Sunday, September 16, 2012

School's in Session!!!

Hello Dear Friends and Family!

Monday, September 10th brought the moment for which we've all been praying and preparing- the arrival of the brand new nursing students!!!

Getting to know each other- a few of the 3rd years (in checked scrubs) and a few of the new students.

Monday started their 2 week orientation to "L'École de Santé de Bongolo" (literally "The School of Health at Bongolo" - ie the Nursing School).  The two weeks resemble a "nursing camp" of sorts, giving them an intense crash course in basic patient care that they will need to begin clinicals when the school year officially starts on September 24th.

This marks the answer to much prayer, as we will be teaching two different classes at once- the 3rd years- who are returning for their final trimesters of training, and the brand new class. We hope to be able to better staff Bongolo Hospital, as it is currently in a critical nursing shortage- 1 nurse per ward!

First day teaching

So yet another "Back 2 School" rolls it's way around - but for the first time, it's as the Teacher =) 

I walked into class at 8 AM Tuesday morning, their first official class at the school, I continued across the cement floor, set my satchel down on the teacher's desk and started praying silently to myself as all their eyes stared eagerly and expectantly back into mine. No time for hesitancy now-I thought to myself,  this was it- why God has called me here. And if He has called me- then He will equip me.
So I opened my mouth and started speaking in French and class had begun, don't ask me what I said, all I know is that God was there. 

Playing a game to work on memorizing Vital Sign norms.

As a class we've been playing a game to work on memorizing Vital Sign norms. I put up 3 signs around the room, "low," "normal" and "high." Then I give each student a card with a value on it, and they have to go stand under which category they think it's in. Each student then reads their card aloud and the class decides if they think they chose the right spot or not.

We've also been having a lot of fun getting to know the students' personalities better through ice-breaker games and team building exercises.

Trust Falls

Working on our team work skills =)

We also introduced them to the Nursing Skills Lab. We have two beds with a full mannequin in each. 
I wish you could have seen their faces as they all trickled into class that day! 
Each one would walk in, greet everyone, then stop dead in their tracks as they caught sight of the "bodies" in the beds- then they and everyone else would burst out laughing! 
Well, when you've never seen a life size mannequin before...

Eager to learn.

These students have come from a world so different from my own. The first day of class, not one of them knew what a pulse was.
By the end of the week- they were taking a full set of vital signs. 
They are intelligent and quick to ask questions, but the material and environment in which they are learning it is stretching them in every way.
However, they are not the only ones being stretched! 
Teaching in a language I've learned less than 7 months and in a country where I've lived less than 2, is not exactly in my comfort zone...

The verse God has brought to mind for the Nursing Skills class that I teach is Colossians 3:23-24

 "Whatever you do, work heartily, 
as for the Lord and not for men,  
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. 
You are serving the Lord Christ."

We're working on memorizing it as a class. I think it's appropriate because this class is where the theory and medical knowledge and being the hands and feet of Christ combine into one. 
It's where the rubber meets the road.
It's where we start doing patient care.
 It's where we can live out our responsibility to love and serve others with the knowledge and skill that we've been given - in order that God might bring people to Himself. 

At least, that's what I'm praying God helps me to show them.

At the end of the week, we divided up the class of 16 into groups of 4, and each teacher took a group onto the wards at the Hospital to practice vital signs.
I took my group of 4 and we headed to the surgical ward- their first time giving patient care. We went into each patient room together as a group, while one student would take a turn to take that patient's vital signs. I was surprised at how gentle, respectful and compassionate the students were. They introduced themselves, explained each step before they did it, and approached the patient humbly. I was impressed that this continued as we went on to the 2nd patient, and the 3rd patient ...and then we got to the 4th.  
It was a young woman who laid on the bed, her family was gone for a bit, and on her chart I noted her nearing surgery that would probably leave her barren. Her face was downcast as though discouraged, fallen with the weight of the unknown. When the student was all done and I had verified the results, I asked the patient if we could pray with her. She looked relieved and replied 'yes.' I offered the opportunity to the students and they jumped to be involved.

As we debriefed this 4th time, taking a moment to learn from each patient, I asked them if they had noticed the light that was gone from her eyes and the discouragement....they finished my sentence. They were emphatic about what they had seen in the young woman and they were energized by the way in which they were able to encourage her and help her. I looked at them and a smile spread across my face and my heart beat hard in my chest, at that very moment a light had turned on on their faces...I think Colossians 3 had hit home...


  1. Amanda, your description of the patient and how you and these students were able to pray with her brought tears to my eyes. Praying for you and your new ministry there!

  2. Hi!
    I've never commented here before, but I just wanted to say that although I don't cry very easily, the story you shared about the patient and how you all prayed for her brought tears to my eyes!

    May God bless you and the work you do!

  3. If anyone is going to look drop dead gorgeous in the jungle it would be you! :) These students are so blessed to have you for a teacher and I can't wait to hear the rest of your stories! I miss you like crazy and can't wait until we can skype!