- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 16 March 2017 16 March 2017
Sunrises and sunsets are a beautiful part of the day here in Madagascar. The sun appears just before 6:00 AM each day, and the sun sets near 6:00 PM. Our day began a bit slower as our team is beginning to feel the effects of travel, busy days and sleeping in a new environment. Breakfast and morning devotions brought some rejuvenation. The French pastries and eggs are certainly a morning treat!
Today we traveled to the town of Andranomanelatra, a twenty minute or so drive from the guesthouse in Antsirabe. When we unloaded the van, we discovered that it was market day on the path where the church is located. Through exploration we discovered that you can purchase anything from vegetables, fruits, clothes, cell phones, toys, brooms and even live fish for your rice paddy. Though tempting, we did not purchase any items. We were probably a spectacle to the Malagasy people as we explored their market.
Upon entering the Lutheran church we discovered that the pews were full of patients waiting for our arrival. The church pastors had collected the patients' medical records as a form of pre-registration. Patient names were called so they could collect their records, and then our MMT team handed out our paper medical records for the day. We capped the patients to be seen at 500 to ensure we have enough supplies and medications for the week. Once we created a plan, we opened the day with worship of singing and prayer with those in attendance. The waiting patients sang a beautiful hymn that was harmonized and glorious. Hymnals are not used and many Malagasy cannot read, so the hymns are sung from memory. The power of the singing and praise is amazing.
Clinic went smoothly again today. We officially provided care for 467 patients. Each team member maintained similar roles as we wanted to maintain the flow and efficiency. The people waiting maintained great patience even though we sent them outside to wait to set the clinic up inside the church, took a break for lunch and had them wait several hours to receive treatment. The quietness inside the building is impressive with the amount of people. Lisa again provided health education to the children regarding brushing teeth, hand washing and even dancing the hokey pokey.
The universal care of mothers for their children was noticeable today. They stay right with them and make sure all of the symptoms and concerns are covered. We are observing that the patients come dressed in multiple layers of clothes even though it is close to eighty degrees outside. It is just amazing they are not too hot! Some of the main diagnoses and concerns seen today included allergies, high blood pressure, ear and eye infections and fungal skin infections. Several developmentally delayed and disabled children came through today. The lack of services for these children is difficult to fathom. One elderly woman came through today who is 98 years old! She still farms the land and proudly said she is the only one like her in her village. One young boy was referred to the Lutheran hospital for surgery to remove a growing cyst on his wrist. Another woman is being referred for removal of a growth that is near her eye.
A highlight of the day was when the church bells rang at noon. The bells rang to the hymn "A Might Fortress is Our God." It would have been great to have all of the patients begin singing along! Lunch breaks are a good time to regain our energy. The American team has a packed lunch of sandwich fixings and cookies while the Malagasy team has rice and a meat prepared for them by the local congregation. We are all able to dine together and share fellowship.
This evening we took another shopping field trip to a place that makes papyrus paper, gift cards and other goods. This same shop creates wonderful silk scarves. It is amazing how affordable the handmade goods are here in Madagascar, and the time spent creating them is immense. Our evening dinner was a treat once again as we dined on sausage, mashed potatoes, cabbage slaw, vegetables, and fruit for dessert. The food has been simply wonderful. Following we tiredly repacked the bags and counted medications in preparation for the clinic tomorrow. The night ended in a bit of adventure as a rainstorm came through that brought lots of moisture and took the power out for a bit. This reminded us of the days of summer camps. The sound of rain on the roof is a calming end to the day.
“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?