Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Bere Adventist: A Front-Line Hospital

"I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him."

St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

 

Answering a distress call from Bere Adventist

Dr. Bill Rhodes and his wife Laura have worked for over 25 years in northern Kenya.  Bill is a plastic surgeon and the Chief of Surgery at Kapsoar Hospital.   I met up with them while working in Sudan.  They urged me to go to Chad and fill a need at Bere Adventist Hospital.   They had lost their general surgeon and needed help.  So, I arranged to go there to help them out.


Dr. Bill and Laura

Chad was a surprise.

I expected Chad to be full of rock, sand dunes and furnace-like heat.   But I was wrong. 

I found rice paddies.   It was the rainy season.  The roads were flooded and full of potholes.   When I rechecked the map, I realized that Bere Adventist Hospital was in the extreme south of Chad, away from the desert, close to where 3 countries’ borders come together: Chad, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic.   

 

I am not Indiana Jones.

Getting to and from Bere Adventist during the rainy season was an interesting trick.

The hospital did not want to risk losing one of their valuable vehicles on the muddy roads. So just before daybreak, I left the guest house and was dropped off at the bus station.  I took a 10-hour bus ride south from Chad’s capital of N’Djamena to the town of Kelo.  Several times during the trip, road-side military units would randomly stop the bus and order all of us out to have our bags checked for weapons.  My fellow passengers had no problem with any of this, so I didn’t either.

Finally, we arrived in Kelo.  What now?  I didn’t have to wait long.  A nice fellow approached me. He identified himself as coming from Bere.  He and his partner loaded my bags and me on two motorcycles. And off we went.  Motorcycles can zig-zag through the mud and around the puddles and potholes.  It was a rough 2+ hour ride.   I didn’t feel like Indiana Jones.  I felt more like a goat, tied to the cycle’s back end on its way to be sold at the market!  My behind hurt for a couple of days after the ride.  But we made it.  On the way back, the flooding was worse, and my bags and motorcycle were put on to a wooden boat for about 2-3 miles.


Boat, Bags, and Water

 Bere Adventist: Friendly and small

The team at Bere was extremely welcoming and happy to see me.  Very nice.  Dr. Staci Davenport is the hospital’s medical director.  Staci’s easy to underestimate at first.  She’s sweet, soft spoken and slight of build, but she possesses an iron will and an incredible quiet strength. Then I met the two Sarahs.  Dr. Sarah Silva is a Family Doctor and mother of two small children.  She and her husband Gabriel are busy doing it all.  Gabriel takes care of the house and is studying to be a pastor.  

 

And then there was Sarah the midwife, who is much more than a midwife.  She’s the mission’s go-to-person: a true ‘frontier woman’.  If something on the compound needs doing, either in or out of the hospital, she did it.  Sarah’s been in the mission game for a long time.  She told me about her work during the Haitian earthquake, sleeping on the airport tarmac while caring for injured people.  

She had two cats, who were very devoted and protective of her.

 

 

Termites in town

My home on the compound was made completely of concrete and metal siding.  Nothing on the hospital compound is made of wood because of the hungry termites.  I had access to a small refrigerator one building over.  I had my very own electric fan.  It’s amazing how a small luxury like that makes such a big difference.  I left it on most of the time both to keep me cool and to blow the evening mosquitos away and to make it harder for them to land.  With the flooding and the rice paddies, there were plenty of mosquitos around.  I took a second anti-malarial pill while I was there.

Mission Compound at Sunset
 

 

Bere Town

Bere Adventist is a front-line hospital, far from any large city.

It’s a farming area, flat as the Texas plains, with rice fields as far as I could see. The Bere Mission is 46 years old.  The dominant sounds of the mission are the songs of pigeons, quail, and other birds that I’d never heard before.  One can hear cattle in the distance as well.  Of course, there are no car noises at all.  There were rare motorcycles, but mostly people walked or used carts pulled by donkeys or cattle.  Front-line!


Rough Roads

French Language

French was the dominant language in the hospital for the same reason English is dominant with us back home.  The French colonized west Africa.  And the French are still active in west African politics.

Even though my French was bad, anything I could say really opened a new window.

I could talk with my patients, and I could laugh with them too.  When you can’t communicate very well by speech, you learn to get better at ‘non-verbal’ communication, with facial expressions and body language.  Generally, people could get what I was talking about.

 

Bedside mats

Like other tropical hospitals, family members will often stay in the hospital with their loved ones.

They will cook their food and help the nurses with their basic needs.

And by their bedsides, they would lay out a mat.  The mat had special significance.  It was a boundary.

It was their ‘home’.  Thus, as physicians and nurses, we had to respect that during our daily rounds, by removing our shoes before stepping on the mat, and into the patient and his/her family’s personal space.


A Future Chief

Day-by-Day: Being a Tropical Doctor  

The nature of this work in far-away places is that we often end up seeing things and getting confronted with problems that we haven’t seen before.  Or, if we have, the solutions we use back home aren’t possible out in the field with local equipment. There aren’t always reliable laboratory tests and there are no sophisticated scans either.  Sometimes the cancers are already metastatic and would not be able to be solved anywhere.  And there are few other specialist physicians to consult with.   If there’s a surgical problem that isn’t life-threatening, that I don’t have a lot of experience with (or shouldn’t try to solve), sometimes there’s a specialist scheduled to come at a future date. Visiting specialists are very valuable. People come here and put their trust in us and in God.  I strive to be worthy of that trust.  I chose to trust God too.  Like always, I learn from everyone and everything.  And I keep getting better.


One of my Victories Discharged

Drama Before Leaving

48 hours before I had to leave, Sarah the midwife was stricken with stomach pain.

Fortunately, we were able to help her without sending her out of the country.

 

An Interesting parting gift:

Dr. Sarah Silva gave me a unique parting gift: a prescription for albendazole. 

“Why would I need that?” I asked.  “That’s anti-worm medicine!  I feel fine.”

“That’s ok,” she said.  “You probably have worms, and you just don’t know it.”

Then she gave me a few packets of rehydration salts just in case I might need them.

All the other missionaries nodded in agreement. 

They told me that they all de-wormed themselves a few times a year.  

Nice to be part of the family.

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Sudan: Mother of Mercy Hospital

There is
no one free from weakness;
no one without a load to carry;
no one who is self-sufficient;
no one who can dispense without another’s help.
And so, it is our duty: to comfort each other.
to help, to guide, and advise each other.

Imitation of Christ, Book 1, XVI, 50
 


Mother Mercy Hospital, Gidel Sudan

 
In 2009, Mother of Mercy Hospital was established as a Catholic hospital to serve the impoverished people of the Nuba Mountains in southeastern Sudan. Dr. Tom Catena, a legendary Family Physician, has been serving there since the beginning. “Dr. Tom” is a dynamo. He covers everything, pediatrics, maternity, and surgery 24/7, with the energy of a man who is where he is supposed to be, doing what he has been made to do. He is revered by everyone, and it is well deserved. I had the honor to work side-by-side with him for a short time. Yes, he truly is a great man. He’s everything I’ve heard he was.
 


I went there to cover for him. Dr. Tom had temporarily gone to the USA to fund raise. Mother of Mercy, being a Catholic hospital, gets no financial support from Sudan’s Islamic government. What keeps this hospital running is Dr. Catena’s network and strong fund-raising efforts.

Fortunately, I arrived with a Family Physician, Dr. Stephen Reaney, from Northern Ireland. He’s quite a story himself. He and his Family Physician wife, Kate, raised their children as medical missionaries in Tanzania for over 10 years. Kate stayed back in Ireland during this trip. I learned a lot from him about tropical medicine. Dr. Reaney and I worked hard to be the equal of one Dr. Catena.

 
Camping out at Mother of Mercy Hospital
 
Working at Mother of Mercy Hospital reminded me of going on a summer camp out.
Temperatures were in the 100s, with no air conditioning, no fans and only warm water to drink.
Power was limited. All electricity came from solar panels. Internet was non-existent for most of my time there. A rare rainstorm damaged the wiring.

We used outhouses. It was so dark at night that during my first few nights there I would get lost trying to find my way back! The hospital was dark too. Lightbulbs were in short supply. The hospital’s light bulbs were burning out and there was no place locally to buy replacements.

The hospital is quite isolated. It is surrounded by miles and miles of dry rocky hills.
My little joke to myself was that if the hospital was a prison, it would not need walls.
There’s literally no place to go. All the more important that the hospital is where it is.


 
The UN Airlines and the Yida Refugee Camp
 
There’s no easy way in or out. It takes about 4 days to get there. I never knew that the United Nations ran an airline to move relief workers and missionaries around that area of the world. Their plane took me from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, to the Yida Refugee Camp, after a stop in the town of Rumbeck. The refugee camp is a remnant of the religious conflict that split Sudan and created South Sudan. It has been there for years. They are trying to slowly down-size it. My lasting memory of my night in the refugee camp was the mango that I was carrying in my bag. A rat sneaked in and ate it!


 
Goats rule
 
The local critters were mostly domestic farm animals: goats, pigs, cows and ducks. They roamed everywhere on the hospital grounds and the town’s streets. It was never clear who owned which animal. The goats were the most numerous. They were free to walk everywhere. If we didn’t close our front door, the goats would be in our dining room and bedrooms. They would eat any green plant within their reach.


Evidence of war

There has been conflict between Christians and Muslims in this area of the world for hundreds of years.
A few years ago, the hospital itself was periodically bombed with cluster bombs by the Islamic government forces. Dr. Tom has a box in the minor surgery room full of metal shrapnel that he has removed from people. Scattered around the hospital campus, there remain small circular craters, called “fox-holes”. People would lie flat in them, below ground level, to escape the detonation of cluster bomb shrapnel sent 360 degrees in all directions. My own bedroom had a large crack in the concrete floor and wall from a bomb that went off nearby. The bombing stopped several years ago. The locals aren’t sure that it's permanently over with. It was a rare honor to go to Mass on Sundays with other Christians who had actually faced physical persecution for their faith.
 



Conflict: tough on patients and ordinary people
 
Sudan’s Islamic state doesn’t support the Catholic Hospital. Imported supplies to support the hospital’s Pharmacy and food programs for the local people cannot come through Port Sudan on the Red Sea. They have to come by longer and more circuitous routes.

Sometimes we had patients with serious diseases that needed specialized treatment that we could not give. Sending them to the capital in Khartoum was not possible. For instance, we had several children with retinoblastoma, a condition that is easily curable with radiation treatment. No radiation therapy was possible at Mother of Mercy and referral could not be done.
I’ve never run into these kinds of problems before.

 
Incredible people
 
The hardships and the lack of comforts would be enough for many people to never want to live and work in places like Sudan. Then, on the other hand, there are a handful of others who go there to work there precisely because of the hardships, poverty, and the great needs of the people.

There is a joy to serving God through his people where-ever we are. But for these missionary doctors, nurses and relief workers, serving in tough locations makes their joy greater and more impactful.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Bongolo Hospital

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know:
the ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Albert Schweitzer

“God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that we try.”
St. Mother Teresa
 
Bongolo Hospital, Gabon.
Bongolo Hospital looks like Africa.
It is neatly nestled into the jungle forest.
Nearby, beneath the jungle canopy, it’s almost dark even during the day.

The hot and humid weather is just what you’d expect on the equator.
It feels like New Orleans and South Florida, complete with explosive thunderstorms.
Gabon’s rainforest is the second largest in the world, behind the Amazon.
The heat really slows me down. I’ve asked my new friends if this is what it’s like all the time.
And they have playfully answered: "No. Only about 80% of the time!” Great. 
 
 

Jungle Critters
Geckos and iguanas dart quickly around almost everywhere. Which is fine with me. They are my friends. They eat insects! Go geckos!
Centipedes of various sizes show up at unexpected times. I’ve been told that the ones with orange feet are the poisonous ones. I’ll take their word for it.
The only snakes I’ve seen so far are dead ones, run over by vehicles on the red-dirt roads.
When they are found alive, the locals set them on fire.
Yellow-Billed egrets gracefully strut and fly around the hospital and the mission compound.
I’ve looked for monkeys but there are none.
I’ve been told that the locals eat them. Is that true? Well, true or not, I’ve not seen any.
 


The Ants go marching! Driver Ants!
The narrow lines of fast-moving driver ants appear and disappear unpredictably.
Those lines have so many ants moving so fast that they look like running streams of water flowing across the roads and grass. There’s no way in the world that I’ll ever bother them. Why?
Because I got a little taste of that. A few days ago, when I was innocently bending over and checking out a group of those ants, suddenly I could feel a few of them crawling up my pant legs. Luckily, I was close to home. I ran upstairs, stripped off my pants and headed for the shower. There I picked them off my legs, one-by-one. Ouch! Mean little buggers! Ants in my pants!
 


Brief History of the Bongolo Mission Station
In 1934, the Christian and Missionary Alliance started the first mission station at Bongolo along the Louetsi River. In 1977, Dr. David Thompson, a 4th generation overseas missionary and a surgeon, arrived and started the expansion of the 20-year-old dispensary into what is now the Bongolo Evangelical Hospital. Today, it is the home of a Christian surgical residency training program under PAACS (Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons), supported by a 3 General surgeon faculty, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, and a renowned Ophthalmology program under Dr. Hofman; and a nursing school.
There is a hydroelectric power plant nearby.

A charming custom
Bongolo is a friendly place. One of the nicest things about being on mission is being asked to dinner by the local missionaries. Everyone is always curious about who you are and all the new incoming visitors. And I am just as curious about them. Why are they here? How did they get here? It’s always makes for a good evening. The Bongolo Mission station is very organized about all this. When I arrived, I was actually given a written schedule of where, what time and on which day I was invited to have dinner at the homes of various members of the station. Free food and conversation? Just show me where to go!

The water crisis
The other night one of the water pumps broke down. The result? No water. No water in the faucets. No showers. And no operations. One can’t run the sterilizers, autoclaves or do operations without running water. But even so, I did manage to do an emergency C-Section with their stored-up bottled sterile water during the crisis. The elective OR schedule went down for a single day. Then, we were back in business.

High School French
I should have studied harder. How was I to know that 40+ years in the future I would be working in a mission hospital in a French-speaking country in west Africa? Who knew? One thing is true for sure. The better one can speak the local language, the more effective one is. Most of the local missionaries have been sent to language school in Albertville France before they began their long-term missions here.

The hospital library
The library has a secret. On the bookshelves, I noticed some books that I thought I recognized. I opened them. To my surprise, I found my own name written on the inside jackets!

How did that happen? Then I remembered. It turns out that years ago, I donated some of my own medical books to overseas missions. I put my books into boxes and sent them to a container ship bound for Africa, leaving from Cleveland. I never dreamed that I would ever see them again. And now, here they are. They reside on the bookshelves of the surgical resident library at Bongolo Hospital. How neat is that?

My visit to Lambarene and Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s Hospital
Without my asking, on one of my weekends off, the mission made arrangements for me to visit the site of Dr. Schweitzer's famous hospital in Lambarene. It is a 3-hour drive from Bongolo. Historically, it is impossible to speak of missionary doctors without including the name of the very first and most famous of them all: Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I’ve read many of his biographies and his own writings. He was the first European physician to leave home and come to serve the people of Africa. He built his hospital next to the Ogooue River He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. He was a world figure during the early 20th century. With great reverence, I walked around the same places where he himself had walked on the original site where he once presided.

The highlight of my day there was when I donated a new book to their historical library:
“Working with Dr. Schweitzer” written by Dr. Louise Jilek-Aall.
She wrote a wonderfully sensitive and personal story about her time working in Lambarene as a young physician. Amazingly, I made friends with Dr. Louise a few years back. Now, I was bringing her story back home to Lambarene in her honor. I think that she would have liked that.
 


Bongolo: A training site for young future African surgeons
The primary reason for my coming to Bongolo was to substitute for 2 wonderful general surgeons (husband and wife: Drs. Zach and Jen O’Connor) who are in charge of the surgical training program here (PAACS: Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons/ COSECSA: College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa). I helped with teaching the young residents in conferences and guided them though surgical cases. It went well. I loved being part of this wonderful hospital.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Kudjip Nazarene Hospital: A very good place!

“Let your light shine for all the nations to see; for the glory of the Lord is streaming from you.”

Isaiah 60:1

 

 

You can’t get there from here.

Actually, you can get to Kudjip, but it takes a while.

There are no roads to the capital because of the mountains and rough terrain. 

The Kudjip Mission Station sits in a valley between mountains to the north and south.

Mt. Hagen is the nearest town with an airport, 45-minutes to the west.

 

The mountains which make travel so difficult are very beautiful.

The hills are covered with a carpet of green rainforests.

And the tops of the mountains surrounding the mission are decorated each day with a new combination of white clouds.  And when they burn off, even higher mountains are seen behind them.

It’s over a mile high and the weather is pleasantly cool.

You can see the afternoon rain clouds coming in from a long way off.

The tropical skies are expressive and ever-changing.

 


 

Painted metal and concrete

The buildings on the mission station are either painted metal or concrete cinder-block; no brick   anywhere.  Like most mission hospitals, all the staff live nearby on the mission station.

In 1957, the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) government leased land to the Nazarene Church as a way of keeping 2 hostile tribes apart.  In 1967, the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital was born. 

 


 

 

Kudjip is a very good place.

The hospital is supported by a combination of the generous Church of the Nazarene, the PNG government and building projects through Australian Aid.  4 shipping containers come each year to the hospital through the northeastern port of Lea. Equipment at the hospital is quite good.  Everything is recycled until it wears out.  Cloth drapes and gowns are the standard.

I’m particularly impressed by the hospital staff.  They’re dedicated, hard-working and very good.  There is a special esprit de corps and culture.  Everyone does their part and helps each other.  At 7:30 each morning, the nursing staff have prayer devotionals at their nursing stations.  I don’t see that everywhere.  Kudjip Hospital is a very good place!

 

Kudjip’s missionary children

Despite being rural and somewhat isolated, it doesn’t feel that way.

The Kudjip mission station is the home of a very wonderful group of missionaries: young couples and their many children.  Kudjip’s children create a wonderfully warm atmosphere which brings everyone together.  Besides several full-time schoolteachers, all the parents at some point take a turn at teaching different subjects, including playing basketball or soccer.

The children inspire frequent mission station events.  In November, there was the annual Olympic ‘field day’, when all the children competed in running and throwing events, with admiring parents and non-parents cheering them on.  In December, there was a Christmas pageant complete with cute costumes and small voices reading scripture passages.

On station, there are small playgrounds, which include a grounded small airplane for them to climb on.

 


 

The People and the Market

The Marketplace in the center of Kudjip town at the end of the hospital road is always an active during the day.  There’s plenty going on there every day.  Men and women spread their vegetables and produce on plastic mats on the ground to sell. There are 3 small stores where you can buy carbonated beverages, flour and toiletries.  They all sell the same items.  There’s always a crowd around the row of outdoor dart boards, testing their skill.     Maybe it is a small-town thing, but it is customary to smile and greet people as we pass each other on the streets.  Despite the obvious poverty, I’ve never seen anyone beg for money.

 


 

 

Kira the Cat

Kira the Cat is a ‘group project’ at the mission station.  She was temporarily left behind by a soon to be returning missionary.  She “talks” and “meows” more than any cat I’ve ever seen.  She gets at least one can of tuna from me each day, plus a little bread.  When she’s not on the prowl, she’s got a place to get out of the rain.  I do love cats.

 


 

 

“Watch-Men and Watch-Marys”

Developing world hospitals follow a similar pattern.  All patients have family members staying in the hospital helping to take care of their loved ones.  Malawi calls them “Guardians”.

 

The PNG Medical Community: ‘Everybody knows everybody’

There’s one medical school in PNG.  It follows that the national medical community knows one another well, either by immediate contact or by history.

 

Bush Knives and Betel Nuts

Bush knives are long sword-like agricultural tools used to cut down vegetation.

They are quite common because PNG is an agricultural economy.

They are also the local weapon of choice.  The injuries they cause are devastating.  Both men and women are affected.  Incomplete amputations of the legs or severe hand tendon and nerve injuries are very common.  We call them “chop injuries”.

 

Betel nuts are green and the size of walnuts.  They are sold everywhere in the local markets.  People chew them and then spit out the rest.  There must be something to them, but I’ll never try them.  They are cause cancer of the mouth and tongue. 

 

The medical missionary network

I’ve found that the mission world is a small one.

Every place I’ve been, there’s always someone who knows someone else.

For instance, the Caire family in Kenya knows the Brockington family in Malawi.

The Hodge family in Malawi knows the Crouch family in Papua New Guinea.  Kudjip.

“World Medical Missions’ Physician Post-Graduate program” is very effective in bringing young medical missionaries to overseas missions.  Plus, I’ve run across several graduates from the Family Medicine program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, called “In His Image”. 

Kudjip is a good place and I hope to return someday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Kamuzu Central Hospital

"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." 

-St. Augustine

Kamuzu Central Hospital and the Service Requirement

During the middle of my time here in Nkhoma, I was called to serve for 6 weeks at the Kamuzu Central Hospital (“KCH”) in Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe. Working there is a requirement for Malawian licensure for all expatriate physicians.

KCH is one of Malawi’s largest free-of-charge public hospitals. It has specialists that most other district hospitals do not have. It is an important training and referral hospital. And KCH is HUGE: over 1000 beds! However, one of the side-effects of being a ‘free hospital’ is the extreme over-crowding, and the waiting and delays. People often wait for weeks in their beds for their needed operations. If one is poor and has no other means, then it’s either waiting at KCH or going back home.

When there are no more beds, people will place their own cushions on the floors in the hallways.

People here put up with a lot. They often will forge on and live with their ailments for as long as they can. They come in for treatment late and their diseases are often in advanced stages when it’s harder to help them. Why is that? Is it poverty? Is it mistrust? Is it the fear of contracting Covid in coming to the hospital? Are they scared to death of coming to the hospital? I really don’t know.

Despite the conditions, I had a great time there. I loved teaching their surgery residents-in-training. Like back home, the African residents are smart, eager to learn and excited to have us teaching them.

I enjoyed the challenges doing my best to help take care of people with big problems in a resource poor hospital. One of my patients even survived an attack by a hippopotamus!

As people, we can do the best we can with our hands and what we know. Beyond that, we’re only as good as the system and the machinery that surrounds us. If the pharmacy doesn’t have the medicines, then we can’t give them. If the Operating room and its team of anesthesiologists, nurses, scrub techs and don’t share a common mission, then people are neglected. If there’s no scanners or if the laboratory can’t do tests, then it’s harder to know what is wrong.

Any act of kindness goes a long way. When people’s needs are great, it feels like the kindness goes further. The same is true back home. When we are sick, we are all poor. And it’s Jesus who is hurting, lying in those beds. We can all be extensions of God’s love in the world by making that love real.

The early AM ride into Lilongwe: fog and smoke

Since Nkhoma and Lilongwe are about 40 miles apart, I had to hire a hospital driver to take me back and forth each day. We left each morning at 06:00. Each trip took an hour each way. Those rides were a great chance to see the local county side. I saw open land with rocky and rolling hills with dotted with scattered rural brick farm houses.

Entering the capital in the early am, the air was not clear. It was a combination of morning fog and smoke from the many small fires that people huddle around for warmth and socializing before the day begins. This was their winter. Temperatures fall down to the 40’s at night and early morning. It doesn’t sound that cold, but it is a bit chilly without central heating.

The daily bicycle parade

Every morning there is a parade of men on bicycles riding along the road to the capital. All the bicycles are weighed down with things to sell. Bicycles are used to move charcoal, potatoes, firewood, goats and whatever else that can be sold. Each bundle of charcoal will fetch ~$8.00 each. That a lot of pedaling for very little.


 

Malawi’s capital: Lilongwe’s skyline and profile

From a distance, Lilongwe is a long expanse of low-lying buildings, mostly 3 stories or less, over rolling hills. The city builds outward rather than upward. There are numerous cellphone towers spread across the entire city. Internet access is surprisingly good!

On Blending in to new places: Bits and Pieces

A medical missionary once advised me about coming to a new place.

“Don’t make any suggestions for 6 months. And don’t try to change anything for at least a year.”

I definitely agree with the spirit of waiting and listening when arriving in new places.

Measuring one’s words carefully. Picking one’s spots. Watching and learning about the local context. Making small daily discoveries: ‘bits and pieces’.

No one can tell you everything there is to know about anywhere during your first few days or weeks.

It takes time to learn why things are as they are. Egotistically blundering into a new situation and trying to force one’s views on everyone, while singing that tune of “this is how we do things back home where I come from” never goes well. Living in the spirit of service and love to God, our patients, and the people I’m working with is the way to go.


 

Bere Adventist: A Front-Line Hospital

"I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him."...