Friday, August 12, 2011
The thick, water-laden air was just starting to loosen it's grasp on the landscape surrounding, as I took an evening walk around the grounds of the compound, the impenetrable jungle soaring above me as I went. A clearing emerged on the top of the hill, and through it I could see the sun setting through the trees, its sweet rays of sun touching each building of the hospital below. I lingered on the obvious presence of God in the view before me, and thought of his obvious presence again during the events of the day.
I was on route to the pediatric ward, making rounds to check in on the nursing students in their clinicals throughout the hospital, using real life examples to teach and to answer any questions. I was unsure what I would find in the pediatric ward, a little girl whom I'd been helping a student take care the past couple days was very sick, diagnosed with cerebral malaria. The little girl was just 4 yrs old, but it had appeared that there might be a chance she'd pull through. As I turned the corner of the pediatric ward, I shuddered as the sound of wailing reached my ears. I looked up and saw a large crowd of people around the little girl's room, my heart sank. The student and I made eye contact as she headed into the room. The little girl had just passed. I shouldered my way through the grieving crowd and into the little girl's room. The light was dim, a bucket of water sat on the concrete floor, the little girl lay motionless on the rubber mattress covered by her mother's wraps, the whir of the oxygen concentrator still running and the drip of the IV bottle which was still open seemed remarkably abrasive even amidst the laments of the crowd just outside the door. We turned off the machines and we began to remove the lines and tubes from the little girl's limp body, the mother knelt on the floor next to her bed rocking and wailing, crying out to God in French, "I had a daughter! I had a daughter!"
As I helped the student balance the tasks of taking care of the physical, emotional and spiritual needs present, I realized the impact of what it would mean to teach nursing here at Bongolo Hospital. As a foreigner I had much to learn about the culture, about the heart language of the Gabonese in order to be really effective in sharing the Gospel, but in teaching and discipling these nursing students, I would be multiplying myself, equipping the Gabonese to reach their own people for the glory of God. God's presence was obvious.
This was back in March of 2011, a 2 week trip with a couple of surgeons from local C&MA churches in Dayton. Little did I know just how faithfully and intricately God would work in just a few short months ahead, to the point where I would be sitting here today, looking at that sun setting on Bongolo Hospital and know that it was soon to be home.