- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: March 15 2017 March 15 2017
Nighttime at the guesthouse in Antsirabe brings many new noises to get used to. It is kind of like the first night you sleep in a new home and need to get accustomed to it all. The nighttime sky is full of stars and a nearly full moon, and many dogs are barking. The morning sunrise brings roosters, chickens and geese getting ready for the day. Our bunks provided a safe place to revitalize, and the morning brought a breakfast treat of fresh French pastries. We then joined the Lutheran Hospital for morning devotions. The staff and visitors participate in this morning worship that is broadcast through a speaker system into the patient rooms so all can begin the day in song, prayer and praise.
Today began our service through a Mercy Medical Team clinic. Our team consists of five members from the United States, a team of two missionaries from Kenya, and then a group of Malagasy who work alongside us. For this round of Mercy Medical Team clinics in Madagascar all of the site locations are brand new. The Malagasy Lutheran Church is very excited about the MMTs and wants to begin expanding them into new towns to bring the medical care and the outreach for the church body. The bishop chose five new locations for our service this week. Today we traveled to the town of Toavala and set up our clinic in the Lutheran church there. The pastor, deacons and shepherds of the church were awaiting our arrival and had the church building all set up. This church is quite large and hosts a congregation of 500 members.
The day began with introductions and morning worship of prayer and singing with the waiting crowd of patients. The MMT clinic then began in full force. Pastor Tantely from Madagascar completed registration of the patients, obtained their weights and provided them with medication to treat worms. Three Malagasy nurses completed intake where they obtained blood pressure, heart rate and temperature for each patient. The patients then moved over to triage, where the two American nurses, LaDonna and Kimberly, asked the patients their chief complaints. Malagasy interpreters made triage possible. Two Malagasy doctors, including our host Dr. Harison, then assessed the patients and prescribed applicable medications. The patients then moved to the pharmacy to receive prescription medications purchased with trip fees and/or over the counter medications that were donated by generous congregations, families and friends. The pharmacy is a bustling place and was well organized and run by Domoina, Michelle, and Lorrie. Pastor Matt, Pastor Jeff and Lisa diligently counted and bagged medications. Health education is always an opportunity, and Lisa was able to share with the children how to brush their teeth and the importance of this hygiene practice. Pastor Matt was able to enjoy some time with the children and teach them how to throw an American football.
The clinic ran very smoothly today due to the organized patient flow set up by the host congregation. The church members were instrumental in guiding patients to the various areas and keeping the movement organized. We were able to provide care to 345 patients today. Common diagnoses included high blood pressure, gastritis, fungal skin infections, cough, respiratory illness and seizures. A couple patients presented with side effects related to untreated mumps. One child had lost hearing in one ear and another young girl had lost movement and functionality in one arm. Mumps are fairly common in Madagascar. Several patients were referred to the Lutheran hospital for surgery. Two patients will be following up for hernia repair. A third patient will be coming to Antsirabe to have bilateral cataract surgery at a local eye clinic. Funding from a LCMS grant will be used to pay for this man's cataract removal, which will allow him to see once again. The local church will be transporting this gentleman to Antsirabe for the procedure.
This evening brought some shopping and exploring in Antsirabe. We traveled to the gem market and enjoyed the many precious stones that are mined and sold here in Madagascar, including sapphire, amethyst, ruby and emerald. The second stop was a store where zebu horn is transformed into beautiful polished products. The demonstration explained the intricate process to create these goods and the attention to detail that is involved.
This evening provided time for reflection and discussion on the day and some exploration of God's word. We are packed and re-loaded with supplies for our second clinic tomorrow. We look forward to our day and our continued ability to sacrifice through our service to these wonderful Malagasy people.
“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?