Well it’s been an adventure living in Africa with what I carried in on my back. I hadn’t planned it this way of course. I’d LOVE to have more than one pair of underwear for these humid, scorching past seven days, but apparently the 14 pairs I packed decided they preferred NY City to Togo and stayed there for a while.
I hope they at least bring me a t-shirt when they arrive. (Fingers crossed)
In the meantime, it’s almost like I’m African with my one outfit, plus crappy complementary t-shirt Delta gave me to tide me over for A WEEK.
Yesterday, I spent the day with some missionaries who served many years at our hospital in Bangladesh. They are here to train some of the staff who are moving to Mango, a mainly Muslim city where we plan to build a new hospital. As we sat around the dinner table, this elderly couple began talking about living through the war in Pakistan, like it was an RV trip they took across the states. They also told of the oppression they faced from the Muslim extremists, who burned down their church, and threatened their lives many times. At one point the opposition so was strong, men gathered in the market to come and attack the hospital compound. A few minutes later, the sky opened up and poured as they had never seen it rain. For three days the storm raged–so strong and so long that the men gave up and went back home. Shortly after, the Muslim men again decided they would attack the hospital. This time they made it as far as the gate of the compound when the Bangladesh military began practicing maneuvers overhead. The men ran off afraid, assuming the American’s had called their military and the planes were overhead for protection.
Finally, in the last attempt, men began stirring up trouble in the market, announcing they were going to kill the Christians. Weapons in hand, and ready to attack, they loaded into a truck in the market. At the very same time, a bus coming down the mountain into the village lost its brakes, swerved and smashed into the truck, killing some and injuring many of the men–who ironically, were then transported to the very hospital they were about to attack and burn, for treatment.
It is amazing the types of adventures and lives these people have. Yesterday while walking to one missionary’s home for lunch, I heard yelling and saw a gardener heaving rocks. There was a venomous tree snake several hundred yards from me—angry that his nest had been run over by a lawn mower. Men ran from all directions and there was a frantic skipping and yelling dance with the snake, until the 6 foot long creature was finally killed. A few days ago a man was taken to the hospital after being bitten on the head by a puffer cobra; his lips swelled up about the size of a hot dog bun. So no one takes any chances around here when it comes to snakes.
For that, I am thankful.
Today, I did rounds with the doctor and got to go into the isolation ward where a woman is dying of what they think is an a-typical case of rabies. It is a bizarre disease that can lay dormant up to 19 years after you’ve been bitten. This woman had a crazed look in her eye, and was restrained on the bed. The doctors also keep tabs on the spiritual elements of some of these diseases, which present as something like rabies, but after prayer, disappear. There are a lot of fetish priests (witch doctors) in this area, whom people rely on first before trying modern medicine. Coming from the scientific/western background, it is easy to write off the spiritual element. But being here in Africa has shown me that there is some sort of power there, and people are impacted by the rituals, curses, and sacrifices. One of the missionaries was telling me she had a student who would release a blood curdling scream every time someone said “Jesus”, like she was being tortured.
I also sat in on a few surgeries, including a large hernia repair, a prolapsed rectum repair on an 18-month old, and a mastectomy. I was fine until they pulled out the tumor and the doctor opened it to show me the cancer. It was about that point when the room starting spinning and I got really hot. I was soon the girl with her head between her knees in the hallway, trying not to throw up. But I’m proud to say I made it through most of the surgery…and the surgeon expects a full recovery for me!
Now it’s off to Mango, one of the hottest places in the world. Can’t wait to bust out the burka I brought just for the occasion!
Leah is in Africa working toward the building of a hospital. She is a member of Calvary Church and she works for the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism who is sponsoring the hospital project. –Editor