We just finished our first full day of work. According to my team members, I examined 109 people today! Wow! I'm not really even sure how that is humanly possible. It was hard. It was frustrating. Of those 109, exactly 4 spoke English. So, 105 of these exams were done via an interpreter.
As a side note, Patricia, my interpreter was unbelievable! She was kind, calm, precise with her directions and extremely patient with all of our sweet patients. She was like the anti-Vanessa! We made an excellent team.
Our team was able to help some, and not help others. We turned away many at the end, which was very hard for me to do. I ended the day in tears as the weight of it all hit me like a ton of bricks.
Now back in my room, rehydrated with a full meal of grilled tilapia, rice, cabbage and a dessert that was 10 parts sugar and 1 part mixed fresh fruit in my belly, I am feeling better (I had a strip of beef jerky and a handful of almonds sometime mid-afternoon at the insistence of my awesome--and strangely bossy--husband). My brain is once again firing on all cylinders and I have had time to reflect on a few of the things I saw today.
I was reminded, very early in the day, that God has both a purpose AND a sense of humor. In order to explain how He revealed both of these, you will need some back-story.
A little over a month ago, I noticed my son had this weird lesion on his head. I was not too concerned, since we have battled psoriasis off and on with him since he was very young. I started the normal psoriasis treatments and after several weeks came to the realization that they were not working this time around. So, I finally took him to our pediatrician to get a second set of eyes on the thing.
Long story short, the first round of meds that were prescribed did not work. In fact, just a couple of days before Christmas I noticed a small patch of what looked like eczema on my neck. By Christmas, it was evident it was not eczema, but ringworm! What? How the heck did I get ringworm?!? Oh, it's from my son's head! It's right in the spot where he nuzzles in when he gives me those big heart-wrenching hugs of his!
So, now armed with a better idea of what the junk on his head was, we headed back to the doctor for a more accurate and thorough history of the condition. The result? A months worth of medication for my son, and a complete set of labs to insure they don't have long-term side effects for him and his little nine year old liver. All this just 4 days before leaving for Kenya! Really God? You, the omnipotent and omnicient creator of the universe couldn't see fit to have a little better timing with this kind of inconvenience? Sheesh!
So, I know some of you are wondering what in the world does this have to do with Kenya and our first day of eye clinics? I will tell you: I have been in practice for 16 years and have never seen ringworm on a single patient in my life! Because of this little incident with my son, I became intimately familiar with the disease appearance and treatment. Well, wouldn't you know, 3 patients in, I have this little 4 year old boy sitting there looking all cute. His mom was standing next to him expressing concern over what this strange growth was on his lower eyelid and cheek. Well, of course, it was a ringworm!! Seriously, what are the odds? (Apparently, not very big, as ringworm seems to be a big problem here). However, the odds of me actually knowing what it was approximately a second and a half after laying eyes on it were extremely enormous!
It was a relatively quick conversation with the mother (through my awesome interpreter) and this little guy was on his way to being fungus free!
So, what I viewed as God having bad timing was just a reminder to me that while His timing is always perfect it is also pertinent, and profound.
I am still trying my best to live a hakuna matata life, while also keeping my sense of humor. I saw things today that frustrated me (mostly because they would be so easy to remedy in the US, but impossible to fix here). I was also able to witness smiles of joy and elation as people were able to see again. There was good with the bad.
Before coming on this trip, my friend Marci encouraged me to "focus on the one". While this little 4 year old boy was only with me for about 5 minutes, today he was my "one". The one that I was able to really help. The one that could be easily helped--with the right diagnosis and treatment. And the one that I will remember for a lifetime. My great reminder that even when things don't seem to be going well, or the timing is inconvenient, God ultimately has a purpose.
So, I am still "looking around", trying very hard to "breathe" and am comforted to know that whatever the circumstances, God always has plan and a purpose. I hope today you are able to recognize your "one" and know that God is totally in control--whether it's convenient for you, or not.