Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recent Happenings and Lessons Learned

Time is flying here.  It's so hard to believe that it has been nearly 15 months since I arrived in Kapsowar.  Each day is full of sometimes routine and sometimes out of the ordinary (and challenging) patients.  However, God's grace is sufficient and thankfully His wisdom is much more than my own.  Thank you to all of you who are praying for strength, wisdom and compassion.  I can feel your prayers and covet them each and every day.
I thought I'd just show you some pictures of what has been happening over the last couple of weeks.

Halloween came and went here without all the fanfare we have at home.  I was, however, blessed with a visit from 2 very special trick-or-treaters.

Me with Hudson (God's Mighty Warrior) and Jude (a Kenyan ninja) along with Michael, a visiting medical student from Australia

I also had the privilege of delivering one of our hospital staff that same day.  We have planned for me to deliver a few others, but for various reasons it hasn't happened.  So, it was very nice to finally get to deliver one.  Sella is particularly special to me for 2 reasons.  1 - Her daughters, Brenda and Chebet, regularly come over to my house to play and do my hair. 2 - Sella previously lost some of her pregnancies, making this one high risk, so I saw her frequently throughout her pregnancy.  I was very happy to welcome baby Naomi into the world.

Me with Sella and her miracle baby

Beautiful baby Naomi
My patients never cease to amaze me.  Despite often very difficult circumstances, they are so thankful for the care they have received.  A recent patient, Salome, was diagnosed, after doing surgery, with widely metastatic ovarian cancer - at the age of 40.  We discussed the grim prognosis, especially since her family could not afford chemotherapy, and she thanked me for taking care of her.  After she was discharged, she returned about 2 weeks later, unable to eat or drink anything.  I admitted her to the hospital for palliative care.  Despite receiving all of the anti-nausea medications we have in the hospital, she continued to vomit several times a day and I watched her body waste away in front of my eyes.  Despite being miserable, though, everytime I walked onto the female ward, she would smile at me and greet me warmly.  Even an attempt to put a tube in her stomach to relieve her vomiting failed due to the rapid growth of tumor in just 3 weeks throughout her abdomen.  Finally, we knew the end was coming soon.  Salome was a Christian and so trusted in the Lord that she would soon be with him.  "I don't fear death for myself," she told me, "but what about my children?  Who will care for them?"  Her relatives quickly and quietly reassured her that they would take care of them, as is common in this culture.  I sent her home with meager pain medications to try and ease a little of the pain that was racking her body.  As she left, she thanked me again.  I had planned to go and visit her in her home later that week, but Salome went to be with the Lord 2 days after she went home.  After her family member told me this on the phone, she thanked me.

Me with Salome on the day she was supposed to get her G-tube
One thing I have learned from the people that I serve here is how to suffer with grace and dignity and what it looks like to be thankful in the midst of suffering.  I have realized that I have no idea what it means to truly suffer.  Through my patients, I have seen what it means to praise and glorify God in the midst of suffering.  My prayer for myself and for anyone else who this resonates with is that we could learn how to see God's goodness in the midst of suffering.
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5