Wednesday, June 12, 2013

During the hike yesterday it was decided that a sunrise hike and devotional time was practically mandatory. But, we determined that only the team wanted it enough to get up in time. So, we got up at 5am and grabbed some bread and peanut butter before we left at 5:30. I’m not sure what time the sunrise actually was, but it was sometime between 5:30 and 6am. But because of the mountains, we couldn’t actually see it come up on the horizon. Instead, we saw it come up behind a mountain ridge, and it was gorgeous! We decided to go to a slightly farther away and slightly higher mountain than the night before in order to see the sunrise better. When we got there, we discovered that there “just happened” to be several large rocks on top of this particular mountain that made for perfect chairs to sit and watch the sunrise. Having rocks on top of those mountains is unusual, since they’re mostly grass. So it seemed that God ordained for us to pick that mountain for us to watch Him paint the sunrise that morning. It was amazing to think that He did it each morning, but we miss most of them. We sang a few hymns together and then each had our own personal devotional time. Although it was fairly cloudy that morning, the sun peeked its head through a few times and it was so incredible to watch. I can’t imagine what it would look like on a clear morning. It was a wonderful start to the day.

Back at the house, we ate breakfast and then divided for the day. Dr. Carol, Ellen, Mrs. Barilla, Anna-Leisa, Joy, Jordan, and I went to the Baptist hospital in Mbingo, and the rest of the Loeschers, Elly, Heather, and Robert went to Camp Joy and the Needhams’ house. I’ll start with the hospital adventures.

We started out in the labor/delivery area, where we got to see two preemie babies in the African version of incubators. There was a doctor there from the USA who was helping out at the hospital for a couple of weeks who talked to us for quite a while. Almost all the doctors there are foreigners, and are only there on a short-term basis, from two weeks to two years. This particular lady was here with her surgeon husband, and they were about halfway through their stay at the hospital. She was very helpful and told us about some of the challenges they face particular to this hospital and this part of the world. It is actually a very nice hospital by African standards, but naturally different from the States.

After that, we moved on to surgery. Joy, Jordan, and Anna-Leisa got to observe a few different types of surgeries and Joy even got to scrub in for one of them! The doctor asked for someone to help, and Joy quickly volunteered. I stayed with Mrs. Barilla while she got a shot in her shoulder, and then we waited outside the operating room for the rest of them to finish up. We thought they were only going to be in there for 30-45 minutes, but they didn’t reemerge until more than 2 hours later. As a result, Mrs. Barilla and I decided we were going to lunch without them. The hospital had set up a lunch for us with the foreign doctors that were there at the moment. We ate lunch with the lady we met that morning, her husband, a lab tech, and the husband of the pediatric surgeon Joy was assisting at the moment. There were also a few others who drifted in and out, but those were the main ones we got to talk to. Because the hospital itself is Baptist, many of them were Christians. It was good to talk to them and hear their perspective on African medicine and Africa in general.

We all eventually joined up at lunch, and then headed over to pediatrics. The head nurse there took us down the ward, explaining each patient’s condition, and then Dr. Carol would tell us more about that particular malady. When we finished seeing all of them, we sang a few songs for the entire ward. They especially enjoyed “The Love of Jesus”. It was good to bring a smile to those faces.

After the children’s ward, we got to tour the lab. We had met the lab tech, Emily, at lunch, and she was glad to show us her work. She talked to us for a while about blood donation, malaria, and HIV. Blood donation is a big concern in Africa. The biggest problem is not HIV infection, as you might guess. Instead, it is simply the social stigma. Often, if you need blood, you either have to find a family member to give it, or even pay someone to donate blood for you. Emily was trying to organize a blood drive at the hospital, but even the staff there was resistant to donating their blood. The blood screening questions there were very different from those in the USA. They would ask their tribe, their religion, whether they were getting paid, and other really non-essential questions. The “blood bank” consisted of one partly full refrigerator with mostly reserved blood, and Emily said that was the fullest she had ever seen it. It was a sobering reality – if someone could not get blood, there is not enough extra for him to have the surgery.

As a continuation of our HIV discussion, we took a tour of the women’s ward and the tuberculosis ward. TB goes hand in hand with AIDS, and as Emily predicted, the emaciated AIDS patients were easy to tell. We did get an opportunity to talk and pray with some of the patients and their families, but it was a sad thing to see. We concluded our full day with a trip to the canteen for some drinks and made to order omelettes. Definitely think that should be on the menu at more places!

The Camp Joy people had a very different, but also good day. Elly, Heather, Robert, Pastor Walter, and the rest of the Loescher crew went out to Camp Joy and the Needhams’ house. Once again, the view at the Needhams’ house defied description, but they tried to take pictures anyways. At Camp Joy, the main project for the day was moving cinderblocks. In case you haven’t ever realized, those things are really heavy. But move them they did, and rewarded themselves at the end with a splendid water fight. Alliances and ambushes were encountered at every turn, but the cool water was actually very refreshing after a morning of heavy lifting.

Everyone joined back up at the guesthouse for dinner and some fellowship time. Once again, team devos was good and rewarding study in Colossians. We still had energy afterwards to play games with the kids, but it turned out they had all gone to bed during our meeting. So we decided to follow their example and hit the sack ourselves.

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Dan Olinger

Chair, Division of Bible in the BJU School of Religion.

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