This morning I witnessed the drastic difference between life and death.
During the ususal busy morning routine, a man in a coma was brought in by concerned family members. The story was nothing dramatic, he had fallen when he got up early that morning. In this culture, the concept of a medical history is non-existant. When he arrived he was cold, taking raspy breaths and unresponsive. All efforts were done to resusitate him, but unfortunately he did not make it. He met his Creator mid morning as the daily routine of life continued around him. I stood in prayerful silence holding back tears as I watched the family members sandwhich the body between themselves, riding back to their village on a motorcycle. Can you imagine the heartache they must feel? How precious life is.
Later in the morning as we were examining the inpatients, a little boy walked into the room with a wide grin. This little boy, just about five days prior, was in a cerebral malaria coma. His smile melted my heavy heart. How much gratitude I felt for the wellbeing of this child. Graças a Deus! Tim has said many times, seeing people overcome their illness is what keeps the motivation of a servant heart.
Later, a woman stuck her paperwork through the open window. When Tim invited her into the room, I immediately recognized her as the fistula patient who we flew back to Cavango. She ran to me, embracing me with a gigantic hug and a double cheek kiss. She is completely symptom free and is back to living her life as normal as possible. The Fistula Foundation is making such an impact on the lives of many women!
Earlier in the week, Tim, two of the nurses and I went on a road trip to a big city called Huambo which is about 4 hours north of Cavango. Getting to Huambo is an adventure all in itself. The roads are bumpy and a tad hazardous. We set out before dawn to make good time. The drive was enjoyable, with a colorful sunrise and every turn revealing more beautiful landscape. I am now very efficient of using nature as my toilet. The drive went smoothly until we got stuck. You see, the day before it poured, leaving the roads incredibly muddy and slick. We reached a stretch of the road that is notorious (meaning Tim has been stuck there before) for being rather tricky. I joked that Tim wanted to give me the full African experience. He said ‘What is life with no risk?’
We tried just about everything: Sticks under the tires, using a jack and rocking the car. I was not really much help, but I felt rather tough with all the mud caked on my shoes and clothes. Just as we were running out of ideas, we decided to jack up the back of the car and hope to push the car over it. Guess who got to drive the car? Yours truly. After a lot of man power (literally) and a great driver (not really), we were able to back out of the rut. Definitly answered prayers.
On the way into the city, we passed a lake. Becuase appearance plays a large role in Angolan culture, we stopped to get the car washed before entering Huambo. We did not want to appear as if we came from ‘the bush.’ We just hoped no one looked at our clothes.
Humabo is a large city, similar to Lubango. I experienced another market (called the ‘praça’) to buy some produce and eggs. We sampled the local street meat (fried chicken and maybe the organs too?) bread, and coca-cola. The reason we made the trip was to buy medications for the clinic. The Farmacia had cases of medication that were available on display. While Tim made the purchases, I spent the time looking at all the medication labels. The best way I can describe them is that they looked like knock-off brand lables. I chuckled as the ibuprofen was labed ‘pain release’ and sitting next to the malaria tests was the Vizzgra (aka Viagra). Unfortunately, the price of medications has increased and the good malaria medications were not available. We were able to make some good purchases though, making the trip absolutely worth it.
The drive back was uneventful, but slow because it had rained all day. I am incredibly thankful for the grace of safe travels.