A Testimony From The Latest Medical Trip to the Pacific Rim
Liz Hale was a participant on our most recent medical trip to the Pacific Rim. I asked her to write down a few thoughts about the trip to be shared here.
As most of you know, I went on the most recent trip from Providence to an island in the Pacific Rim. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I would absolutely do it again. I am a planner and I like to know and be prepared for every eventuality. But on this trip, there were so many elements that were unknown to me until I had to deal with them at that moment. I did not know if I would be able to see as many patients as they needed me to see. I did not know if I would be able to take care of the patients that I did see with quality. I’ve practiced as a nurse practitioner for less than a year, and I've never had to take care of people without the numerous resources that we take for granted in the US. I also didn't know how I would react to the long hours of travel, the climate, the culture, and the unusual foods. I never would have been able to handle an experience like this one relying on my own strength. However, God gave me a strength I had not had until I needed it. God took care of me, the rest of the team, and all the people we met along the way. He took care of me perfectly, in ways I have never experienced before and in ways I would not expect.
The trip contained a lot of ‘firsts’ for me. It was my first plane, my first time outside the US, my first time experiencing a different culture, complete with so many different foods that I'm not sure what all I ate. Through all of it, God was very present with me.
He took care of me by sending me with a wonderful team. Most of us were not close before we left (I had never met Mary or Gail before), but I feel like they are all part of my family now. The Lord also gave us wonderful contacts on the Island, especially the Murphy family, new friends such as Febby, Hartono, and Hendrata. They helped guide us through the culture which allowed us to get acclimated so that we could better serve the Sula people.
A big portion of our trip centered around the four clinics that we helped with while we were in Sanana. For three of our clinics, we traveled to remote villages, and one was at the church in Sanana City. The clinics were conducted in school classrooms, where each doctor had a desk and chair for the patients. We worked alongside 3-6 Indonesian doctors (Muslims and Christians) at each location, usually all in one big room. There was also a lab station with a few basic tests we could run, as well as a pharmacy outside the room to distribute the prescriptions we wrote. We ended up seeing 197 patients in Waisum, 96 in Sanana City, 386 in Waiguy, and 412 in Fokali. The purpose of us going to these specific areas, was to help people in villages that had limited access to medical care.
One specific way that God took care of me that I did not expect ws on our third day of clinics. The first two days of clinic had been very hard. The cultural and language barriers left me feeling very disconnected from my patients, but I didn't really realize that in the moment. By the morning of the third clinic, I was not looking forward to the next two days of clinic. The whole team was very fatigued with some feeling sick. But when we got to our village for the day, I discovered that I would have a new translator whom I hadn't met before. As it turned out, working with her turned out to be my favorite day of clinic. Her name was Lily, and she was an Indonesian Muslim nutritionist. I felt we were able to better serve the many patients we saw that day together. I also felt more connected to our patients through her. The people we saw that day seemed to understand the health information we were trying to teach better than at the previous clinics. From this day, God gave me what I hadn't realized I needed (connection with my patients and with a new friend), by a means I never would have expected (an unknown Muslim translator).