Second Week At CEML, Reflection On Spirit and Culture

November 8th, 2015 by Laureen Knuteson



What a blessing it has been to meet the many people associated with the function and support of CEML here in Lubango.  The CEML clinic is mainly run by Dr. Steven Foster, who is a well known and respected physician throughout this large city.  Not only does he show that he loves his work, but he also easily expresses his love of God.  He has much patience and doesn’t miss an opportunity to teach, whether it be a medical point or a social/cultural aspect when reviewing patients.  The patients here also show much patience and acceptance for their condition, and often do not outwardly show their emotions when given a poor diagnosis.  They are even stoic when dealing with physical pain.  The patients also can wait for several hours just to see him, and at times have to be told they need to come back the next day as the hours of operation have run out.  It is not uncommon to have someone’s  surgery rescheduled,  as he tries to not keep staff past 6 PM on surgical days. Some people’s surgeries have been delayed even up to even three days.


During my stay, the volume has been high for a single staff surgeon plus a current additional Angolan surgeon who continues to gain confidence in surgery.  There are two additional Surgeons that will be here early next year, and have been here before with commitments of long term stay.  Dr. Foster has been the force here for many years, and with these two other Surgeons, hopefully this Mission will remain strong.  I even got the pleasure of meeting a potential Angolan physician from Luanda that wishes to gain surgical training here in near future, and made a site visit.  I feel he will make a great addition.  Dr. Foster’s wish is that CEML would be a training site for surgical interns.  This past week a visiting Surgeon from Canada arrived and an Orthopedic Surgeon from Luanda worked here a few days.


My experience here has not only been made from what I have seen at the clinic but also from my experiences within the community.  My Hosts Norm and Audrey Henderson have been so gracious to take me site seeing to the near by natural wonders of this area like Serra da Leba and the Tundavala cliffs and gorge, and they have taken me to meet other people associated with the organization.  One happy family.  I also had the pleasure to experience twice an Angolan church service, and there sure are some amazing voices in the congregation.   I was introduced at the start and was greeted warmly.  One Sunday a few young men initiated trying to speak English with me, and I was so pleased at the gesture.  My Portuguese is pretty poor.  This is something that I would have to work on in order to make the type of impact I would like to make if I repeat my service here.


This week the country will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the end of control by Portugal.  The report is that the clinic will be closed on Wednesday so one can celebrate.  I will wait and see what events may occur to help celebrate.  I was told most will be played out in the capital Luanda which is several hours away.   Despite this country having rich natural resources, it continues to have limited health care services and  basic standard of living.  Only a special subset of people have gained from this benefit of its oil and diamonds.  I hope the next 40 years brings progress towards equality, and may the example set forth by these Missionaries help spread desire of Angolans to serve their fellow Man.