We got back from Zambia this week and I found some time to gather my footage and attempt to give you guys a picture of what we did there.
One thing that struck me was that mission work isn’t swooping in and saving lives everyday. There are a lot of mundane days where you just do your job faithfully. Then, when an opportunity arises to impact a life, everything is in place and you’re ready to seize the opportunity. From the finances, to the logistics, to intercultural relationships, to language learning, the road to being an effective missionary is a long one. It seems that instead of galloping down that path, many missionaries find themselves wearily trudging. Just like first time marathon runners, the inexperienced missionaries find themselves out front early in the race chiding the ones behind them for not running faster. I’ve been that judgemental missionary more than once.
We visited Mikunge Mission Hospital and talked to Dr. Allan Sawyer who volunteers at the hospital for several months at a time. It’s important to maximize the amount of time he spends at the hospital. Some patients have to travel for days to arrive at the hospital. Imagine if there wasn’t a doctor there that week or that month. Those people would have to spend a few days traveling home again. They would have to try again later while praying their condition doesn’t worsen. Flying volunteer staff into the hospital helps maximize the time the volunteers are doing the important work they’re trained to do, and not wasting time traveling.
Not all patients require a skilled surgeon and there are national doctors that work at the hospital. But they rarely, if ever, get a break. Part of Allan’s ministry as a traveling doctor is relieving permanent hospital staff. He told us a story of a midwife sleeping in the delivery room and only going home on weekends. She was absolutely exhausted. It’s not like they get financially rewarded either. One of the anesthesiologists at the hospital has to take time off to farm so he has enough food to feed his family. Imagine an anesthesiologist in the States having to do that!
It’s not as if the staff doesn’t have any skill. Mikunge Mission Hospital is known as one of the best hospitals in the region. The staff does an incredible job for the resources they have. They’re all heroes in my book.
Thank you to everyone out there supporting us in this adventure. It means the world to our family.