American missionary nurse, Beth, reports back on her first three months at the Frontline Fellowship mission base in Sudan:
My medical work at home was quite different to what I do here in Sudan. As an anesthetist I worked in a sterile environment. Accuracy was crucial in drug dosages. Supplies were basically unlimited. Now, armed with a stethoscope, thermometer and a bag of medicines, I sit outdoors and see children and adults with diarrhea, numerous unusual skin problems, malaria, sleeping sickness, and o.v. (river blindness) to name a few. I find myself cutting up tablets with my kitchen knife trying to create a pediatric dose from an adult tablet.
We have, on many separate occasions, had medical or surgical emergencies that have had to be transported to the hospital. The first was a girl in Kotobi who was reported to be dying in labour. She was feverish and had a seizure in our vehicle while we were driving her through the river, at night, to the hospital. At the hospital they did an emergency c-section on her. I was able to gown up and go in and assist Dr Warren Cooper in the surgery. The mother and baby survived, but they were both still in danger for some time afterwards. The baby, born just about 4 hours before my birthday, was named after me!
Another emergency occurred after we showed the Jesus film in Kotobi. It was obvious when I saw him that he had either appendicitis or a strangulated hernia and his abdomen was rigid. So… in the early hours of the morning, we drove him through the river to Lui hospital. I think he would have died if we had not been there.
I also had to treat a dislocated knee when Hansie dislocated his knee playing soccer with the students. He was in excruciating pain until we could re-set it. The next day he was hobbling around with a knee brace and crutches continuing his work!
The needs here are so great. Last month I saw over 300 patients. Some cases require only a band-aid and some ointment. Others are so sick that they die even though we rush them to the hospital. Sometimes our whole team gets in on the act. A few weeks ago we were alerted about a gunshot wound in Nyon. John and I drove there and picked up the patient, I started an IV on him and gave him a shot of pethidine. When we arrived at the hospital, Hardus donated a unit of his own blood for him! It was a real team effort.
As a single woman without children, I have only had my cats and dog to think about before leaving for work in the mornings when in the U.S. These days, I have 40 to 50 Sudanese children coming each morning for a Bible class, racing up the road to see who can get here first. We sing, memorise Scripture, have Bible stories and sometimes play games. If I had to choose my favourite part of being here in Sudan, it would be the children’s ministry. Ironically, I struggled terribly with the children’s ministry in my home church and made a conscious effort to avoid it. However, in coming to Sudan, it has brought me more pleasure and fulfillment than any other activity.
"[His] strength is made perfect in weakness" 2 Cor 12:9, and "we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" 2 Cor 4:7.
Beth teaching a Bible memory verse to children at the Frontline Fellowship mission base.We are memorising Scripture together in Moru and studying the life of Moses. I am constantly amazed how quickly the children memorise so many Scriptures! We also have regular Bible studies with the students and staff, studying the book of Hebrews. My meetings with the women out in the community have also been very successful. Six of these women had come to see me for medical treatment, and as a result, we went to their homes and started this Bible study.On Saturdays, prizes are awarded to those who can quote the week’s Bible verse. On our best week, we had 38 children reciting the verse! This Saturday we had just finished reciting Psalm 121:2,
"My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."
Suddenly a plane flew over and all the children ran behind the house and jumped into our bomb shelter. I looked at them standing in that shelter – little children – and thought to myself how cruel the government’s bombing campaign really is. Within 10 minutes, however, the children were back in their circle quoting the first 5 books of the Bible (our next memory project).
Their courage and resilience is amazing. The prize for successful memorisation that day was a stick of gum and a balloon. I looked at one boy laughing, chewing his gum, and holding his big yellow balloon. I got a thrill from seeing that. Childhood should be fun – especially Saturdays. To see that little snapshot of childhood joy in the midst of so much suffering here was my best moment of the day.
That seems to be a theme here – finding small joys amidst a bad situation. Students singing late at night, the carpenters sitting around a fire laughing, people eating unlimited ripe mangos after a long dry season with no fruit – these are life’s small treasures here, and I feel very rich to be able to enjoy them.
"Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matt 19: 14
I praise God to be in this unique and exciting mission field. At home I often felt the pressure of an imbalance in my life – between what God had invested in me and what I was giving away. It is a blessing to be able to use all the skills and experiences God has given me to serve the people in Southern Sudan, to help those who have no one else to help them.
"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"Eph 2:10.
The last bombing (the 9th aerial bombardment of the community which includes the Frontline mission base and Christian Liberty High School) caused some damage to the bridge leading to our base. Some of our ceilings fell in from the explosions as well.
There continues to be a good response to our film evangelism. We sense His protection, presence and help in so many ways. Thank you for praying.