- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: 22 June 2017 22 June 2017
Teamwork is a large part of the success of Mercy Medical Team efforts. Strangers come together from congregations across the United States and meet up in a country to serve. Local team members join and work alongside us. Trust is understood. Care is provided. Lives are touched. Our team begins each day with a short devotion, and this morning we capped it off with a cheer of encouragement and unity to get us through the middle of the week.
We arrived at clinic a bit earlier today, and a crowd of people had formed to seek medical care from our team. The patience of the African people will never cease to amaze me. They will sit and wait patiently for hours or all day with little commotion or disgruntlement. Children will wait alongside parents with minimal fuss and will sit and observe their surroundings or play calmly without toys or electronic devices for distraction. Patience and appreciation seem to abound.
The clinic ran smoothly again today. We cared for 220 patients, and the day seemed to run more smoothly and efficiently. We have had the same local Tanzanian health care providers and church volunteers all week, which is helping this flow as well. Everyone from our team kept the same roles today and assisted with providing both spiritual and physical care to patients. Today Pastor Schulte took a break from praying with each patient as they exited the clinic. Instead one of the seminary students filled this role that Pastor Schulte modeled so well. It was encouraging to see the Tanzanian seminary student step in with passion and Lutheran theology in prayer with each individual. One goal is to make sure the local pastors are set up for success once our team departs as they will continue to be the hands and feet here on the ground in Tanzania for the people in the area who attended the clinic. Today brought encouragement that we can have an impact through those who are here continuing the outreach and work.
Each day for lunch two local women from a nearby Lutheran congregation have been preparing food for us. We eat rice, meat with sauce, cooked cabbage and watermelon each day. The entire team dines together in fellowship. This is a lot of work for these two women, and we appreciate their efforts and hard work.
Today brought a variety of patients once again. Our team treated a woman experiencing an asthma exacerbation. She had very little air moving in her lungs. The team was able to come together to provide medications intravenously and get her a breathing treatment. She left a bit better and received excellent education on how to use an inhaler from Daena with Swahili translation from one of the Tanzanian doctors. Another patient came to the clinic today because his wife went home and shared her health education lesson on STDs and knew that her husband needed to be treated as well. This is a sign that some of the education provided is being absorbed. A woman presented with infertility today, and this is a challenging topic in this culture and can lead to marital and societal challenges. One mother brought her two-year-old daughter who has a protruding umbilical hernia. Surgery is needed, and the mother just wanted to confirm this is the case. Finances for health care are challenging for many Tanzanians. Health care services need to be paid for upfront which is often not possible, and even if a person does have insurance, the wait times for procedures may be unrealistic. Another woman presented with a larger goiter she has had since 1970, which will also need surgery. Education was provided to many patients on the importance of continuing medications even if they feel healed or struggle to find access to them. Health education has turned into an opportunity for us this week through conversations. Many patients do not know what to expect from their body or what changes to expect as they age.
Patients are pre-registered to begin the clinic tomorrow. We look forward to a restful night and another meaningful day of clinic work tomorrow. Lala salama (goodnight) from Tanzania!
“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?