TEAM UGANDA: CLINIC DAY ONE
Words escape me as I try to write this to adequately express what I’ve seen and experienced today at our first day of clinic. We drove 1.5- 2 hours to a very rural village in the Masindi-Kitara region of Uganda. The road to travel there was not an easy one. The roads are strictly clay and rock with lots of holes and hills. Since it rained last night, the roads were muddy and difficult to drive through in some places. On the way to the village, every child we passed waved and squealed with glee to see us! The Ugandan children exude a pure joy like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There is just something so special about their innocence. They were on every turn on the side of the road. When I asked our driver, Happy John, what they were all doing, he replied “picking white ants to eat.” White ants are an insect that crawl in the clay. If the young children weren’t picking ants to eat, they were walking with water jugs or playing with each other outside their huts made of clay.
When we finally arrived at the village, there was over 500 Ugandan villagers lined up waiting to be seen by us. I got out the van speechless. My heart broke knowing we would have to turn more than half of them away; they all need and deserve quality healthcare. We set up our stations and were ready to see the first patient and the next thing I saw left me utterly speechless and broke my heart all over again:
The first patient came sliding in like a snake on his belly on a cut up gasoline bottle. He was using his arms and pushing his body as if he were riding a wave on a boogie board. He could not walk or even crawl. He was using the only resource he had to get around. It turns out, this patient had Polio, a disease that is rarely talked about and completely eradicated in the US. Luckily, we were able to provide some treatment for him and a wheelchair for him to get around in. Something so simple that we take for granted was life changing for this patient. The next patient came hobbling in with a stick as a crutch because he was bitten by a snake a few months ago and the bite had become infected. The next patient I saw was a 9 month old baby that only weighed five pounds. FIVE. The next patient was a mentally disabled, fully developed female who was crawling on all fours. Then, there was the patient who had a keloid the size of his head hanging from his chin. Then, there were the too-many-too-count cases of malaria- children so sick and lethargic they couldn’t even keep their eyes open standing up, children so malnourished. I could list out almost every patient’s ailment. No matter big or small, common or uncommon, every single patient was important. From the farmers and diggers who didn’t have shoes and were suffering from arthritis to the full-term pregnant mothers who had not received any prenatal care to the mother with an infected tooth. Every one of their problems mattered. Sadly, most of them preventable.
Overall, we saw and treated 187 patients today. As much as we may have changed their lives today, those 187 patients changed my life today. They challenged me, they taught me, they hugged me, they laughed with me, they thanked me. Once we had finished for the day, I got the chance to hangout with the children and play music for them and dance with them. They were genuinely so happy. These children warmed my heart and started to heal the broken pieces of it. As I got in the van to leave them, I felt a pang of sadness and wonder. What would happen to them? Would they be okay? I didn’t want to leave them. They blew me kisses goodbye and waved with joy as if they had known me my whole life and I were their best friend. They made me really think and evaluate life and the world back home. To be thankful for EVERY single thing I have. To not take anything for granted. To be happy and rejoice in the Lord and all of His blessings.
Today, my life changed in ways I still don’t even know yet.
+ Megan LaTorre, Physician Assistant Student
TEAM UGANDA: SUNDAY FUNDAY
Forty-three near strangers boarded planes on Friday. Many had never been out of the country, some had traveled to Europe and only a few had been to Africa. Although I’ve been here for a full day I find it hard to describe what I’ve seen.
To help you conceptualize the beginning of our journey, envision boarding 3 planes, landing in three continents, crossing the equator twice and sleeping approximately 1 hour. Next, imagine waking up after a two hour nap to drive hours away to MKMC-only stopping on the side of the road to smell fresh mint and to take pictures of a giant 6 foot ostrich. Picture smiling diaperless toddlers, the glorious Lake Victoria, fearless men steering their ‘boda boda’s (motorbikes), cows heads hanging from street corners in preparation to cook and the only dogs here being wild….
Although we are now somewhat adjusted to Africa’s restless schedule, our real journey will start tomorrow at our outreach site. We expect to see between 100-200 patients; providing anything we can from prescriptions, physical therapy, optometry and even prayer.
As I look around the dinner table I see everyone’s dark circles forming under their eyes but every single person is smiling.
+ Haley Sedgwick, Nursing Student
Photo by MWLindstrom for OneWorld Health
TEAM NICARAGUA: FREE DAY
As I reflect on this past week, I am truly amazed at how fast the week has went by. Time flies by when you are working along side such amazing people serving the sweet people of Nicaragua. This trip has been such a blessing to me in so many ways. I am a quiet observer and soak in everything around me. There was so much good stuff to soak up every minute of this trip!
So refreshing to be around such a wonderful team just by simply trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Everyone did it so beautifully with their individual gifts. Thank you to everyone on this team for being such wonderful role models for our three 18 and under crew. What wonderful seeds that we have planted this week!
I can’t say enough about what great ministries OneWorld Health and Christian Surfer’s are. Putting them to together made for the most amazing team and mission trip.
If you are reading this blog to get a glimpse of what a trip with OneWorld Health would be like as I did…don’t hesitate. You will truly be blessed. You are in exceptional hands. I can’t say enough about the staff- they are organized and smooth running.
+LeAnn Hunt, Homemaker
I have been catching a glimpse of the rest of my life in this place. My entire week in Nicaragua has simply felt like the first day of the rest of my life. I want to continue to be vulnerable and focus on the person placed in front of me each day no matter where I am. I want to give my life away because I can’t help but share the love I have because of Christ in me. I want to love wildly; to love without abandon. I have truly experienced abundant life in this place. My team has made it so easy to see what it truly means to live radically and love fully.
Today was our last day in Nicaragua, so I had the privilege of stepping back and reflecting on all I have experienced. I must say, I am in awe of the joy that manifests itself in this beautiful country. I adore the bright colors and music that seems to always be playing. On our very first day at clinic the church was filled with blue balloons, and I was struck by how striving to live and love like Jesus is truly a fiesta. It is exciting to see what He has in store for our lives and how each day has a special beauty of its own. Living life with God is a continuous adventure. God reveals Himself in the gentle moments if we simply take the time to notice. After all, this life is pretty rad.
Luckily, this week has given me the time to notice the gentle pleasures God gifts us with each day. I have enjoyed waking up to go surfing at 5:15 each morning before clinic. I have loved the time with my teammates early each morning as we pray on the beach and have fun out in the water surfing together. Spending time with God each morning while surfing each morning is honestly insane. There is something so humbling about the vastness and power of the ocean. That rush of adrenaline I have experienced as I charged waves has given me a glimpse of both the power and mercy of God. It is absolutely insane to think He created me for a purpose. All of the people serving along side me in Nicaragua are not here by chance. God has intentionally put us together for a specific purpose. I have enjoyed our chemistry and our ability to simply have fun as we surf and serve.
Tonight, we ended our final night in Nicaragua with a party. We enjoyed traditional Nicaraguan dishes and a Mariachi band. As my teammates and I laughed and danced I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what it means to love recklessly and live abundantly. Perhaps this is what it means to build God’s kingdom here. Oh, to be so overcome with God’s wild love that we can’t help but dance and laugh! This is joy. This is abundant life. It is such a gift! I want to love this beautifully for the rest of my life. I know I will never change the world on my own, but by saying yes to let God use me He can make a change. I have seen Him work through my teammates this week. By the same token, I want to look at the life of Jesus and say, “If He gave His life to love people and go after the one, then so will I.” His love is absolutely wild.
+Emily Hunt, High School Student