Day 7 at Project Mercy and I have been asked to blog—I may be admitting my age but I have as yet in my life to blog or read a blog, but here goes:
Thought I would update you on a few events and close with a thought or two. Last night Deme asked me if it would be alright if Dr. Fakadu came down for a talk. I said absolutely thinking to myself we could chat about opportunities to partner in the future. When he arrived I asked him to take a seat and he announced, “I have a patient with an acute abdomen. Would you all like to come with me?” Abe and I jumped at the chance and with Iyad we trundled off (I will let Deb and Ellen tell you of their trip up)- long story short –acute appendicitis –open appendectomy and recovering today. A simple story of health care across the world, but one that I believe portrays the relationship we are starting to build. During the case we had the opportunity to use a retractor (basic surgical tool) that we had brought and talk about the help such an instrument can provide the surgeon- I thought, here is something basic we can provide to sustain and elevate the amazing care our Ethiopian colleagues are providing.
This morning began as it has every day for Jean Ann and myself with a walk around the compound as the sun breaks over the Gurage Mountian chain to our east suffusing the air with a light that makes me think of light coming through a stained glass window. Throughout the week I have been most impressed with the beauty and promise we have seen in the land and most of all in the faces of the people we meet. This, despite the ever present poverty and struggle just to live day to day.
After a breakfast of scrambled eggs fresh bread and papaya (complements of Iyad’s shopping adventure Friday afternoon), we walked about a half mile up to church. For me the service answered a question that many may ask about so many world situations such as exist in Ethiopia: How do people go on when faced with such high walls to climb? Despite not understanding a word of Amharic the spiritual presence of “Faith” was almost a physical sensation: the humming, singing, and music were a language that spoke to my heart. Jacky (yup, our Jacky) was given the opportunity to preach and spoke on the faith that Abraham showed in planting a tamarisk tree next to his well in Beersheba. We are all tested in different ways on a daily basis, and the people here are shining examples of faith in the face of adversity we can only begin to grasp.
After church and lunch we were treated to a beautiful concert by the childrens’ choir. We then took Polaroid photos of each child. The smiles on their faces mirrored the future of this country. Children across the world indeed carry the spirit of God in their hearts and it shines through their eyes.
This was followed by an example of their coffee ceremony – preparing coffee from green beans roasting them on a small skillet then crushing them with mortar and pestle followed by cooking in a clay carafe. They then served fresh homemade bread. This goes on in almost every home in Yetabon daily. Think about it the next time you stop in to your favorite coffee shop for a latte to go.
Over that last week in surgery and daily living we have seen people doing much with very little: Re-sterilizing and using equipment we routinely throw away, digging complex irrigation ditches with a few shovels and sticks, walking miles over rocky paths to attend school, carrying 5 gallon water containers up the mountain, building homes of wood and mud. It makes me stop and look at the abundance we have in the USA. I think it has been given to us by God in order to help those help themselves overcome these challenges, and in doing so we all grow in our own walk thru this life. In closing I can tell you that my life has been changed (as I suspected it would), and I believe as we move forward with this relationship it will change many lives both here and at home.
Kathy’s note – the story of the sweating knees:
In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned Cheryl’s sweating knees. This story really needs to go down in blog history so I’ll tell you what happened. But first, you need some background on Cheryl to really understand things. Cheryl laughs at everything – including herself. She tends to hear things differently than the rest of us and we never know what she is going to say. This morning she announced that the coffee was ready because she could hear the smoke! I won’t begin to guess what goes on in the mind of hers, but we love her dearly, regardless.
So, on with the story: We were on our mountain hike, which Ellen already told you about. The young and energetic team members were in the lead while the rest of us were holding up the rear. As the sun got higher, things got hotter. We all had water bottles with us and we stopped often to drink. As we were trudging along, Cheryl says that the backs of her knees are starting to sweat. Rosie, who is a very competent and intelligent RN, had never heard of sweating behind the knees but she thought nothing of it – because it was coming from Cheryl, who tends to say strange things. A short time later, Cheryl again commented on sweating behind her knees. Again, it was shrugged off. Jeff had been behind us and as he caught up to us he yells out to Cheryl that her pants are wet, really wet! Cheryl yells back that she did not wet her pants, she is just sweating behind her knees! Jeff got closer and says, “Cheryl, do you know your back pack is leaking?” Sure enough, water was dripping out of her back pack and as she walked the drops were hitting her pants on the backs of her knees and legs! Apparently she did not put the cap tightly on her water bottle at our previous rest stop. And that is the story of the sweaty knees…
Cheryl’s note (yup, it’s me):
The above story is true and it could only happen to me!
During our week here, I have been doing lots and lots of sewing and mending. We have two working sewing machines, both electric, so we can’t work when the electricity goes out, which is at least once per day. I’ve trained two Ethiopian ladies to help me. I also have a sewing circle of other ladies on our team who have been helping out with repairing surgical gowns and patching surgical drapes in their spare time. I am quite the task master – giving complete instructions on cutting, folding, hemming, etc. I’ve been told I don’t pay my workers enough. I guess good conversation doesn’t count for anything. We work in a large cement building known affectionately as “the sweat shop”. At least, I think it is called that affectionately. I’ve also spent a lot of time here repairing clothes for the school children. Most of clothing would have been thrown out in our country, but here they are repaired. At least 42 children have brought me clothing that I mended. Some brought 2-3 items.
Today was church day. As I watched the children come in for services, I saw that some of them were wearing the clothes that I had mended for them earlier in the week! My heart was humbled and it made me feel so good!
There are so many projects here, but my main focus has been making curtains for the school. The time has been too short for the curtain project to be completed. We have been working on over 100 curtains! I have 7 bolts for a total of more than 20,000 centimeters of fabric. Hopefully the Ethiopian ladies I have trained will be able to complete this project. Marta and Deme will be so proud to have curtains in their school to keep the rooms cooler on hot days.
This has been a most rewarding opportunity and one that I hope will grow among the Ethiopian ladies and maybe even the young women in school here.
P.S. The two Ethiopian women I have been training to sew, also know how to knit and crochet. Lori brought along a crochet project so we gave them her pattern. These ladies are in need of yarn!
Sunday Euchre update: Ellen Hanson was on her first winning team. Since Rosie and Cheryl were still sewing, we added Iyad, Jacky and Sally for a rousing game. Sally, Ellen and Jeff were on one team and they won—but it was close.