What a week we have had! This week started last Sunday when we met Oom Bole (pronounced Um Boley), a 103 year old soldier and servant of Jesus. We felt so humbled to be in his presence, a great man of God. Please read Alice’s blog below to learn more about him.
We had our third maternal death this week. A young mother, 8 months pregnant, came in with convulsions in the night and died of cerebral malaria. On Friday I operated on a young woman with a large abdominal mass and was saddened to find that she had extensive metastatic ovarian cancer. She has five children, the youngest being three years of age. Her tumor was so extensive it could not be removed without killing her in a very short time. After closing her abdomen, we went out to tell her husband and he just cried and asked us to pray for him and his wife. We did. I sent her back to her village yesterday and prayed again with both of them. She looked at her her crying husband and said softly, “Don’t cry.” This truly has broken my heart.
Early one morning I was called to see a patient with a “ruptured uterus.” Upon arriving in the ward I was surprised to find that there was still a fetal heart beat. She had been in hard labor at least 36 hours previously at a rural health center. Her uterus actually had not ruptured but the baby’s head was impacted in her vagina sideways and could not be born. This was one of the most difficult Cesarean sections I have ever performed. I really did not believe the baby was going to make it. Her uterus was so contracted and the baby impacted within the vagina making delivery even by Cesarean section extremely treacherous. Baby was born lifeless but after fifteen minutes of resuscitation the baby started crying. He is now eating well but is jaundiced and is not able to move his right arm. His mother is leaking urine continuously and has developed a vesico-vaginal fistula. Both, however, are alive. She has a good possibility of being cured in the future.
The highlight of the week was when a Muslim couple in their mid forties came in for their six week check-up after she had had her ovaries removed as well as her uterus for ovarian tumors and pelvic adhesions. We thought that she most likely had cancer but the path report came back from Addis revealing no identifiable cancer present. The couple, as well as myself, were very relieved. They were so grateful and said that they had been to many hospitals and no one had helped them. My midwife, Addis, told them that we were here because of Christ and asked them if they knew about Jesus. They said that they had heard of him but like Mohammad knew he was now dead. But she went on to tell them that, no, he was not dead but alive and had risen from the dead and was the reason that she had hope for the future and eternal life. She shared her own testimony how Jesus had helped her and given her hope. My patient’s husband said, “We want this kind of hope.” Addis told them that they could have this hope by believing in Jesus Christ and putting their faith in Him. They said they wanted to do this and then he spontaneously got on his knees and prayed, lifting his hands towards heaven and receiving Christ. Their joy was palpable! Addis said that she had a book for them with the words of Jesus. She asked if they would read it and he said yes. She gave him an Amharic Bible. She also shared with him the importance of finding a church where he could hear the words of hope on a regular basis and meet with other Christians. He stated that there was a church near his home and they would attend. This couple seemed sincere and were thrilled to meet our Savior.
As you see, living here brings sorrow and gladness. We have had many healthy babies to be born and now to have new babes in Christ…what a blessing!
You have agonized with us over the saga of Dr. Stephanie’s license medical license. You are aware that she would only be given a license if she worked at the government hospital here for one year under the supervision of an Ethiopian gynecologist. We met with him last Monday and she started working there the next day. He is very happy to have her to share in the work load. We still do not know what this will mean for us at Soddo Christian Hospital, whether she will be able to work any of her time here. This has been an adjustment for both of us. Stephanie will be a blessing wherever she works. Thank you for continuing to pray for us and for your words of encouragement. God bless you. Mark