Today we are celebrating life and the resurrection of our Lord. Happy Easter everyone. This week we have experienced the depths of despair and the heights of joy.
- Our fourth maternal death: On Friday Stephanie was working at the government hospital when a young teenage mother came in in an almost comatose state. She had been in labor for four days and her baby was dead but undelivered. She was brought in by her brother because her husband had abandoned her during the pregnancy. Both she and her brother were orphans themselves. He had less than three dollars to his name and did not have the necessary money for her medications. The government hospital refused to provide any care for her until he could bring a paper from his local government substantiating his financial situation. This, of course, would take too long. Stephanie made arrangements to bring her to Soddo Christian Hospital because we have, at least, a benevolent fund which takes care of these patients during these circumstances. Many of you have given to this fund making this a possibility. Stephanie called me saying she was bringing the patient over and was going to have to perform a destructive delivery. After this gruesome procedure she was examined and it was thought that her uterus had ruptured. In actuality, her uterus was like a stretched out balloon and had no contractility to it. In an attempt to save her life, she was taken immediately to surgery, while three visitors, two medical students from England and Kim Hardy from Grand Haven donated their A+ blood. At the time of surgery her stretched out uterus would not contract and was necrotic from severe infection and prolonged labor. We performed a hysterectomy removing her necrotic foul smelling uterus. The blood loss and the infection were too overwhelming for her little body and she died a few hours later in our ICU. This death could have been prevented had she not waited so long to seek medical attention…but the reality of her death is that her extreme poverty contributed to her ultimately death. For more on Meskeram’s story please see Dr. Stephanie Hail’s blog site at: www.drhail.wordpress.com
- Ovarian Tumor: Earlier this week we operated on a patient with a massive ovarian tumor larger than a basketball. The outcome was postive and the patient recovered and did very well. She had lived carrying this tumor inside her for seven years. You can see pictures of this tumor at our blog site at www.soddospecialdelivery.org. Go to the gallery at the top of the page and click on it.
- Kim Hardy: We are very happy to have Kim Hardy, ultrasound and X-ray educator from Grand Haven, MI staying with us for five weeks. Kim has been patiently instructing me and my midwives and nurses in ultrasonography. She is also working with the techs in the X-ray department helping them improve their imaging in both X-ray and ultrasound and in orthopedics working with Dr. Anderson in performing nerve blocks. Yesterday she went out to a rural clinic with Dr. Mary Vanderkooi. Not only did she bring her teaching skills to Soddo but also carried a suitcase full of suture and other much appreciated items including colorful hats for our OR staff that had been made by our OR staff back in Muskegon. Alice is thrilled to have a bottle of Oxyclean to clean my dirty white coats!
- Teaching: Alice loves her new job teaching English at the private high school near the hospital. She goes Monday through Wednesday from 3:30-5:00 P.M. helping 10th grade students to prepare for the important national examination they will take in June. This test determines whether these students will continue on to the 11th grade and possibly university. If they fail the test their formal high school education will be over and they can move on to either vocational schools or choose to quit. Alice stated, “I really become alive in this classroom.” She is continuing her work at our small school on the hospital compound as well as overseeing our hospital gardeners.
- Easter: Easter is a big holiday in Ethiopia and Soddo in particular. I asked our Amharic language teacher, Paulus, how the Christians here celebrate Easter. He said that a good majority of Christians spend all day Good Friday in fasting and prayer at their various churches for about 12 hours. On Saturday night they gather at their individual congregations at 8:00 P.M. for an all night praise/prayer service. At 4:00 A.M. Easter morning many of the churches gather at one place for further singing and praying until dawn at which time they return to their various churches and have services until about 11:00 A.M. Afterwards they return home for a special holiday meal. All of the homes are decorated with grass for the traditional coffee ceremony and many of the bajoj’s (mini taxis) are decorated with palm branches. Paulus asked me how the ferengis (foreigners) celebrate Easter. I was too embarrassed to mention the Easter bunny, colored eggs, chocolate candy and fancy new Easter garments. Our Easter this year was very different. For the first time we experienced a Seder meal. A Seder meal is a meal designed by Messianic Jews celebrating the traditional Passover meal but also tying the scriptures to Jesus, the Messiah. We celebrated this on Friday night sitting on blankets and pillows in our lapa (traditional thatched house) with all the missionaries. Earlier that morning Alice and I had the privilege of praying and worshipping with our Ethiopian brothers and sisters in church. One of the hospital workers helped translate for us. Our friends, Elizabeth and Peter came from Addis to spend the weekend with us. Early this Easter morning we woke up at 3:30 A.M. and walked a short distance to a local church where we worshipped with about 150 young people gathered outside in the church courtyard. A large bonfire was blazing and a live band played praise music as the kids worshipped, singing and dancing. It could have almost been an American youth group except that the girls danced with the girls and the boys danced with the boys! At dawn, while walking home, it was thrilling to hear the echos of worship coming from all quarters of the town as people lifted their voices in praise to the ressurrected Jesus. Later this morning we worshipped with our Soddo Hospital missionaries singing many traditional Easter songs followed by a delicious brunch in the lapa. Alice made her traditional hot cross buns. Later today we visited with friends and then I was called back to the hospital to take care of a woman who was hemorraging internally due to a ruptured tubal pregnancy.
- Thank you for your continuous prayers. We covet them. Love, Mark and Allison