Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dear precious one,

I'm amazed by your faith,
      that whether you've had your fistula for 5 months or 10 years, you took that first step onto the gangway hoping for a new life; freedom from ridicule, embarrassment, and shame. 

I'm amazed by your perseverance,
     that you would leave your family, all that is familiar and safe, to venture thousands of kilometers into the unknown--all for healing. 

I'm amazed by your trust,
     in God and us. You willingly put your life in our hands.  You trust us with the most painful and private areas of your life. Allowing us to care for you in ways only your family would.  You are vulnerable and trusting. 

I'm amazed by your love,
     despite all that you've been through.  I'm in awe of how much love you hold in your hearts, and how freely you share it with the nurses, and day crew.  Not a trace of bitterness towards God or people, just love. You've lost a lot in your short lives: babies, husbands, family, and function.  One event in your life has changed the course of your life forever. But have hope, there's a new life ahead!

I'm amazed how love transforms.
     My desire, dear one, is that you would know you are loved regardless of whether you are wet or dry; that your identity doesn't have to rest on that one broken part of you. I love seeing you turn into the fun, silly girls you are as you're loved on and cared for.   


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Same same but different

     Of course my best intentions were to write a blog at minimum every week, but alas here it is the end of week 4 of surgeries, and not one letter has made it to this page! It has been an amazing 5 weeks since I arrived, I can tell you that! In my last post I mentioned how it's always hard for me to leave my family and come here, but every time I come here God gently reminds me that I have family on this side of the ocean, too. It doesn't make me miss my family less, but it's like having salve for a wound. I feel so at home here, so known by those around me, so comfortable and with so many amazing people who wouldn't!? 

     A lot has happened in these 5 weeks, but I'll try and fill you all in! My first week back was so full. I barely blinked and before I knew it, it was Sunday and a bus full of ladies had arrived from very far away. I got a page that my ladies were on the ship, my favorite moment! (see this post) As I walked into reception it was immediately apparent why these beautiful ladies had suffered obstructed labor that left a hole in their bladder.  They were all well under 5 feet tall! Most of them looked like little girls even though they had all been mothers at one time.

    Madagascar is so different than any West African country I've been to so far.  The people are more quiet, and reserved; they dress differently; the country is green and lush; but the reasons women suffer fistulas is the same here as it is everywhere: young girls that are underdeveloped; lack of access to quality emergency obstetric services; and villages so far away from hospitals it would take days to walk to help. The ladies here carry the same stoic shell; they hide well the pain and misery-buried deep and covered with hard work and a smile when prodded. Sometimes I forget how much they've endured in their short lives. Pregnancy is not always a joyous occasion for a woman here. For some it's a guarantee of a difficult labor, loss of a child, and loss of function. 

     But there is hope! Function can be restored, hearts can be mended, and lives changed. Last week we had our first Dress Ceremony. A celebration not only of their physical healing, but also their emotional healing. A new dress is a symbol of a new life, a new hope, a new beginning. How precious are these women!? I love to see their transformations...they go from shy and quiet to silly and funny.