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MMT - Tanzania Day 4: Wednesday, April 13, 2016

There is this song that just keeps replaying in my mind: “I bless the rains down in Africa,” thanks to the band Toto. And it is pretty fitting. Rains watered the earth for most of last night, but nothing like the extent of the flood waters from earlier in the week. Today brought heavy afternoon showers and light rains tonight, lots of cloudy skies and no mountains to be seen. A very lush landscape, though, and corn fields with noticeable growth over the week!

The morning errands brought another trip to the pharmacy, and I ventured along with Shara for the experience. The pharmacy itself is very similar to those in the U.S. However, a person can walk in and obtain any medication they want without having a prescription. Can you imagine what an impact this type of pharmacy system would have in America?

Morning at the clinic began with Pastor Dave from our MMT leading devotions with the healthcare team and those patients waiting for clinic to open. The worship time began with a local pastor calling out a hymn number. He had his hymnal, but those waiting in the crowd did not. And they amazingly began singing from memory! Those singing added depth with their harmonies as well. Just a beautiful way to begin the day.

Pastor Dave leading devotions prior to clinic.
Boy waiting patiently.
Singing and devotions prior to clinic.

This third day of clinic was another successful day. We provided care for 197 patients and even were able to provide some follow-up wound care to patients seen prior in the week. It is just amazing to me how patient the individuals are as they wait their turn to be seen. The children play and entertain themselves for hours with no interventions. The adults wait quietly, follow directions and interact amicably. I cannot help but think what this would look like in the U.S. Very different, I imagine! The children are just precious. The patient population was diverse again today, and we provided care for a wide variety of diagnoses including high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars, ear wax build up, fungal infections and hygiene-related issues.

Twin boys at clinic.
Kimberly weighing a boy skeptical of the process.
Very happy little girl at clinic.
Tana triaging a mother and daughter.
Marlene triaging a boy and his mother.

Sharon today did meet and treat a five-month old girl presenting with a runny nose and cold-like symptoms. The little girl had been sick for a while with this congestion and respiratory infection and had been taken to a witch doctor several weeks prior, where the prescribed treatment was to cut the girl's side to drain out the fluid and congestion. What a contrast in treatment styles between witchcraft and modern medicine! Despite all of this, the girl is still quite happy and received treatment today. Another memorable moment from the day was when a child presented with a baby tooth that was not quite falling out despite the adult tooth coming in. One of the RNs pulled the baby tooth out of the way while the boy stood motionless and very stoic. Afterward Shara pulled a Tanzanian shilling coin out of her bag, explained how the tooth fairy works in the United States, and handed the boy the coin. He was grinning from ear to ear!

Sharon and the girl originally treated by witch doctor.
Mary and the boy who proudly had his tooth pulled.

Our lunch meals this week have been provided by several women from the Uchira LCEA church we attended on Sunday, and these same women cook meals each week for the seminary students. The women work all morning in a church kitchen that is very different from those we have back home, and they put together meals to feed twenty to thirty people. Each day in the late morning they provide a tea and coffee break with bread as a snack. I believe this practice originates from British roots (they drive on the left side of the road in Tanzania, too). Then, in the early to mid-afternoon, we have a meal of some combination of rice, potatoes, cooked green bananas, a meat with sauce, a coleslaw, fresh avocado, watermelon and small bananas. The flavor is quite tasty! Breakfast and dinner meals have been served here at the hotel. There are eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and fruits for breakfast. Dinner is ordered off the menu. We are enjoying a wide selection of items including fish, brick oven pizza, chicken, soup and desserts. We are all still waiting to have ugali!

Morning tea and coffee break.
Seminary kitchen out behind the building.
Kitchen stoves for preparing meals.
Seminary kitchen sink.

Tomorrow will bring another full day of clinic as we already have patients who received numbers to see us tomorrow morning. We look forward to another day of living out our faith through the works God has prepared for us to do.

Patients waiting to be seen at clinic.

“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?