My last few days in Angola were spent in Tchincombe conducting clinics with Tim. Even though ‘The Ranch’ is about an hour flight to the SE of Lubango, the climate is sandy and hot. The mission of the Ranch is to teach the villagers sustainable business (cattle!) and to help spread the word of God. When we arrived early Monday morning, we were greeted by about a hundred people waiting to see the doctor. As we began to set up, tractors full of people arrived from neighboring villages.
Tim started the morning by gathering the villagers and sharing in a conversation about physical and spiritual health. The people asked insightful questions about malaria, giardia and the worms that so many believe live inside them.
My most memorable moment was after Tim read aloud the Gospel of Luke – the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). He was trying to emphasize that a relationship with our Lord is very personable and requires time to sit at the feet of Jesus and be fully present to Him speaking. One of the elderly women raised her voice and asked how that could be possible, since she could neither read nor write, lacking access to a bible. Tim paused, then sat on the sandy ground next to the man who was interpreting Portuguese to their tribal language. Tim emphasized that the most critical part of forming a relationship with Jesus Christ does not require the gospel (although it helps!), but it does require an open heart, not being distracted by the busy tasks of life. Just as he sat at the feet of the interpreter, so can everyone sit at the feet of Jesus, listening and talking to our Creator.
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
By far, the majority of the men, women and children were sick with malaria. Others had viral colds, gastritis and sinusitis. I was able to perform ultrasounds on pregnant patients, getting better and better at finding fetal gender. It is tricky to do! Many patients did not even know their age. A few of the women presenting to the clinic were wearing their traditional tribal apparel, which was incredibly interesting to witness. Lots of beads in their hair and draped around their chest. Some cloth covered their waist.
I worked alongside Tim for the first two days, but then had to travel back to Lubango to catch my flight back to America. Tim decided to extend his time in Tchincombe by an additional day in order to see everyone. Tim informed me that in total he had seen over 260 patients in those two and a half days. I am continuously amazed at the his gracious heart. He embodies what it means to fully embrace the work of the Lord.
Random side note: Brent, the MAF pilot, taught me how to fly the plane on our way back to Lubango. Such an adrenaline rush!
It was tough saying goodbye to Tim before leaving Tchincomeb and then Betsy and Meredith the following day. They have been instrumental in making my time in Angola incredibly insightful and life changing. The almost six weeks spent in various parts of a developing culture changed my life perspectives a great deal. Reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of the the Angolan culture has allowed me to examine my own culture with a more critical eye.