon, in July. Georgette traveled from Benin to Togo for a CT scan on the ship with special permission from Dr. Gary. Last year, the Jesus Film team worked with Georgette and her husband in Cotonou and all along the crew thought she was pregnant. As time passed, they discovered her swollen abdomen was not a baby, but a tumor that had been growing for 12 years. We had no surgeon that could help her in Benin however with a CT scan she possibly could find a local doctor to help. So she arrived to the ship only coming for a scan, the same day Dr. Frank was screening general patients for surgery. See, Dr. Frank was suppose to be leaving on a plane that day to head home to Uganda. He had come three weeks earlier to do VVF surgery and fill in a gap because a max-fax surgeon had canceled. Then we received noticed our general surgeon was not able to come in July so Dr. Frank decided to stay to help the countless patients we had waiting for surgery, including Georgette. If any other surgeon would have been there, Georgette would have had only come for the scan.
The day of Georgette’s surgery finally came. I sat with her on the pre-op bench praying with my translator not knowing prayers were being lifted up on our wards, at the hospitality center, and in Benin. Georgette’s prayers were answered. She was transferred to the recovery room three hours later, with two units of blood from crew members, and 17 kilograms (37 pounds) lighter.
When I visited Georgette on the ward, I shared with her about her surgery and all she could do was give praise to the One who timed it so. I also had the honor of sharing this story with her family as thanksgiving flowed from each person. My friend reminded me afterwards, that I had met Georgette and her husband, the year before at a viewing of Jesus film and I had prayed for Georgette, but never knowing we would be reunited this way in God's perfect timing.
Monday, August 16, 2010
One of the weekend holidays, I took advantage of visiting my little friend, Afi. A group of us packed in a taxi to take the 3-hour car ride north to Atakpame. The better part of day, we spent around this village with her pictures asking, “Where is Afi?” “Have you seen her?”.
The day before, my translator friend and I spoke to a family member, planning the trip to visit Afi and her mother Ama. We waited for hours at a paper supply store, but only grandmothers, cousins, and neighbors appeared to thank us for helping her. They did not know she received the life-saving surgery on the Africa Mercy a month before. Our taxi driver, even reversed down a one-way street in order to get us to her house, but Afi was not there. After a guinea a late lunch of guinea fowl and a walk through the market, we headed home to Lome’ defeated.
On the taxi drive back, guided by a lightening storm and a starlit sky, we received a phone call from Afi’s father. They were in Lome’ at a bus station! What a joyous reunion in a gas station parking lot it was after searching for Afi for 12 hours! We showered her with love and toys, and gave loaves of bread to her grateful parents that we had carried all day. It was the typical “TIA” (This is Africa) day, but how thankful I am that I saw Afi again. I will remember Afi, not only because of her amazing story of how she received surgery, but the day I was able to see her healed and so happy!
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
We cleared the recovery room and laid out each pink sheet representing a person that came to us for help, but surgery would not be their answer. I walked among the covered stretchers along with other crew and read stories of people I never met, but were in need of my prayers. There was Dantote and Dola that were placed on the max-fax waiting list. Gloria, David, Esther, and Emmanuel all had yellow sheets from orthopedic screening. I lifted up praises for them because written on the sheet was “too good for surgery”. They all are babies with the beginning signs for bowed legs, but with the right nutrients it may be reversed. There were ones that broke my heart when I read of cancer on Kadjo’s pink sheet and HIV on others. I picked up a green sheet and noticed my handwriting below from general screening. I had met Akoele for a brief minute in hopes of being able to provide surgery for her large goiter, but now I sat there praying for healing in another way. Bamafou and Koko were waiting at home for a phone call to tell them to come to the ship, but we no more surgery slots- I prayed for peace that surpasses all understanding. As I placed each of the pink sheets in the “Prayed for” bin, the piles still on the stretchers were overwhelming to the few us left. This is when we agreed to keep praying until every name has been read. Will you pray along with us? I will find a pink sheet that has a story of someone that needs your prayers for hope and healing.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The patients that will be in my heart forever are my VVF ladies.
Afaua kept the faith, in Benin we had to put her on a waiting list because of her complicated fistula, but this year she received surgery. Then there was Deborah, who spoke small (little) English. I would look up verses in my Bible then she would look it up in her Ewe’ Bible, the local dialect, and then read it to all the other ladies on the ward. At her dress ceremony she shared she had been praying for healing like the lady in the Bible had been bleeding for 12 years.
This year was Deborah’s 12th year of leaking urine and she is now dry. She taught me persistent in prayer. I had the privilege to love each one of ladies, like a human being should be loved. Being looked in the eyes when spoken too, holding their hand, being next to them even if they did smell like urine. I would see their ashamed frowns turn into smiles of joy. I could hear their songs of praise from the OR and take a few steps to watch them dance down the hospital corridor. All the ladies have showed me what true thankfulness looks like in their own words.
Most of all, I learned about love from my patients. Love translates into all languages, it communicates when nothing else is understood. I came here to show love to my patients, but in return they have taught what love can do. I know when I am in the right place, when “the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13)