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MMT - Tanzania Summary

Since 2006, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Mercy Medical Teams have provided desperately-needed health care to thousands of patients in underserved regions around the globe. This short-term volunteer program offers medical professionals opportunities to volunteer abroad in a variety of clinical and health-related settings. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other types of medical professionals, pastors and hard-working laity are coordinated and trained into specific Mercy Medical Teams, which work in conjunction with LCMS partner churches and international clinics to address needs of both body and soul.

The LCMS Mercy Medical Team from the United States arrived safe and sound in Tanzania on Saturday April 9 tired, worn and with much anticipation after over 24 hours of travel. We were welcomed by Shara Cunningham (LCMS missionary to Eastern and Southern Africa) and Bishop Jesse Angowi from the Lutheran Church of East Africa (LCEA). We then took a short drive to the town of Moshi where we would stay for the week. A restful night was had by all.

Sunday morning brought breakfast on the veranda and then a trip to Uchira to worship with fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters in Christ. The church building is open air with a tin roof, metal framework in the windows and blue pastic chairs as pews. The team split up and took seats on both sides of the church. The service was led by LCEA pastors from Taveta, Uchira and Himo. Pastor Dave from the United States also participated in the service. The order of service followed the liturgical order common in our home LCMS churches and even some of our familiar hymns were sung, such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." Scripture verses were read in both Swahili and English (for our benefit). Pastor Dave from our Mercy Medical Team provided the sermon and was able to tie the message into our trip. The comparison was that our team continues to hear that Mt. Kilimanjaro is here in Tanzania, and we believe them even though we have not seen the mountain. This is similar to our belief in God. We cannot see Him and yet we continue to believe and trust in Him. One of the local pastors translated the sermon into Swahili so all could receive the message. Church concluded with warm greetings and welcomes by the congregation.

Pastor David gives the sermon as Pastor Peter translates.
Bishop and pastors from the LCEA and Pastor David from the LCMS.
The ladies after church.

A Visit to the Site and to Moshi

After church the team made a quick visit to the clinic site at St. Peter’s Lutheran Seminary in Himo. Afterwards we were out and about in Moshi.

Clinic site.
Bishop Angowi and Pastor Luca pose for a quick picture with Shara at the seminary.
Out and about in Moshi.
The busy streets of Moshi.

The Clinic Begins …

It is the start of the rainy season In Tanzania. The rains start in the early morning hours and continue on and off throughout the day. “Rainy season” lives up to its name here! It rained every day. 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. It is a normal part of life for them. With the bus loaded up with bags of donated supplies, we headed to the clinic site at the LCEA seminary.

Rainy morning as we head to the clinic site.
Life continues, even in the rain.
A little laughter to start the day.

Join Us at the Clinic

The Mercy Medical Team (MMT) consisted 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 patients first arrived at the clinic they were checked in by a local Tanzanian (registrar), who wrote the patient’s name and age on a medical record paper. The patient then had their weight taken and was triaged by a nurse and translator (often a Tanzanian nurse) who took vital signs and investigate the patient's chief complaint. The patient was then seen by the doctor and could have additional tests or treatment completed, such as malaria and HIV testing, wound care, urine tests, blood sugar test, and injections of antibiotics. Finally the patient filled their prescriptions at the pharmacy.

Mornings at the clinic began with Pastor David from the MMT, assisted by the pastors of the LCEA, leading devotions for the healthcare team and the 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.

Bishop John and Pastor David say a prayer to start the day.
Those waiting for the clinic join in singing hymns.
Pastor David shares a message of hope in Christ.
Bishop Angowi assists with translation as Pastor David reads scripture.

Registration

Pastor David helps register patients with one of the pastors from the LCEA.
Patients hold tightly to their registration form as they wait to be seen.
The registration station.

Vital Signs and Triage

Nurse Marlene asks the patient what her chief complaints are.
Nurse Tana (USA) and nurse Frank (Tanzania) does triage.
Nurse Kimberly explains to her little patient what she is doing.
Nurse Julia (Tanzania) takes chief complaints from her patient.

Consultation, Treatment and Pharmacy

After vitals were taken and chief complaints were given, patients wait to be seen by the doctor. Depending on the situation some patients went to the treatment areas for injections or wound cleaning and dressing. The final station was the pharmacy, where they received medication.

Part of the pharmacy.
Tanzanian pharmacists filling prescriptions.
Nurse Mary (Tanzania) removes this boy's tooth in the treatment area.
Shara and Dr. Cliff (Tanzania) at the entrance to the pharmacy. Dawa is the swahili word for medicine.

The Clinic Comes to a Close

At the end of the week, the first Mercy Medical Team clinic in Tanzania was a success. We were able to serve and treat 1,025 patients, collaborate with local healthcare providers, serve with members of the Lutheran Church of Africa and share our faith with the people of Tanzania. The clinic is now closed. The supplies are packed away, and the seminary in Himo will return to educating Lutheran pastors of the future. However, this American team has left a lasting impression here in Tanzania, and the beautiful people of Tanzania have filled our hearts. To God be the glory!

Ladies wait patiently to be registered.
Sharon Thomas, MMT team leader, makes a new friend.
Adorable little faces.
People waiting to go to the vital signs and triage stations.
More about the Missouri Synod’s Mercy Medical Teams.

“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?