Team A started at the prison today and it was a powerful trip indeed. They have fewer inmates there now than last time, only about 150 total. It was still overwhelming, moving, and powerful to be there. Pastor Steve gave a wonderful sermon to the inmates. I prepped him before we spoke on MJC’s/Munthali’s opinion that as many as 40% or more are innocent and he preached right on target. Added to the mix this time was that there were little children there – two or three who were no more than toddlers. Their mothers had none to care for them outside of jail, and the orphanages are so overfull, the mothers are raising them in jail. It was hard to see.
Next we went to Mzuzu Central Hospital and gentlemen…it has been a while since I have been in a situation like this one. First off – the Taiwan Medical Mission, Dr. Joseph and all of them are simply amazing. Not only did they provide lunch for us, this day, but will be hosting all 17 Mzuzu team members for dinner on Wednesday night.
We went to the children’s ward, Dr. Bong gave us a brief orientation, and then as we went into the main ward and began speaking with the head doctor, a mother began to scream from the center of her heart. A baby who we had just seen had died. The team was blown away and unsure what to do – so I directed them all to a bed and said to begin praying for them. I then help Dr. Bong set up the screen and to confirm the child had died. It was a scene. The poor mom had to be dragged from her child and sat on the floor next to a child’s bed of a friend.
We got the team from that room to the next and then sat on the floor with the mother and held her as her friends spoke with her. No big words, no platitudes – I just held her. The team went to the next ward with children who have lymphoma. They have to close this ward soon due to lack of funding and lack of medicine. If they had the medicine, 50% of the children could survive. I then grabbed Pastor Steve and asked him to sit with the mother some more and pray for her.
After more singing, candy giving, and the normal fair – we then all donned plastic gowns and gloves and mopped the entire children’s ward – though, we all joked, not as effectively or as fast as the two nurses could have. We got lots of laughs from patients, nurses, and the children’s mothers. After a trip to the Rainbow Clinic, the team sat and sorted medicine into individual doses for HIV/AIDS patients with other staff members. We sorted 15,000 pills – a job that normally is done by Malawian volunteers – so it was a real help. Pastor Steve prayed over the pills, that each one would help the men, women, and children who received them.
Today started early – around 6:30am for food delivery. We got the team out – consolidated into the bus, though it was sticky and hot and cramped – Pastor and I thought it would be fun to journey all together. On our way to the first location, a bicyclist in front of us crashed into someone else as he tried to pass him on the road. Oudriver could not help but hit one of the guys. I thought at first we ran him over, but thank God it was not so. He was a bloody mess. We gasped in shock and everyone just was stunned. I jumped from the back seat of the bus and ran out to the side of the road. I did my best to remember my field medicine training at Xavier, and it worked. I got some blood on me – so did our diver. Luckily, two of the women had gloves and gave them to me quickly through the windows.
I check his breathing, his eyes, checked for broken bones, lung punctures from broken ribs, and got him as stable as I could, but he was in shock. Ya-Mei got on the phone, called the ambulance and the police – but you know how that goes. I tried to clean the many wounds on his face and body. We got him on his stomach and in the sun to keep warm. A mini bus pulled up – we cleared the back and our driver and some villagers got him into the bus.
We then followed the minibus to the next town (Ekwendeni) and went to the police station. It looked like we were going to be spending the day explaining things to the magistrate, when a family member of this guy showed up with some of the villagers and said it was this guys’ fault – hands down. So, we made a statement and went to the hospital. I thought the guy was sure to have a concussion from the ooze coming from his ears. The ER doctor was impressed with our efforts and said he would take care of it from there as the gentleman was already being checked in.
At that point we had lost about 2 and a half hours – so we canceled the first part of the day and just headed off for the second location. The problem was that without air conditioning – the 2 hour drive in a crowded bus was difficult. I am proud to say not one, not for one moment, complained. We joked and laughed and had a blast, though we were all pretty much miserable. We got to the distribution location and it was this tiny little orphan care center out in the middle of no where. Most had never seen an American before and many of the children were screaming in fear (literally) because the were a) hungry, b) scared of white people, and c) thought we might take them away.
So, we tried to clam them down and after greeting the village chief, we unloaded the 100 cartons of soup for these 60 some children (about 5000 meals). Ya-Mei and I then got the women of the village together. While the rest of the team played soccer, sang songs, handed out candy to the children, etc., we explained how to prepare the soup, noted the 6-day boaster meals, and how to transition into a once a day supplement. We also focused on their ability to add whatever ingredients they would like to add for taste. It was good.
We then headed home and on the way, stopped off at the hospital to check on the guy we hit. We decided to buy him a new bike to pick up at the mission center he has recovered. It felt good to know that God put me here on this trip to do more than hold hands… I feel like God really flowed through me and helped me take charge when it was needed.
As it always is – the mission trip was magical. Each moment was blessed and important and just ordained by God. Though I am ready to come home and have done much – it will be sad to go. I am sorry these E-mails are so long. I don’t know if I am journaling or writing the two of you any more… but thanks for you patience in reading through it. Tomorrow go to the lake to relax and do a little de-fraging. Take care guys – I love and respect you much.