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MMT - Tanzania Day 2: Monday, April 11, 2016

Legend states that Mt. Kilimanjaro hides from those who are first time visitors to Tanzania. So far that legend is holding true. The rains started in the early morning hours today and continued until mid-morning. Rainy season lives up to its name here for sure. Throughout the day there were several downpours. The amazing part is that the Tanzanian people do not seem to be bothered. We observed them walking to school, work and out shopping. Some had umbrellas or scarves and others just kept moving. A normal day in April for them.

This morning we packed up our numerous bags of donated supplies and headed to the clinic site at the LCEA seminary in Himo. Upon arrival, the Tanzanian health care providers were already waiting for us. This was quite the surprise with African culture being that time is not a priority (rather, relationships are), so often people arrive late and engagements do not begin on time. Well, today it was the Americans who were living on African time! The day did begin a bit rocky and rough as we had to all come together with a common goal, set up the clinic and meet the needs of all involved. The healthcare team came together in prayer and then began setting up the various areas of the clinic

Laughter on the bus ride to clinic.
Patients patiently waiting at clinic.
Pastor Dave creating relationships with the children.

The American Mercy Medical Team (MMT) consists of five nurses and one pastor. The Tanzanian team joined us with several doctors, nurses who helped with intake and translation, registrars, a lab technician, an HIV counselor, pharmacists and pharmacy techs. When a patient first arrives at the clinic they are checked in by a local Tanzanian (registrar) who writes the patient's name and age on a medical record paper. The patient then has their weight taken and is triaged by a nurse and translator (often a Tanzanian nurse) who take vital signs and investigate the patient's chief complaint. Each patient also receives a medication at this point to help treat any worms they may have in their system. The patient is then seen by the doctor and can have additional tests or treatment completed, such as malaria and HIV testing, wound care, urine tests, blood sugar tests and injections of antibiotics. Finally the patient fills prescriptions at the pharmacy, which is full of medications purchased with team trip fees and donated over-the-counter medications. Throughout the day Bishop Jesse Angowi of the LCEA went outside and spoke with those patients waiting in line. He explained how the mercy medical clinic came about and shared the gospel message. Some great singing came from outside during this time, too!

Tana triaging a patient.
Lana checking in a patient.
Marlene in triage and later consultation.
Kimberly fitting reading glasses.
Shara hard at work in the pharmacy.

After the rather rough start to the day, the team really unified and became a cohesive unit. Though we are from different countries and cultures, we came together in Christ to do his work. The team members jumped right in, completed whatever was needed and began to form relationships with each other. The Tanzanian doctors shared that the patients today were very appreciative of this clinic. The providers really took their time with the patients as they wanted to make sure they did well by the LCEA. Interestingly, registered nurses in Tanzania can prescribe medications. Throughout the day, to improve efficiency, several of the American RNs worked alongside Tanzanian RNs in consultation and provided treatment and medications to patients (similar to how a nurse practitioner would in the US). The donated reading glasses became very popular throughout the day! I think we could have provided a pair to each individual, if able. Thankfully we found some very appreciative patients who can now have much improved reading capabilities.

Patients at the clinic.
Tanzanian RN checking in a patient.
Patient very happy with her new reading glasses.

By the end of the day we had seen 137 patients, and we were able to see all of the patients who came to the clinic. Today was market day in Himo, so we feel some people may have been busy preparing and shopping today. All of the rains today may have deterred some potential patients as well. We anticipate more patients to visit in the coming days.

Rainbow to remind us of God's promise.

Pastor Dave has been speaking about the rain as a reminder of our baptisms. Well tonight we stopped discussing baptism and moved on to Noah and the flood. Torrential rains came tonight and poured down. As we were all preparing for a restful night, our cottages that are downhill began to flood with brown water. It entered the cottages quickly and had its own current once doors were opened. Water was well over a foot deep in most rooms and beds were even floating in some. The hotel staff came to the rescue and moved us to the main hotel on the second floor where we are all resting for the night. We are secretly hoping these rains tonight were God's message that the clouds will part and Mt. Kilimanjaro will be out tomorrow (though the weather forecast might indicate otherwise).

Flood waters in the hotel entrance.

“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?