Well hello again from the middle of nowhere! As I sit here and think about what to tell you all this time, I keep thinking that I have already written certain things in previous blogs! So if that’s the case and I repeat myself please do forgive me. The days are long but the weeks are short so it is hard to keep track of things that happen around here.
Today was D-Day for my group - Departure day that is. Sad for me and bittersweet for them. I am happy for all of them to get to go home back to where they have built their lives - but I know that in some ways they will all miss this place. I am sure they will each miss different things such as the precious kids, the sweet cooks at the house, the staff at the hospital or a choice few people in the villages. I will just miss them. Last night everyone wanted to spend one more night together playing games. I think I mentioned before that there are 4 people here from Kentucky, 2 of them are our ages and the other two are older. We also still have the 2 medical students from Hong Kong here with us. Oh and I almost forgot, Dr. Faile who basically is the son of the guy who started this place, had been on furlow until last friday. They brought one of their sons back with them named Peter who is also our age and will be here for 3 months. He played with us last night as well but I am not sure he will be doing a whole lot of hanging out with us - it sounds like he is wanting to do some traveling to other african countries while he is here. So all together we played our little spades tournament that seems to have been going on for some time now, and then later played catch phrase which was so much fun! The girls won and we deserved it. So we stayed up late doing that and then everyone needed to pack up still and shower so Shane and I didn’t get to bed until almost 2am. The alarm was set for 4am which is when they had to leave today. I of course got up with them and sent them off with my eyes half shut and teary. It was so strange walking back into the house that was near vacant all alone to a big bed waiting only for me. All of the things that didn’t seem to bother me or scare me slowly began to introduce that nasty fear back into my thoughts. The noises from the animals outside and the nightwatchman were all the sudden frightening in ways - which is interesting considering I don’t even remember hearing these things when Shane was there with me. So needless to say I did not get any sleep. 2 hours after I laid back down, I somehow realized that i had been subconsciously memorizing the annoying harmonies of the bats and wildlife outside. My thoughts felt numb and I was somewhat speechless. I definitely felt and still feel a heaviness having watched my husband and some good friends drive away from me this morning - when about 75% of my heart wants to go home with them. Maybe I am being overly dramatic but it is a fairly disheartening feeling to be here ‘alone’ in a sense. Today has been an easy day at the hospital because it is not a clinic day so as soon as I am finished here - I will be going to nap!
Last night 3 people arrived. A doctor who is on faculty at some Tennessee medical school, a famly medicine resident and a lab technician. They are nice and they will be good teachers which is so refreshing because teaching is one thing I haven’t had. The doctor rounded with me some this morning on the wards and already is so helpful. I saw 70 patients in clinic yesterday and I anticipate tomorrow to be almost as busy but maybe a bit better. There were 4 of us seeing patients all day long and I am definitely the slowest, so I want to say there were over 400 people here yesterday to be seen. To make yesterday even more complex, I had a translator that doesn’t like her job (I think) because she doesn’t really pay attention to anything I ask her to ask the patient. Its funny at times, I will say “Lahari, will you ask the patient how long she has been having these symptoms?” She will talk to the patient and laugh or just chat a while and then stop. She doesn’t give me an answer so I say, “what did she say?” and her reply to me is “yes” or “no” which is clearly not an appropriate response to my original question. Comical and frustrating but honestly a lot of the translators do this at times because I think they forget after a while what our question was.
Onward. I should tell you about the weekend a bit. One story I love is this. I was sitting on the couch in my house on Sunday morning reading my bible. I was on call at the hospital so I couldn’t really leave the compound to go to church. Everyone else was gone. Shane had gone to a village on a motobike with one of the chaplains, Fatou. As I have mentioned before, the kids love to hang out on our porch which I am totally used to but there was this one girl who crossed her boundaries and opened the screen door. They are not supposed to come into the houses. She quickly shut it and right as I was about to get upset with her for opening the door, she began to sing Jesus loves the little children all by herself. I realized that she was just wanting me to come talk with her and singing was the way she was going to win my heart. So far, Elizabeth and I have asked a lot of kids to sing church songs with us so they know we love it when they sing. It was completely adorable and when I went out there I was invited to come to their church. They walked down to our house to see if I wanted to come with them. Sweet kids. I really couldn’t go, so this Sunday I told them to come get me and I will go with them and I will.
Once everyone got back from various churches, the boys played soccer for a while and Elizabeth and I found some construction paper to write the letters to ‘merry christmas’ on and have the kids hold them and take a picture with us. So we paused the soccer game, took and picture and are planning to send it out as Christmas cards. YAH! Shane ended up rolling his ankle which is still swollen today. I am sure he tore some ligaments or something. He said that instead of stepping on the bottom of his foot, he basically stepped on the outside of his ankle - it was that internally rotated. I hope he takes care of it…hint hint. If you are reading this, you really should do something about it if it isn’t improving.
So Sunday morning I started to read through Jeremiah. This is what the Lord encouraged and strengthened me with that morning. The Lord had spoken to Jeremiah and Jeremiah was very uncomfortable and not confident with his calling to speak and basically change the world with what the Lord will hand over to him. So this starts with Jeremiah’s response to the Lord. “Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth. But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afriad of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.” Jer. 1:6-8 And then also: “Do not be dismayed before them or I will dismay you before them.” vs. 17b yikes. AND “They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” vs. 19. I was encouraged, strengthened and also convicted at the same time about everything I had read. Sometimes I am afriad to say what I feel I should, out of fear that either #1 it will get lost in translation or #2 they will not understand what I am really trying to say. I know those fears are not worth not doing what the Lord has me here for but they get in the way nonetheless. So - with that being said I was encouraged by the Word of the Lord as it does so well.
Anyway, I have a few kids outside waiting on me and I think I will go and talk with them a while before dinner. They just handed me a letter before I came into the school house and it says this: “May the Grace of your Lord Jesus Christ your Lord and King be cares your forrever and ever amen.” Adam, Unice, Joana and Doris. I loved the typos and I was actually near crying on the way over here as I was walking and right at that time these kids ran up behind me to hand me my letter. Once again, just another small footprint from a God with unsizable shoes.
I love you all and wish you health and happiness with your families that you have so close. May you not take for granted the time you have with them - cherishing every moment as if it were your last with them - sharing the Gospel until understanding is met and praying fervently for those whom you love that are lost. I am praying for all of you that you may be encouraged by His word as I will be during a solitude time here in the middle of nowhere at some place called Nilerigu. Until later….if anyone talks to or sees Shane when he gets back tomorrow night, please hug him and love on him while I am away. Surely this will be difficult for the both of us.