Saturday, May 30, 2015

Zambia comparisons

            Zambia was very different from the United States. I expected it to be different, but I was still surprised at how unlike the States it was.
            One of the big things that I noticed in regards to the health care setting was the lack of supplies. Panadol (aka Tylenol) was the medicine of choice for every patient. When there were patients from a car accident, I could not believe that all they had received upon their arrival and stay, including those with multiple broken bones, was Tylenol. Any open wounds received extra care by being covered with gauze, from covering cuts or an amputated leg, to binding plaster of paris to form a splint. It also surprised me that the damp dusting was done with gauze because of the limited supply of rags.
            Another shocking comparison was the availability (or lack thereof) of doctors in the hospital. Most of the time if we needed a doctor in the ward we had to hunt down the one doctor that was working in the hospital for the day. I did not witness many emergencies, but if there had been more than one urgent problem at a time, I do not know what would have happened to the patients that were in critical need. It is very possible that one or both patients could have died.
            The nursing school was also different in Zambia than what I have observed in the U.S.A. One big thing that was unusual to me was the fact that all but three students were first year students. When I asked Precious, the student I was shadowing, about this, she told me that the school only had enough funding to allow new student entry every three years. Talk about different than the states!
            The format for lectures and clinicals there was also strange to me. Doing class work for three months and then clinicals for three months seemed odd. After I thought about it, I realized that it was not all that strange, and seems to be working well for the students. We get our core science classes done in the first two years, similar to the way that they do them in the first three months. I prefer the way that the U.S. mixes clinical experience with classroom learning, but the nursing school in Zambia has a system that works just fine.
            Lastly, there were two obvious dissimilarities in the way that I worshiped in Zambia and the way that I worship at home. First of all, after the service there was an interaction time between an elder and the audience regarding the sermon. The elder would ask the crowd questions to make sure that they had been paying attention and understood the message. My church does not have interaction like that. Questions and comments are accepted if someone wants to initiate it, but there is not a set time for discussion. Secondly, a big difference was the way that the Zambians worshiped with dancing. As a girl with Baptist roots, I have never experienced dancing in worship like they did. Anyone can clap their hands, but much more than that is most of the time frowned upon. Personally, I loved it!
            During the whole time I experienced Zambia, I learned so much about the bigness of the world and the smallness of how I view things. People every day do things differently from the way I am used to, and it amazes me how that works.

My God Story

While I was in Zambia, I did not experience anything hugely spectacular or witness any obvious miracles, but I still felt the presence of God. It was after a particular occasion was a few days in the past that I was able to look back and see the way God had worked in and through me. It was when I found out the impact that our health fair had made, that I felt God’s hand.
On that Saturday, I was already worn out from the week we had had in Mkushi district hospital. I did not know how many people to expect or how helpful I would be personally. For five hours I took blood pressure from people who did not even speak the same language that I did. I felt frustrated because the line kept getting backed up and stalled, and people were crowding all around me, impatient to receive help. There were a lot of screaming babies and several angry mothers, and at one point I thought I was about to witness a fight. All during this time I was hungry and thirsty and didn’t know what good my station was doing for most of the people there. By the time we were finished, I was so grateful to be done.
Several days later, Sherrie called us all together to share an update from Jerry. She told us that because of the health fair that we had held in Ntekete multiple villages were pitching in to help with the clinic that the Avery’s had been working so hard to get built. Men and women from the surrounding villages were helping with the digging and brick making, and were providing meals for the workers. Because of my team’s combined efforts and the work that I had participated in, God used people that I had touched to speed up the project of the clinic. The clinic that they are now assisting with will bless many lives in the future, and I played a tiny part in that process.
God, in that moment, allowed me a glimpse of a bigger picture. That made me wonder what else God has used me for and in what ways he will continue to use me. I will not always get to see the bigger picture, and most likely will never see the entirety of the effects my actions have until I reach heaven, but I know that God using me. I have realized the importance of obedience and the fact that God’s work is not always immediately enjoyable or seemingly impactful. God showed me the value of trusting him and doing his work faithfully, so that his kingdom, not my comfort, may be glorified.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Week one - Zambia hospital experience

Our week at the Mkushi district hospital is now over. I am worn out but I have had a lot of amazing experiences. Most of the days I have been in the male and female wards and have taken care of patients that were in a car accident, helped cast a some people, taken out IV catheters and sutures and so much more. I can't believe how much I have learned in just this one week and my experiences have confirmed that I really want to be a nurse!
It has also been great staying with the Avery's. They are so inspirational in the way that they interact with each other and the people here. I am enjoying all they are teaching us about being missionaries and combining that with nursing. The culture, language, and people are beautiful. I definitely recommend a visit here! There is a lot of need but so much beauty as well. I can see God at work in my life as well as the lives of the Avery's and the people here. Until next time, mushali bwino! (stay well)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The day has come! I am just about to board the plane. After close to 22 flying hours we will arrive in the Zambian airport around 3pm local time. Prayers for safety and for nerves are welcome, as all of us traveling begin this new experience. I have always had a desire to do missions, and particularly medical missions. This is the first time I will be doing something along those lines and I can't wait to see what God teaches me! Now I'm off to Africa until May 26! Thanks all for your support.