Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Location in Tanzania by Frank Black

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Frank & Lou Ann Black

CHIMALA, TANZANIA:  Report from 8 time zones away.

 Chimala remains pretty much unchanged since we left here in 1997.  There is one glaring exception, however -- CELL PHONES!  It seems that every person who comes in from the bush has a cell phone around their neck.  And you think the “ring tones” are raucous in the USA, you should check out some of these.  And cell phone etiquette; it hasn’t hit Tanzania yet.  In fact, during my prayer at the hospital devotional last week, two noxious cell phones erupted.

 Lou Ann and I are privileged to be here with Janice Bingham and Patty Wilson - nurses we first worked with in Nigeria in 1981.  They are both nurse instructors in Searcy, AR.  Janice has seven senior nursing students with her from Harding University - [an excellent group]. We are also especially privileged to be with two young doctors:  Most of you know Kent Brantly, who is here with his wife, Amber, and their two kiddos – Ruby and Stephen.  Our second doctor is Stephen Snell, who is here with his wife, Amy.  Stephen is Jim and Jan’s and Bob and Joan’s nephew.  -- Oh, by the way; we’re eating excellently.  Thanks to the chef with us by the name of Lou Ann.

 How can I begin to tell you the drastic difference between our world in Chimala and your world in Indianapolis?  It would take a book to do this topic justice.  I’ll stick with the medical part.  Very simply I’ll just say that we do the very best we can with the supplies and staff we have here.   I’ll give a couple of examples of the drastic differences between these two worlds.   We lost four children in our first two days [this is unimaginable in any American facility].  I won’t dwell on the fact that our pediatric, male, and female wards have about 20 beds – all in ONE large rectangular room.  Nor that our women in labor and delivery receive no anesthesia or medicines [all natural!].   Oh, and by the way, there are four beds in that one labor room.   And of course there are no monitors and only oxygen for only one patient per ward.  Since I brought up the subject of pain management, I’ll elucidate.  We have four broken femurs in the hospital [large upper leg bone]; three bad burn patients; post-operative patients; and others in severe pain.  There is basically no pain medicine given to any of these patients.  Can you possibly imagine this in the USA?  Of course you are asking WHY?  The simple answer is that this is their cultural way.  They expect pain; they’ve seen and experienced pain; pain is not feared and it’s not their enemy. In short they are extremely stoic and tough people.  By our standards the amount of suffering and pain endured here is unimaginable.

 I mentioned the fractured femurs.  Three are young boys between 7 and 15.  The other is an older lady.  They are all being treated by various types of traction devices – kind of like American orthopedics in the 1950’s.  Surgical orthopedics is just not an option for them.  They lie in bed constantly in traction for six weeks or so.  Can you just imagine this!?  Just let me finish. They have no TV, no radio, no Ipod, no electronic games, no books, etc.  I don’t know about you, but I’d last only a few hours before going bonkers.  [We did take them some magazines with pictures and in addition some balloons and coloring books for the younger boy.].  I sum these situations up by saying that, “WE HAVE THE BLESSING OF LOCATION, AND THEY ARE THE VICTIMS OF LOCATION.”

We’re needed here in many ways – the medical side is obvious.  But we’re also needed spiritually just as much. Despite the stark medical differences, there are no differences in our need for Jesus.  We not only are trying to do our very best medically; we’re trying to model the Great Physician in all ways that we can.
[Physical needs versus spiritual needs:  the greatest of these needs are the spiritual.]

                        Jesu Kristo ni Mganga Mkuu = Jesus Christ is the Great Physician

                                                                                                                                    F. Black
                                                                                                                                   June 3, 2012

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