I Pray

June 27

Today’s blog will be difficult, and probably brief.  That’s not due to a lack of material about which to write, but because there is so much to say I hardy know where to begin, and because I’ve found today impossible to process.  It may take some time to sort out all that happened and how I feel about it.  I think that’s the case for all of us.  But I can at least make a beginning.

First, I am truly grateful that yesterday was a day of worship and rest.  We needed both to be able to accomplish what was done today.  We arrived at the medical clinic shortly after 8 a.m.  A crowd had already assembled.  Interestingly, I remembered some of the people from two years ago.  We tried to conduct an orderly registration process, but that proved impossible.  People would not wait in line to receive a number.  Instead they all rushed the registration table and jockeyed and clamored for position.  I felt perturbed at first, for it seemed that they were acting like unruly children.  Then I realized that it was something else – they were acting like completely desperate people, some of whom had walked for hours, who wanted to be sure they saw a doctor.  I felt ashamed of my harsh judgment and the spirit behind it.

Pastor Scott and I again prayed for those waiting to be seen.  I have had many opportunities to share the good news about Jesus.  I tell the people that I am willing to pray for them individually, and that it was our hope that God would use the medical care to bring health to their bodies.  But I tell them we also came to provide spiritual care, and that it was my greatest hope that they would be made whole in spirit, because health for our bodies lasts for this life only, but health for our souls is eternal.  Some receive the message eagerly.  Others seem, not disinterested, but perhaps numb.  Their suffering is so pervasive, so intense, they can focus on nothing but the prospect of relief.  This time, I managed to stave off my judgmental inclinations.

The medical clinic was a marvel.  Laura did triage, Debby and Greg saw patients, Carol, Brenda and Coni dispensed whatever drugs were prescribed.  I’m completely out of my element, and I’m drawn to each individual case.  I’m bewildered by cases of AIDS, syphilis, tuberculosis …  Debby and Greg are medical professionals.  They move with efficiency and don’t get bogged down.  Two years ago, they broke ground on the Albert and Mary McFarland Memorial Medical Center.  Now Greg and Debby are the first to actually practice in the medical center funded by and named in memory of Debby’s parents.  To be part of that is really special.

We had one of those moments today that brought home the reality that we are in a different world.  After providing an injection to a young lady, Laura was accidentally stuck by the dirty needle.  We prayed.  She was taken to the hospital where the young lady was tested for HIV, and the results were negative.  We thank God for this, but will continue praying until we’re back in the States and she has a full infectious disease screening.

A dentist came today, too, paid for by God’s Care Ministries.  Cindy and Keli have done a wonderful job as dental hygienists, but the problems are too extensive in many cases.  Belinda has been tireless and invaluable as their assistant, and Katie, Steph, Kirsten and Valerie are truly remarkable.   In fact, when a torrential rain came with gusting winds that made us wonder if Uganda had monsoons, the dentist wanted to leave, but our volunteers were stalwarts.

The hardest part of the day came toward the end.  Two days ago, Alissa discovered a man by the side of the road, badly burned over his upper torso.  He was the victim of an attempted murder after having been accused of stealing food.  We had taken him to the local medical center.  Laura had helped provide triage care for him, and provided water and juice for him until he could be transported to a larger hospital to receive adequate care.  This afternoon, she learned that the man was still at the medical center.  So she packed up bandages and ointments for his wounds.  She wanted to take them to him as we returned to the hotel.  I went too, concerned that she not go alone.  When we arrived, I saw the reason for her concern.

The medical center was a dark and dirty bunker of a building, more like a garage with filthy stalls.  There was no doctor on site.  There were two nurses who led us to the man’s bed.  No one had even bothered to give him the water and juice.  Essentially, they were leaving him alone to die.  Laura was outraged and justifiably so, but she did a good job of containing her emotions as she insisted that the man be cared for.  A doctor in a nearby town was called, who said he would receive treatment tomorrow.  What a stark contrast – this trained nurse from America who cares deeply for this stranger, and the Ugandans who seem to have dealt with this kind of situation so long that they have lost their compassion.  I simply felt helpless.  I did all I know to do – I prayed.

Father, I pray again for Brian.  Please move upon the hearts of those who can provide care for him to do all that they can do to relieve his suffering.  And please provide comfort and care for Moses, for Patrick, and for Steven.  They seem so alone here.  Please be present with them.  Draw near to them, and draw them near to you.

gkr1996 posted at 2011-6-27 Category: Uncategorized