Screening day...

Due to upcoming elections in Togo they have asked us to do multiple smaller screening (30 screenings 400 patients a day) compared to our usual one time large screening (up to 5000 at once). I was told going into the screenings that we only are able to do surgery for about 25-20% of the people that we see. But this year we have added limitations with only 3 operating rooms in use and the fact we will only be here for 6 months vs the normal 10 months.
This morning I went to my second day of screening. We left the ship around 5am and traveled about 20 minutes on a ‘paved’ road and then followed a couple dirt roads to our final destination. As we approached the screening site, even though the sun had not yet risen, you could see the outlines of hundreds of people waiting to be seen.
We were all excited to see so many people waiting to be seen but we also realized that there were way over 400 people waiting outside the gates that we would have to turn away until another screening. One of the head nurses asked if I could go be the pre-PRE screening nurse and go outside the gate to screen through those that we could potentially help and those that had medical problems that were not surgical issues.
As I opened that gates and walked outside my heart couldn’t believe my eyes. There standing outside were another 400 people that waited hoping that we could help. With a translator and escort at my side I started the slow and heart wrenching process. “My son cant walk”, “My daughter cant use her arms”, “I was burned in a fire” “I was in a moto accident.” Person after person. Story after story. Struggle after struggle.
I saw HUGE goiters, but they weren’t big enough. I saw massive hernias, but they weren’t large enough. I saw so many adult men and women that had extensive orthopedic issues but due to age were unable to get surgery (only pediatric orthopedics). By far, for me, the hardest things to say no to, was the 6 children that I saw that had severe cerebral palsy and would not be able to walk even with a surgery. These kids will always be dependent upon their families for not just getting around but for all activities of living (eating, drinking, clothing, toileting, etc.)It was so hard.
It was so hard to their struggle and to get a glimpse of their pain but be unable to help. I wished I could have at least sat with each one and prayed with them but then I looked up and saw the hundreds of desperate faces and prayed that God would be with each person here, that God would comfort them whether we told them yes or no. That God would pour his love upon them and let them know that each one is his precious child…
As we wrapped up the screening I walked in the gate feeling broken and torn down.
I tried to reflect on the morning but my mind felt empty and my heart hurt. I looked up to see a Mama and her baby walking towards me. This was one of the people I was able to say yes to. I walked over to say hello and as I looked down at her little baby with a cleft lip, the Mama held out her appointment card with a big smile on her face. Thanks God!
Even though we have to turn away SOOO many people I know that God has already picked out every single patient and family that we will help. Instead of focusing on all the tear filled faces that I had to say No to, I need to focus on all the hope filled faces that we were able to say YES to.

God is so good, all the time!


It's Togo Time!

We officially made it to Togo! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy and joyful I am to be back!! Yay! Being away these past two months, God has really shown me how truly IN LOVE I am with Africa.

A part of you has grown in me.
And so you see, it's you and me
Together forever and never apart,
Maybe in distance, but never in heart.

As we start this new outreach in Togo I am so excited and thankful of all the amazing things God is going to do.
Proverbs 16:3~ Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
I am committing it all, everything to Him and trusting in him to guide my every step.

Colossians 3:23~ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.
During fun times and stressful times. When caring for graceful patients and ‘extra-grace-needed’ patients. Whatever it is that I am doing, I need to give it my all and to remember that I am doing it for Him and no one else.

This is going to be a shorter outreach then the usual time span. Mercy ships usually serves in a country for 10 months but this time we will be here for 6 months due to some ship work that needs to get done.
Continue to pray for us and what the Lord wants us to do.
Here are some quick facts about Togo.
Togo is:
Located between Benin and Ghana
Approximately 6 million people
Official language is French, most people speak Ewe, Mina, and Kabye (Im still looking for the Rosetta Stone for that one)
Ranks 159 out of 182 according to the UN Human Devel Index
About 70% of the Togolese people live on under $2 a day
Less than 1 doctor per 10,000 people (that means like a half doctor… )
Median age is 18 years old
Life expectancy 59
Religion: 29% Christian, 20% Muslim, 51% indigenous beliefs

God I am so thankful for what you are going to do here in Togo. God I thank you now for the friends and relationships that you have mapped out for each one of us. I pray that we will all be learners and that we will show that love, given to us by you, to all those we meet.