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September 2017

Lutheran Mobile Clinic (CAMM)

Lilongwe, Malawi 

September, 2017

     Imagine:  It’s a Monday evening at 6:00pm.  You’ve cut your foot on a piece a glass when walking to the store to buy something for dinner.  You don’t have a vehicle and so you call a friend to take you to the hospital but when you arrive at the hospital the doctor is not there yet.  At this point the doctor is about two and half hours late.  You’re stuck sitting on the bench with your friend waiting while someone is trying to track down the doctor.

     Well, this is how I spent my Monday evening.  One of LMC’s employee’s son, cut his foot open while getting something from the market for dinner.  In Malawi, the most common transport is through buses, but they don’t typically run after it gets dark.  So I picked the LMC employee, his wife, and their son and brought them to one of the area hospitals.  Unfortunately, when we arrived I was informed that the doctor had not shown up for work yet despite the shift starting at 4:30 pm.  Brighton, his wife, Mary, and their son, Sunset, sat down to wait.  I, however, began to ask many questions:

“Why isn’t the doctor here?”

“How can we get a hold of the doctor so that he/she comes?”

“How long will this take?  Do we need to try and go to another hospital?”

With each additional question, I became more and more upset!  Even after being in Malawi 2 years and 8 months I was still astonished that there was no doctor on site, despite one being assigned. 

      While we waited for the doctor to arrive, I tried to redirect my focus from anger to what I could learn from this situation.  I noticed how patiently Brighton, Mary, and Sunset were waiting.  How quiet they were.  Everyday I’m humbled and in awe by the patience Malawians demonstrate.  It’s something that after 2 years and 8 months I still struggle with, especially when it comes to the provision of healthcare.

      Thankfully, the nurse on duty called the In-Charge of the facility and he came to take care of Sunset!  While the In-Charge took care of Sunset, I took a minute to reflect on the care I’m able to receive in the U.S.:

--I can always get to the hospital in an emergency, FAST, by ambulance, even if my employer isn’t the driver. 

--I can rest assured that a doctor is at the hospital and that if I have to wait while more urgent cases are seen, my turn will come.

--I know that the health facility will have the needed supplies to take care of me. 

Unfortunately, Malawians can’t always count on the same things we easily take for granted.

      I’m grateful that LMC has had the opportunity to provide consistent care for the Malawians in the villages we serve each week for the past 50 years.  While LMC only provides care at 4 villages once a week, we show up every week and rarely run out of medications.  Without LMC, they would have to ride a bicycle or walk over 9 miles to the next health facility, which may or may not have a doctor or supplies.

      “I pass through trials all the way, with sin and ills contending; in patience I must bear each day the cross of God’s own sending.  Oft in adversity I know not where to flee, when storms of woe my soul dismay; I pass through trials all the way.    I walk with Jesus all the way; his guidance never fails me.  He takes my every fear away when Satan’s power assails me, and, by his footsteps led, my path I safely tread.  In spite of ills that threaten may, I walk with Jesus all the way.”  (CW 431 vs. 2 and 5)

 Your Sister In Christ,                                                                                                                                                                  Amanda Oswalt                                                                                                                                                                                Nurse In Charge                                                                                                                                                                        Lutheran Mobile Clinic                                                                                                                                                            Lilongwe, Malawi