Saturday, February 15, 2014
Jetlagged, Medical Missions and Blizzards
Well I had planned to write a post on the book I am reading (and referred to in my last post) but life rather caught up with me and whisked me away to the Philippines for a medical mission. I arrived home this evening on the last plane into Boston shortly before they canceled all in-going and out-going flights. Apparently a blizzard was coming to welcome my return.
Now after 30 hours of travel and erratic bouts of sleep I find myself wrestling with jet lag...hence I am awake writing on my blog almost immediately upon my return.
The mission was a success any way you slice it. We saw over 1600 patients in the medical, dental and optical clinics and performed over 60 surgeries within five days. My fellow missionaries were all upbeat, joyful and excited to serve. The patients were sweet, grateful and in need of care. From pneumonia to pustular scabies to mumps...we saw them all. Many had gone to a "healer" who would place tape on various parts of the body with strange writings on them. One little boy with a broken arm had four small pieces of tape on his body but no sling or cast. Another young man with yellow eyes and obvious liver disease had one on his head.
I have mixed feelings about the "healers." I know they are a part of the culture and yet it is a pagan tradition. I also don't see that they are helping the people...but I suppose all stories are anecdotal for their effectiveness or ineffectiveness. Regardless, the people seem to have faith in them, judging by the number of people who contract their services.
The above picture is from a small island adjacent to one of the poorest districts of the city where we worked. About once a year the river floods and the people evacuate. Afterwards they return and have to completely rebuild their homes. The bridge is a rickety combination of bamboo and sacks of sand. Children jump off it to swim in the water, contaminated with sewage, laughing and playing, full of joy. "Hello, Po!" they shout as we walk by, summersaulting off the bridge in an effort to get our attention.
This was my fifth visit to the islands of the Philippines. How I have come to love these people! Their smiles, their joy in greeting us, their generosity...I have never seen anything like it in all my travels.
How blessed I am that God allowed me the privilege of serving them!