Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mobile Clinic Day #2

The next day I was asked to go on another mobile clinic. I was happy to oblige, and eager to get out into the city again.

Before we left, we were desperately praying for more time to see patients and a larger space. Everything really is such an ordeal there. Driving to where you need to go sometimes proves impossible due to the traffic. The waiting around...waiting to get guards, waiting for team leaders to figure out where they are going and what they are doing. Nothing is really efficient, as we Americans would like it to be.

So, we drove through town to the police station so that we could pick up our policeman for our journey. This process took about two hours, most of which involved us waiting around in the VERY hot sun (hence the lovely tan I came back with). But once we finally got everyone on the same page, we were off.

We drove for about 40 minutes to our destination, a moderate sized tent city that seemed to be in a middle class neighborhood. We were warmly welcomed as we arrived and a few people led us to a large church. As I walked in, I felt giddy. God grants even the smallest need, and this was our answer for a larger space. The place was huge! The two story building had suffered some damage to the balcony area, but it was still standing and for the most part in really good shape.

Not only that, but there were pews where everyone could wait while they were waiting to be seen! No waiting in the hot sun! And I was so thankful because many times people are already dehydrated and without water so waiting around sweating in the hot sun does not improve the situation. Also, the inside of the church was surprisingly cool compared to the outside. It was such a place of peace, just like God gave us a utopia. As we began to set up, Bonnie informed me that I would be our prayer support for the day, which of course I was thrilled about.

As the entire room became quiet, I began to pray as one of the police officers interpreted for me. For me, it was such a sweet experience. As I prayed, Bonnie placed her hand on the small of my back and when I had finished she said, "I knew I picked the right person for the job. My little preacher." God did alot of things for me personally on this trip, but one was to confirm gifts that He has placed in me over and over again. I cannot explain to you what a blessing this was for me. Something happens to us when we are operating in our giftings. I have greater faith, I believe God for greater things and often times the idea of doubt doesn't even cross my mind, and when it does it seems easy to crush. Confidence overwhelms me. The power of Christ falls on me because it is He that is doing this through me. I'm almost a different person, only I'm me. :)

Although not many people came and directly asked me for prayer, I just began to pray over the space, over the pastor and caretakers, the families coming for medical care, the community and of course the many, many children that kept running up to me and sitting in my lap without prompting. It was quite humorous. At one point, another team member Matt had given the kids his camera to snap pictures with. The kids snapped a picture of me making a thumbs up sign. No sooner had I gotten out my camera, and the girls wanted a picture of themselves. As I put my camera up to my eye, I see all of them standing there with their thumbs up. It was so precious.

I have other stories about mobile clinic day #2, but I will have to continue them next time...

A Chalky Baptismal

The next day after the mobile clinic, I volunteered to stay at the post op clinic again. My days were growing fewer, and I longed to spend some quality time with the families I had formed relationships with. It was a very mellow day, I spent most of my time playing with the kids.

It's really charming how they never get tired of playing with the same toys. Every day..."machines", barbies, coloring books, board games, and my favorite...balloons (in Creole, "la blad"). Every day that I came in, little Joseph would reach for my hand and start saying, "Stephanie, la blad. Stephanie, la blad." Over and over again.

Also, thanks to Greg and Patricia, I now effectively know how to manage a three-year-old tantrum. Which is a good thing, because one of the kids threw a hissy fit when I told him that we were out of balloons. But at the end of our bargaining match, he was just as content with a "machine."

Most of our days were very hot, especially in direct sunlight. But thankfully we had some shaded area. On this particular day, I wanted to inspire the children's creativity and get their minds working. Actually, one of my main goals while I was there was to get everyone's minds working and into some kind of routine, since everything they know had been crushed. So, the director of the orphanage spent some time encouraging the moms and dads to bathe their children, change them and all take turns washing the sheets on the beds (we didn't have any extras). It was quite difficult to get people motivated and take responsibility but in the end we had at least made some progress. We were really trying to foster a sense of community among the families that would be staying here for quite some time.

One of our team leaders had found some sidewalk chalk in the donations. I was thinking to myself, "What child doesn't like sidewalk chalk?" I became sad as I thought about the fact that most of the kids wouldn't be able to chalk because they couldn't get out of their beds. Oh well, we'll just have fun with the kids that can.

Then came the challenge. The only place I could get approval to sidewalk chalk was in the blazing sun on the side of the guest house. None of the kids wanted to chalk because it was too hot. As I scrambled to think of other ideas (I was really desperate to make this happen), I noticed an outside baptismal with four walls. I ran in and asked for permission to chalk the baptismal. The first step was that I had to teach the kids what sidewalk chalk was and how to use it. I handed to them and immediately got blank stares. Silly me.

As I started passing out the chalk, all of the kids started to screech with excitement and then it occurred to me that we now had a standing 4 sided structure to chalk on! This meant that we could pull all of the cots over to the wall and each child (even the bedridden ones) could sidewalk chalk! I laughed to myself, again...thinking that in the first place I had the perfect plan figured out. wasn't so perfect. And nothing went how I planned. :) Isn't God so good? He made a way for all of His children to enjoy the creativity placed in them by their Father. As we pulled each cot over to the wall, I witnessed some of the most joyful expressions I have ever seen. The kids were so excited!

The kids all had a great time, and then afterwards we all sat around the baptismal and talked. One of the dad's is a police officer and spoke English quite well. He began to ask me about how long I had known Jesus. I was able to share a little bit of my testimony as well as talk about Jesus and who He is. Now I don't know if anyone else could speak English, but this whole scenario drew quite a crowd and they all listened intently so they must have been hearing something. :)

At the end of the day, i walked over to my tent completely satisfied, and I realized why it is so easy for me to relate these people. They enjoy just being. They don't need to do anything. No one has to say the right thing, or be a certain way. They just simply love and enjoy one another for who they are. They laugh, and they sit in silence, and all is well.

Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the chalky baptismal. I was too busy just enjoying the day with my friends.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mobile Clinic Day #1

So, after all of that waiting around in the heat, we were finally on our way. Our destination was fairly close and we drove only about 15-20 minutes. We couldn't travel very far, since we were on a limited time schedule to get the police officers back to the base. We drove into a very secluded tent city, and as we drove in the people began to crowd the trucks. They knew of course, by our scrubs that we were medical professionals.

As we arrived, the local people were very quick, gracious and willing to help us set up. They cleared a small 5'X5' sheet tent for us to make our clinic home. That tiny space contained 4 chairs where patients sat while they were assessed, three nurses, a pharmacy and two pharmacists (aka nurses who know about medications). :)

We were so tight in the space, and all of the locals so packed in tight that I wasn't able to get any pictures. I tried not to take any close up pictures in the communities because I didn't want people to feel like we might be exploiting them. So if I couldn't stand quite a distance away and zoom for the pic, I tried to keep my camera in the bag. I also didn't want to cause chaos.

Because of our short time this day, we only saw about 50 patients in our 1 1/2 hours. But it was worth every single person who was helped during that time. Several men I encountered had outbreaks of herpes and were in quite alot of pain, only our medication supply was limited and we did not have any valtrex. So, I did my best to education them on lifestyle choices and prayed for them and sent them on their way. I saw several sick little babies who had a fever, and then the common aches and pains that come with being dehydrated and hungry. It was evident in my assessments that many ailments were also caused by anxiety and grief, and my heart felt sad that I couldn't bring more healing and comfort to those places.

Although these days were fruitful and just as much authored by God as all the others, it definitely involved less personal ministry on my part. But I trust that God used every smile, touch and word of grace to minister in realms that I cannot see.

I think most people on the team felt at least a little disappointed that we did not see more patients. But it was a sweet reminder from the Lord that His work is not about numbers, nor is it about what we do as His people. It is about what He is doing, for His glory.