As Josh and I were sitting down one evening last week sharing the story of our time here in Burundi with a friend, it was amazing looking back. Verbalizing and sharing everything that has happened along the way to the opening of the health center – both mountains and valleys – we were reminded of all that God has done this past year. It was both refreshing and encouraging to recount it all again as if we were hearing this story of God’s amazing grace and unending love for the very first time.
Multiple accidents, injuries, sickness, extortion, delays, frustration, tears, and moments ruled by hopelessness, looking back, it was all worth it to get to this point.
As I lay here sick in bed wishing I could be at work, while Josh has still been ill for quite some time and is doing his best to run the clinic in my absence, I can’t help but think…
Does it ever work out where every aspect of our lives can be working perfectly all at the same time?
Am I surprised? No.
Now that we are open, we will be facing continued opposition, maybe even more so. On our first day, we started with a staff devotion on Ephesians 6:11, the armour of God. We are in a constant battle and we need to put on the armour of God every day. We are beyond blessed by a staff who love the Lord, who call out in prayer, who fight on their knees.
As we were recounting our story, we were reminded of all the blessings and miracles that God has provided to help us get to this point. How in each scenario, we realized that we never needed to worry, because He had it under control the whole time…how everything has been worked out in His perfect timing. How so many times, we truly did witness real-life miracles, the ones that you read or hear about and are astounded.
God is so good. As Josh and I were returning to Gitega from a weekend in Bujumbura where we were picking up more supplies and medications that we needed, we were driving through our community, and we noticed that a LOT more people were waving and smiling and giving the thumbs up than usual. Forgetting that the Shammah Health Center logo is now pasted on the side of the truck, we realized that all of these people were giving us a big greeting because the health centre is now open That was a definite “movie moment.” Unexpected and beautiful.
We treated over 90 patients in our first week. A busy week with tons of malaria and intestinal infections, daily education sessions, returning patients, and positive feedback from our community. We have even been using our hospital beds already. We had a young pregnant women come in with a severe malaria infection that needed IV treatment. It was exciting for Josh to use his nursing skills again, inserting a perfect IV into a small woman with dark black skin, who was both pregnant, dehydrated and malnourished – not an easy task. It is exciting to see the pharmacy I set up, have so much of what we need, even though at the time I didn’t think I knew what I was doing or if I had chosen to order the correct medications.
In our first week we had over half of the people who owed money to SHC, return to pay back their debts. This is truly incredible. People were touched at how we trusted them enough to come back to pay, wanting to give them the medication first instead of waiting for them to come with their money upfront. An old man came back in to pay and he kept asking me to make sure that his debt notice was removed from his file so that he could come back again. He was so concerned about not being allowed to be a patient with us again if we held the debt against him. We were moved, seeing this man care so much about being able to come back to see us. This debt-forgiveness program was not planned. It happened on a whim on day one, when a women did not have enough money to finish paying for the malaria medications for her very sick child. I was not going to withhold life-saving medications from this child, so that is how it all started. We see that they feel respected, trusted, and that they are being treated with dignity and love. As you watch each women untie the piece of fabric they wear, find the hidden knot on the end, untie it, and pull out a tiny filthy ball of money, you can’t help but turn to mush.
This has been one of the most amazing weeks of my entire life. Truly a dream come true. We are both privileged and honoured to have a front row seat to God’s spectacular show.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” – Psalm 125:5
Thank you for the contribution you have each made and the prayers you have prayed to help us get to this point. We could not have done it without you. Please keep praying with us as we start this new journey, with new struggles, and a battle that never ends.
Blessings to you all,