2006-11-04 Saturday Evening

Today we had the opportunity to travel with the Mobile Medical Clinic team to the town of “Kalah” which is about 30 minutes from Project Mercy. As usual, the roads we travel, whether paved or not are used by everyone—people and animals alike. Taxis (horse or donkey-drawn two-wheeled carts), herds of cattle, goats and sheep, children and people of all ages and a few vehicles all use the road at the same time. (Just imagine this as Canada Road in Woodside on bicycle Sunday). You see mothers carrying babies in slings on their backs; very young children herding their animals; donkeys with large packs of tree branches used for firewood in circular homes with thatched roofs called “tukels”.

Having passed only a few people on the steep winding road to our clinic site, we were amazed to be greeted by hundreds of adults and children. Obviously, the word of our pending arrival had spread in this land of no TV, radio, or telephones! We were scheduled to work half day and see about half the number of patients of a “normal” working day in the mobile clinic. Our playbook called for treating 30 patients instead of the normal 60. However, due to the vast number of people, we called an audible at the scrimmage line! Triage nurses hand-picked people by going into the crowd, and, with God’s wisdom they were able to select those to be seen by Drs. Chris and Phil. In addition, God gave wisdom to Nurse Tara and Dr. Chris to formulate a plan of distributing packets of Tylenol to over 100 people complaining of headaches. The people left the clinic grateful that they had been treated. The local church leaders had the difficult task of sending the rest of the people home. That part was heart-breaking for both of us to witness. However, the mobile clinic docs and nurses will return to the same site on Monday for a full day, so those people will be blessed to experience a lessening of their painful struggle.

As we looked at the throngs of the people sitting and squatting on the hillside in this ancient and remote land of Ethiopia, we were reminded of Jesus as he walked through the crowds touching and healing the people. We felt that God was working through us to bring comfort, love, and peace to those who suffer here.

Today was a first for the medical mobile clinics from MPPC. Dr. Marshall and dental assistant Judy performed two extractions of abscessed teeth – in the field! Our dental clinic consisted of a vacant room, a chair, a table, and Judy’s hand providing the headrest. Language was unnecessary to observe the patient’s gratefulness as he bowed his head many times and smiled without pain.

This afternoon our leader, Frank Marsh, gave us time off for good behavior! Several of our team members went into the nearby town of Butajira for shopping and internet café. Others went on a hike up the beautiful mountainside to see a rural Orthodox church built in the familiar “tukel” style.

Some people actually rested, while others baked with Peggy Ifft in her lovely “American” kitchen. Peggy generously supplies home-baked cakes, tea, and cappuccino for tea time in the morning and afternoon at the hospital. Peggy is a gift and we are privileged to be recipients of her and Gary’s warm hospitality. Please add them to your prayer list as they deal with challenges of administrating a modern hospital in rural Yetebon, Ethiopia.

Judy counseled her first client in Africa today! She was able to give much encouragement to a 12 year old child who is one of the 70 children that Marta and Deme have adopted here at Project Mercy. She has two or three more appointments on our last day her with hospital staff.

Obviously, the needs here are great, and sometimes we wonder how much difference we are really making, but we are finding so much joy in serving “the least among us” knowing that God will use our service to touch them with His amazing love and comfort. We are definitely on the receiving end of much love and gratefulness from these beautiful people.