Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
I worked with the eye team again today. I kind of love it. Today Cyrille, one of the day volunteers on the eye team and I had a conversation that made me smile. It went like this:
"Estelle, please where are you from?"
Apparently this is quite an achievement. Or at least a novelity here in Togo. :)
*Yovo is the term locals here use to refer to a white person.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
We start the morning at 6:45 am when we head to the hospitality centre. During the morning the patients are seen by the opthalmic and eye tech specialists. If we are able to help them they are given a date for surgery. After lunch the patients who are seen do not necessarily need surgery; many of these patients need glasses to improve their vision. They are given an eye exam and then the appropriate glasses.
Hundreds of people stand in line on the eye screening day in February
At the hospitality centre where patients are given a date for surgery
Waiting in the hospital on the day of surgery
Saturday, June 19, 2010
My life is comfortable. It is easy. I have a family who love me. I have good friends. I have everything I need and more. But I still want more. Somehow I think it will make my life more comfortable. More easy. And then I worry when I don't get it. And then I get impatient. Last night I started reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love. His words spoke to me:
"Worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.
Stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.
Basically, these two behaviours communicate that the it's okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we've been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won't be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and in the context of God's strength, our problems are small, indeed."
I found this five-minute clip filmed by ITV Tyne Tees last year when the AFM was docked in Benin. I look at the patients and their families who come to our ship. Their lives are a complete contrast to mine. Their life is not comfortable. It is not easy. Some of them have been abandoned by their family and friends. Many of them have very little. But they smile through the struggle. And they are grateful for what they have.
This afternoon I was having a chat with my friend Kelly who visited a local church. She was telling me how the pastor was sharing that God had called him to live in this place (a village we call the fishing village). Sometimes he wishes for rain in the desert but he is at peace because this is where God has placed him. Kelly told me about some shocking realities of his life. It was humbling to hear. And convicting.
This is what I have learnt from the weekends lessons. In the words of Francis Chan:
"Frankly, you need to get over yourself. It might sound harsh, but that's seriously what it means.
Maybe life's pretty good for you right now. God has given you this good stuff so that you can show the world a person who enjoys blessings, but who is still totally obsessed with God.
Or maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard...It is easy to become disillusioned with the circumstances of our lives compared to others'. But in the presence of God, He gives us a deeper peace and joy that transcends it all."
In a nutshell: Don't worry. Be happy. :)
Friday, June 18, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
A part of me knows why and another part of me really doesn't. I find myself continually wrestling with God about life. About stuff.
I think part of my frustration stems from the fact that just when I think I have closed the door on a chapter, it creaks open again. And like an inquisitive child I stick my head into the narrow opening to take another look inside. And for just a brief moment it is enjoyable. But then bleh sets in. And it lingers.
Why can't I find a lock and bolt for the door and make sure that it is shut for good? While I was cleaning my classroom today, Britt Nicole's song Have Your Way was playing. She sums up things better than I ever could.
Abel had a normal childhood until a problem arose following an injection. His parents noticed he was having difficulty learning to crawl. His muscles had stopped growing, but his bones had not. As a result, his legs were not growing correctly because there was so little musculature to direct them. They began to bend backward at the knee, forcing his upper thighs out behind him. His parents took him to three different doctors, but none of them knew what to do for him.
Despite this condition, the resolute Abel learned to lean forward, correcting his balance enough to walk, climb and do just about anything any other active boy can do. He even became the goalkeeper on his football (soccer) team. The only thing he couldn't do was ride a bicycle, since it requires sitting straight on the seat and pushing down on the pedals.
Abel's physical deformity made him the target of ridicule from other children. But he remained optimistic thanks to his joyful spirit and his wonderfully supportive parents.
One day, there was an announcement on the radio that a Mercy Ship was coming to Togo, offering free surgeries. Abel's hopeful father took his son to an orthopedic screening in Lomè.
Before surgery, Abel climbs into the Mercy Ships vehicle on hisway to the Hospitality Centre.
After two surgeries, a happy Abel and his father relax in the ward.
Abel enjoys sharing his picture books with roommates at the Hospitality Centre
A happy Abel tests his straight legs and crutches at the Hospitality Centre
A smiling Abel gets used to walking on straight legs with crutches on the dock beside the ship, as his dad looks on in the background
With the World Cup approaching, Abel is intensely interested in watching his favorite sport … and especially his favorite player, Chelsea's Didier Drogba. After so many weeks of recuperation, he is eagerly looking forward to getting out on the field himself.
But Abel's long-term goal is not to become a famous soccer player. He is determined to become a surgeon, like those on the Mercy Ship, “ because of the things they have done for me ,” he said.
Abel and his dad happily show off the casts in post op. after their removal.
Story by Elaine B. WinnEdited by Nancy PredainaPhotos by Debra Bell and Liz Cantu