5 March 2010

Today we tried something new at the clinic. I set up a vital sign station that was supposed to help the flow or at least free up some responsibilities of the practitioners. The patients would register and then come to my table with their registration sheet. I would then send them to the doctors once I documented their vital signs. It was hard at first because things were a bit backed up, but once I took 6 or so patient’s vital signs, things seemed to flow really well. It’s hard to know if the staff liked it or not or if they were just appeasing our wishes. I’m sure once we leave things will go back to the way they were. I doubt that what I did today will stick. I found myself missing the personal conversations with the patients – there was a lot more smiling and motioning and me butchering Creole than conversation. My translator was also very disengaged. At one point, when he decided I didn’t need him, he went to sleep in his truck.

On our way into clinic today we stopped for breakfast on the side of the road. Robi got a corn soup that smelled fabulous, but I decided I couldn’t possibly try it. Reginold, Julia’s translator, got spaghetti and others got some sort of meat dish. It still gets me that spaghetti is considered breakfast here! Everyone was in high spirits for whatever reason – maybe because it is Friday?!

During my VS I watched two men fish from a dug out canoe. It reminded me of what men in Jesus’ time must have done. It looked like exhausting and back breaking work. There was so much effort put into drawing the nets in only to have caught a lot of trash – hardly any fish. I can easily see and understand how Peter became so frustrated. I had trouble concentrating on my task because I was so captivated by the fishermen. They threw out their nets at least two more times before they were out of my line of sight.

It was pretty gray today. The staff say less people come to the clinics when it is cloudy. Today and yesterday are definitely showing that. Today our total was 55 and we were done by 1300. It was interesting how patients trickled in all day. There was some steadiness right at the beginning, but then there would be three random patients waiting for me that I had missed because there had been a really long lull.

Julia had a patient with a wound on the back of his calf today that was filled with stones and covered in flies. We cleaned it out with sterile water and then she painted it with Gentian violet (an antibacterial) and we covered it up. She was a champ with those tweezers because it was hard to stomach. There was also a woman with a very hard breast. The story was that there was an abscess that was drained (there was a large open sore to the left of her nipple), but the rest of her breast was rock hard and her nipple was bleeding. She had come for a dressing change, but we were almost sure that it was cancer. The other doctors didn’t think it was cancer. I wonder how much gets misdiagnosed around here? Some of the USAID workers showed up with muscle strains from heavy lifting. Also there was a lot of Malaria treatment again. A boy, 10 or 11, had a temperature of 40.1 Celsius, which is extremely high.

I finally figured out what was going on with the water purification system that is being built. Apparently there are two German men who are here for 3 weeks working solely on water purification in this area, which is amazing. I found this out from one of them that had asked for some treatment for a sore that had developed and looked slightly infected. He seemed nice.

I was struck today by how many different NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) are working together to make a difference, or at least the amount of coming together from all different cultures and languages to help these people. It is quite amazing to me the difference that can be made when everyone comes together. It has been special to see all of these tribes in one place for a unified cause! It makes me look forward to Heaven!

We had a photo shoot at the end of clinic today. We had been trying to get all the staff together all week to get a picture and they kept putting it off. But today, we posed in front of the flag outside of the clinic: Africo (green shirt), Charlene (white IMC shirt), Jessie (white shirt in the front), Roxy (red and white striped shirt), Robi (navy shirt), and Reginold (gray shirt) (and Ernst, our driver – red plaid shirt). We got a little silly too, which was fun. After the group picture, staff started to want to pose for head shots, so I took their pictures for fun. They were so serious and crazy. It was great to see that they have warmed up so much to us. We still can’t understand everything, but laughter certainly crosses all language barriers!

This afternoon there was another aftershock and it freaked Julia and I out. We had been doing laundry and I was about to hang mine up when we heard “the noise” (the closest I can describe it as is thunder) and then the shaking started. Once the wave ran through the building we found a “safe” place (where, if the roof collapsed, we might be protected by the wardrobe) and waited for the feeling to pass. Then we promptly ran outside and stayed there for 20 minutes. I was so serious about being VERY happy to never feel another one again! I can’t imagine what the locals think about when each aftershock hits. Africo was telling me about a nightmare he had last night about another huge earthquake. I don’t question the high levels of anxiety and acid reflux that we are seeing at the clinic. People are stressed out. Because if another earthquake were to happen it might truly crush this nation and what they don’t have left now would create an even bigger void.

Lord, help me to minister to these people. I understand that sometimes I can only give a smile or laugh with these people, but somehow will you make them feel your love. Make a way to to make yourself evident despite my feeble attempts at being your witness. Thank you for your patience with me. Be glorified in my life and all that I am doing here. May my motives be pure. Keep my eyes focused on you and your purposes. Amen.