- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 19 March 2017 19 March 2017
Our day began later today and yet we were all still up early with the wildlife outside and the early sunrise. Today was cloudy, colder and drizzly. It was actually long-sleeve weather. Domoina's brother, our chef and the other assistants had our morning ready with French pastries and eggs. We completed our morning devotions and then headed north for about an hour drive toward Tana. We arrived at a large Malagasy Lutheran Church in the town of Ilempona.
The drive today offered majestic views again of the rice fields and agricultural land. The fields were full of workers today harvesting crops, tilling by hand and caring for their land. We drove through the area today where all of the apples are harvested, and the people were walking out onto the main road with full baskets of apples on their heads.
This particular church is large with beautiful stained glass windows, a tiled aisle and decorative altar with wood carvings on each side. The pulpit was in the shape of a chalice and was high up in the air, about fifteen stairs up, so that the pastor can reach the large congregation. Upon our arrival, the pastor began a brief church service of hymns and provided a brief homily to those waiting in the pews. He provided an analogy that us as foreigners are fatter and the Malagasy are skinnier because they have worms but that God will provide care. The pastor had a second analogy that some are physically sick but we are all sick with sin and have Jesus as our healer. One observation our team made this week is that faith is abundant here. We noticed people walking into the church and praying before receiving care.
Today we were able to provide care for 436 patients. We had a smooth, steady day. The team maintained the same roles so we could keep our rhythm. Common diagnoses were high blood pressure, seizures, fungal infections and lots of dental cavities. Several more patients were referred for surgical procedures including patients with a goiter, hernia and enlarged spleen. At the end of the day we were able to hand out extra children's vitamins and toothbrushes to the children. There was one little girl who was very chatty and kept coming back to Lisa to see what else she could get from her. She even offered a small amount of Ariary (the Malagasy currency) to exchange her old toothbrush for a new toothbrush. Then she came through the line a second time after she had washed the mark of her hand to get another toothbrush. Most of the children are quiet around us, so this little girl was quite the surprise. Today Lorrie was able to assist many patients with reading glasses. It seemed toward the end of the day that word spread in the village that reading glasses were available, so it seems we were able to help many read their Bibles and sew with more attention to detail.
Overall this week we were able to provide care to 2126 patients.
Healthcare here in Madagascar is actually quite expensive based on the monthly wage that most Malagasy make. The minimum wage in Madagascar is $30 per month. This does not mean that all people make this much money, though. The average wage for a nurse is $40 per month. To be hospitalized in a semiprivate room at the Lutheran hospital here on the property is $2.50 per day. The cost to stay in a private room is $5–$10 per day. There is additional cost for surgery, medication and other parts of the stay. The family provides care, foo and laundry for the patients. This means that hospitalization for a person would cost more than they make each month, and saving money or using the bank system is not part of daily life.
This evening we had some down time and were able to unpack all of the remaining supplies that will be left here in Madagascar and used at the hospital to care for the “poor” people who cannot afford care or medications. Pastor Jeff and Pastor Matt put together a divine service for our team tonight to end the week of clinics and service. Tomorrow we will experience the Malagasy Lutheran Church service, and we look forward to worshiping with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“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?