Wednesday, May 23rd

Wednesday, May 23rd:

Greetings from Africa!

Today was our final day in which the team was split between Selian Hospital and Hospice visits. About half of us ministered to those in Hospice and half of us served in Selian. Overall, we have enjoyed the brief rhythm of these three days, yet we approach our next endeavors with eager anticipation.

Of those in Hospice, the team saw much of what one what would expect in the rather bleak realm of such an occupation. However, as is a constant theme of our trip here in Tanzania, the team has witnessed both truly inspiring and haunting scenes of this sojourn that is the Human experience in a fallen world.

Some patients, beset by terminal illnesses which are so severe they cannot be avoided, seem to be at such peace, nestled lovingly in a rich net of friends, family and neighbors (what a sadly foreign concept to us Americans, to see Neighbors so present and involved, even in dark times). Where some patients, found themselves alone, alienated, and stigmatized, all unfortunate side-effects from a disease they could not possibly prevent, or worse, a disease that came as the result of one brief lapse in judgment decades ago.

Of those who served in Selian Hospital, there was much to be learned by all parties involved. As Dr. Wheeler said during his teaching presentation this morning: “We think we come here to Tanzania to teach you and to educate you, but I can tell you I learn about as much from you as you do from me…”. Nursing students witnessed procedures virtually unheard of in the states as difficult circumstances foster difficult cases to treat. The foreigners brought their fortunately heightened academic knowledge as well as their outsider’s experience to the already clever and wise Tanzanians, along with much needed medical supplies and equipment.

The native doctors and nurses carried out a few surgeries with expert precision under expert guidance, as they operated in conditions a world apart from the clean, bright, and rich environments of even standard US hospitals. When power went out, and the backup generator was found to be out of gas, the teams went on in their work, nearly unfazed by what is, at best, a substantial inconvenience. 

I think this scene of courage and resilience sums up the whole of the Tanzanian people, as I have come to see them. Resilience in body and mind. Things that would drive any American mad, complaining, suing, and disoriented, are met by Tanzanians with “Nimaisha” which means, “it is life”. While on the outset, it sounds tainted by hopelessness (which is no doubt a prevalent force in such a poverty-ridden land), in truth, it is generally of Endurance of the most admirable quality. The faith of the Tanzanian people is strong, and is no stranger to all forms of adversity.

Historically, Christianity has always flourished in the margins, at the outset. If God continues His work in the hearts of Tanzania (as we believe He most certainly will) than Tanzania is bound for a Golden Age of flourishing and prosperity under the prolonged weight of all of its current burdens. We pray that the image of God’s kingdom would be seared into the being of Africa, through Tanzania, very soon. 

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

With the privilege of posting this update, and sincerity

Robert Riley