It is my last day here in Machame and I can honestly say I have mixed feelings about returning to the US. I am obviously very excited to see friends/family and be back in Durham, but I will definitely miss this place and people that I have called “home” for the past 5 weeks. This really hit me when I was getting off Mt. Kilimanjaro and when I thought about going “home”, my first thought was the guest house in Machame.
Last week, before leaving for the hike, I was able to get up in front of everyone at morning worship and share my goodbyes. (It is custom here to stand up your first day of worship to introduce yourself and then the last to say thank you). I shared with everyone that I had 3 major prayer requests coming into this time in Machame: 1) that I would experience Jesus in a whole new way and be reminded of my identity as his child 2) that I would learn how they practice medicine here and be able to be an extra hand of help when they needed and 3) that I would be able to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I can now say that the Lord has answered all three in more ways than I ever expected.
First, the Lord has been sweet to give me rest, peace, and quiet time this trip; something I was in desperate need of and something I have learned I need to create more of back home. In Tanzania they refer to this way of life as “pole, pole”, which means “slowly, slowly”. Slowing down has allowed me time to think, reflect, and worship. I have been reflecting on a quote by Charles Spurgeon which says “In all lands, the believer is equally a pilgrim and a stranger; and yet in every region the Lord is his dwelling place, even as he has been to his saints in all generations”. Here I am in a completely new place, new culture, and unable to speak the language and yet I feel at home; how can that be? I believe it is because the Lord has made a dwelling place here and therefore I will forever feel at home. I have experienced this by the kindness of the staff, the warmness of the community and the sheer beauty of this place. I am incredible grateful and thankful to be coming back rejuvenated and revived from such an experience.
Second, I have learned so much more about medicine while being here; not just concretely how to treat and diagnose but about wholistic medicine and how to care for the person, family and community. No doubt there are times when myself and some of the other students would question a diagnosis or pass judgement on the way someone examined or didn’t examine a patient. But last night the students and I got a chance to talk about what we have seen and realized that there is a difference between a lack of knowledge and a lack of resources. In a third world country these two items can look the same. Many times, when I would question why they were making a certain diagnosis, I realized that it was not the lack of knowledge they had but rather a lack of resources. Therefore, if someone comes into the hospital unconscious and you suspect a stroke, you send them to the ICU and manage their blood pressure. Why? Because they don’t have a CT scanner and the clinical officer knows that uncontrolled hypertension is a problem in this area and therefore if they can get the patient’s BP down, the patient might wake up at which time they can get a better history of what happened. I have learned here that you can practice medicine despite having all the resources. But, I am also very grateful for the resources we do have in America to make diagnoses and hope to facilitate getting those resources here one day.
Third, Kili! I don’t know what to say except AMAZING! It was definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done (which is not saying much because, let’s be honest, I have not done that many challenging things in my life). But it was so rewarding at the top. The summit was gorgeous and a surreal moment. I highly recommend anyone and everyone listen to the song “Heaven Meets Earth” by All Sons and Daughters to understand a little of what it was like to be on top of that mountain. The lyrics are here:
All light appeared from nothing, All light appeared from nothing, With the Spirit moving over waters, Heaven meets Earth.
From light then came the morning, From light then came the morning, There was sky in the middle of the waters, Where heaven meets Earth.
The sun revealed your beauty, The sun revealed your beauty, Every mountain bowing down before you, Heaven meets Earth.
Creation sings your glory, Creation sings your glory, Hallelujah, rising like the daylight, Heaven meets Earth.
Last, I want to thank all of you who are receiving these updates. My family who has always supported, guided, encouraged and been a source of wisdom, even when I go on “crazy” adventures, thank you. My friends and church family who also prayed, encouraged, wrote letters for my time here, thank you. My teachers and Duke OGACHI staff that helped me plan this trip a year and a half ago, gave me credit hours so that this would be feasible to accomplish this semester, thank you. We are made to be in community and I am so utterly grateful for mine!
See you in Durham, CT, PA, CA, GA or other parts!