Monday, October 24, 2011

Bangladesh...purpose and will.

9000 miles and a left turn east from Phoenix is where we were for a week. Bangladesh. A Muslim country, one of the poorest in the world, close to 25% of the children under 5 years old never making it to their 6th birthday, and an average daily income of $2 for most of the working poor. Medical Mercy came to see the children. We did that and more. 21 team members: Sarjita, Lara, Vic, Bob, Kelly, Deanna, Anne, Heather, "Parks", Diane, Celia, Doreen, "Tico", Dave, Michael, Bill, Jill, Sue, Darlene, Blair and I.

In 3 full days and 2 half days of clinics we saw 918 medical patients, 88 dental patients

installed water filtration systems in 5 projects

taught comprehensive first aid and left an advanced first aid kit for each of the 5 projects

did nutritional assessments on all of the patients

did dental hygiene education

and collected all the information on all of the patients in a comprehensive computer database with pictures of each child seen.

Not to say that all of this was easy. Getting to Bangladesh was a trip we won't soon forget (Kuwait and Pakistan were unscheduled countries we visited). Getting back to Dhaka on the last day of clinics is also a trip we won't forget: of the 6 vans we had, 4 broke down during the 10 hour road trip back to Dhaka from Khulna. That said, the clinics ran well, pharmacy

was dynamic and we worked hard.

So here are the final thoughts. When we are in a country that has values different from what we believe in, we need to begin to understand our purpose: to serve, to be humble and to be compassionate. To all. Regardless. We were in a village where the imam of the village came and chose to sit with his entourage to observe the activities of our medical team.

He had the power to make trouble for us or not. I introduced my self, spoke with him, and we shared blessings on each other. His to me was Mohammed based, I to him was Christ based. We smiled at each other as we clasped our hands together, and then touched our hands to our hearts. mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual acceptance for who we each were in God's eyes. He saw our children praying.

He saw how we took care of, cared about and cared for the children in his village. He came to me later and said thank you. I couldn't have asked for anything more. Perhaps he saw a little of what we did as a reflection of

of who we are. Perhaps he saw our purpose. To serve. Perhaps he saw the will. The will of our God who sends us out to serve. Perhaps we too saw what we were supposed to see. Children who are vulnerable, hungry, poor, and at times forgotten looking for a place in this world to experience life. In the few short days that we were there, I pray that we were able to do that. To give them a chance to experience a life that will be filled with God's love and grace. We gave them medicine, dental, first aid, clean water, and above all, we gave them love. Something I hope they never forget. For that is our purpose and will. To serve humbly, with compassion and love, giving and never taking, and remembering that we leave behind a chance for a better life.
In all things give thanks,


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bangladesh clinic day...when we think we've got it bad...

Not much to say after one sees a child like this.

We drove about 2 hours to a very remote village where we spent the day seeing over 200 children, and fair number of adults. Medical, dental, water filtration, public health education, and first aid training all done under the sun, heat unbearable, no wind, and some relief from the shade. A large Muslim population lead by an imam, were wary at first, then open to exams, then becoming increasingly anxious as the time approached for us to leave, knowing that many who had been waiting would not be seen. It is difficult to say "no more patients" today. The children were malnourished, sickly overall, tired and lacking any semblance of a happy emotion. I looked at their faces and realized how little they have to be joyous about. And we think we have it bad sometimes. I wonder just how much I could take living the life they live. Not much I bet. I probably would hope for the best, and expect the worst.

So the question posed is this: just how bad does it have to get for us before we throw in the towel and say I give up? From what I saw today, there were a whole lot of people who had thrown in the towel a long time ago, accepted the hand that had been dealt them, and learned to live with what they had. They had nothing. Not much to learn to live with. Did we make a difference today? Yes we did. Not by giving them medications, pulling teeth, bringing in a water filtration system, nor by teaching them first aid. What we did is validate those we saw as worthy of being recognized as human beings, worthy of being loved and cared about, and giving them a sense of dignity. One person even said as much. A mother of a disabled child knew that we could not do much for him. Small head, injured brain, unable to walk, nor sit. But the smile he gave us when we reached out to him and held him without shying away from his inadequacies, gave his mother validation as how ell she was caring for him and how much he meant to her. And how much he means to us. Life is what it is and face it; we don't really have it that bad, even on our worst days.

In all things give thanks,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011 it all that we expect?

In a country predominantly Muslim, we came and shared.

Some listened, some accepted, some walked away. A woman with 3 husbands, one of whom beats her. A mother of a young girl with a heart defect. A mother of a child with disabilities. A few hundred patients seen. All that we expected.
Another day and the clinic was the smoothest we've ever experienced. We drove a short hour to Jogipol where the Pastor had the clinic set up and ready to go. Individual exam cubbies were ready for us. The children came, we examined, we treated, we cared. Another day where the usual tracts were run: medical, dental, hygiene, first aid and water filtration. And here is where the story begins to stand out. Two weeks ago, the leadership of the project and church met and prayed for a water filtration system. They did not know we were bringing anything that resembled that. We pulled out the filtration system, attached it to a huge drum, and filtered water that was pure as our water in the US. Are prayers answered? You decide. We already know the answer.

In all things give thanks,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bangladesh clinic day...when it all comes together

(internet is slow and cannot upload much; a picture now and more when I can; sorry about that)

And it did come together...

Six vehicles, 30 people, one and a half hour ride and a river crossing by ferry, is how we started the day today. Chalna project is an isolated community that hasn't seen medical care in over 15 years. The children were malnourished, some sickly, but all were laughing and smiling nonetheless. Prayer was the order for the children.

It was for us as well. A Hindu woman came to Christ, others heard, and wondered if we really were who we said we were. Servants. And we served. 200 medical patients, 19 dental patients (it takes a while to extract teeth; Dr. Bob and Diane were at it constantly).Public health education, dental hygiene, water filtration system, first aid training, nutritional assessments, medical examinations,and dental work were all being done simultaneously, the team taking on all facets of health intervention and training in a distant remote village in the southern part of Bangladesh. A ballet of sorts, one continuous act, and an encore. We came to a village and within 6 hours left them with a chance for a better life. A bold, ambitious undertaking, and perhaps a little glorified, but it worked. There is nothing better than the see the smile after something is given freely and taken freely as well, no strings attached. Unconditional love I believe it's called.

In all things give thanks,


Monday, October 17, 2011

Traveling isn't Bangladesh

Dhaka. Final destination via a scheduled stop in Dubai and a change of planes, but we were treated to an unscheduled stop in Kuwait City and Karachi, Pakistan. Strong headwinds across the northern hemisphere slowed us done considerably, bucked us from left to right and up and down, and ate up our fuel. Kuwait was a refueling stop. An hour and a half out of our way of route, then another hour and a half on the ground, and of course you guessed it...we miss our connecting flight out of Dubai. So on to Karachi, Pakistan, a 6 hour lay over then on to Dhaka. But there is someone in control of all this, isn't there? He intervenes, moves, chooses, and makes it all work because...well, because He can. We have miles behind us and many miles ahead of us, with lots to do, and still a long way to go once we get to Dhaka. Not much to do about it. No choices. We do what we can. And that is pray and have a positive attitude.
(24 hours later):
We are finally in Khulna. I stayed behind to wait for all the boxes of meds that never made it with us last night, the team went on ahead and ran a half day clinic seeing 100 patients and 15 dental. We are all finally together, meeds and equipment in hand, and full days of clinics ahead. The purpose? To ensure that the children we care about have a life they can enjoy and experience.

In all things give thanks,


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bangladesh and the troubles begin..

So much for blogging good news. This will be short just to give you an idea of what has happened, what is happening and what will happen. Short synopsis: we left Phoenix for Chicago, picked up the rest of the team, left Chicago for Abu Dhabi, drained the fuel tanks on the plane there due to head winds, stopped in Kuwait to refuel, got to Abu Dhabi late, missed our connecting flight to Dhaka, got a flight to Karachi, Pakistan in order to catch another flight to Dhaka, (or we could of stayed in Kuwait overnight...who wanted to do that-not!), got to Karachi, connecting flight to from Karachi to Dhaka delayed, spent 10 hrs in a transit area in Karachi, finally getting to Dhaka after leaving Phoenix 42 hours earlier, and got all our luggage but none of the 15 boxes of meds and supplies (almost 800 lbs of needed stuff). That's it. Done. Nothing we can do about it. Team spent the night in Dhaka and left early this morning for a 6 hour drive to the first clinic with the dental stuff, public health education stuff, nutritional assessment stuff, a few pills here and there that team members had in their personal belongings and stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs. They are going to run a clinic as best they can. I on the other hand am still in Dhaka waiting to go back to the airport this afternoon to see if the meds come in on the next flight. If they do, I make an 8 hour drive to the south of Bangladesh to catch up with the team sometime very late tonight. If the meds don't arrive....well, I don't really know what I'm going to do. The troubles we've seen. The anxiety of it all. The unexpected. The not knowing. It is what it is. And with all that I still say, in all things give thanks.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It begins tomorrow….

Tomorrow at 1:30pm we being the 36 plus hour trek to the southern part of Bangladesh, to visit 5 village projects and provide medical care to children who have never seen a physician or nurse in their life. A team of 21 servants are ready, over 800 pounds of medicines and medical equipment are pack, and we will start our challenge by trying to get through customs. So, let the prayers begin! First, that we are escorted through customs with no fees, confiscation, or hardships. Second, for safe travels in the air, on the dirt roads, and yes, on the skiffs and ferries that we will using to cross the rivers to get to the villages. Third, for God’s guidance in showing us those who seek Him. And fourth, for patience, health, and bonding between team members. I’ll be posting to the blog as often as internet availability allows, tweeting and posting short snippets on Facebook from the clinics using my trusty BB if I get service, and many of the tea m members will be doing the same. This will be one of the more challenging missions. Distance, no down time, little rest, and a lot of patients will be what we face. Nonetheless, we go, we do, we serve. Can’t ask for anything better, now can we? Come follow us. DSC02148

In all things give thanks,