My First Few Days In Zambia
June 12, 2011
Wow, what a journey! Houston to Amsterdam (9 hours), Amsterdam to Nairobi (9 hours), arrived late, slept for a few hours then back to the airport for a flight to Lilongwe, Malawi, then to Lusaka, Zambia (4 hours), then I hopped on a small Cessna 206 for a 3 ½ hour flight to Chitokoloki! Needless to say, I was glad to finally be “here”! Even though the journey was long, every segment was enjoyable, all my bags arrived with me (!) and I am excited to be here in far western Zambia.
The hospital is almost 100 years old! It was founded and is still run by Brethren missionaries, many from Ireland and Canada. It is very remote so people must travel great distances to receive care here. Each and every one of the missionaries has been so kind and helpful to me. It is so obvious that they have created a warm, caring, close, welcoming community of believers here at the mission compound.
My first day (Thursday) started with a bang. Dr. McAdams (the only missionary surgeon here) informed me that he was going to an outlying clinic to do surgery and left me “in charge” for the day. Quite a surprise! I did round on almost 100 patients that first day. We started early and finished late but it was a great orientation and “immersion” into where I will be working for then next month. There are no other full time doctors here, so Dr. McAdams and his team of nurses care for of all types of patients—obstetrics, pediatric and medical—in addition to taking care of all the surgical patients. So that first day I saw moms in labor, moms who had recently delivered babies, probably 20 children and adults with measles (outbreak recently), patients with malaria and typhoid and leprosy, just to name a few.
I so enjoyed rounding that first day with an Irish nurse named J.R. J.R. is an experienced midwife, an excellent surgical nurse and has great clinical skill in managing the patients she takes care of here in Africa. But her Irish accent, and the little phrases she uses can be SO difficult for this south Texas brain to understand. On rounds that first day, we came to a premature baby and were in the process of assessing why the child wasn’t gaining weight. J.R. picked up the little one, felt his tummy, looked at mum (mom) and said (in her Irish brogue), “I think he has wind and needs to spew”. I was totally clueless to what J.R. had just said to the mom. After a few minutes of difficult translation, I realized she had said, “I think he has gas and needs to burp”!
I did several cases, Friday including surgery on a man with a huge thyroid gland. All went well. Saturday was rounds most of the day and late in the afternoon a walk down to the beautiful Zambezi river (about ¼ mile from the cottage where I am staying). Special care was taken to avoid crocodiles (not kidding). And Sunday after rounds I attended the local church here at the mission where we took communion. As the single loaf was broken and distributed, as we passed around the juice and all drank from the same glass, it was a special moment to “remember the Lord Jesus” with my brothers and sisters here in Zambia.
Just a quick update on my first few days here. Thanks for prayers for “journey mercies”, thanks for prayers for safety and health. God is faithful and I appreciate you.