Monday, June 02, 2008

Cedarville University Missions Trip update from Zimbabwe

View Larger MapMany of you know my fascination with the current economic situation in Zimbabwe, Africa. Sometimes I get wrapped in all the numbers of their crashing dollar and miss the human side. Please read Nathan Williams account of being a Team Leader for the Cedarville nursing Missions trip to Zimbabwe. Please be in prayer for the people of Zimbabwe. Incidentally, the Zimbabwe dollar lost about 1/4 of its value this weekend alone and is trading near 1 Billion to one.

team is delayed until July, but CU grad and one of the team leaders, Nathan Williams went ahead and sends this report 5/28/2008:

It's great to write to you all again from beautiful Zimbabwe! I've been in the country about a week and a half now, and just today completed my first full week of work out at the Karanda Mission Hospital. Where I am is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Harare, which is the capital of Zim. Out here I am literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by small villages, farms, and open space. Luckily, we have running water, electricity (at least 3/4 of the time), and satellite internet.

Just to give you a quick rundown of my normal day: I wake up at 6:00 AM and get ready for my busy day. Chapel for the hospital staff starts promptly at 7 AM, at which we sing a few Shona hymns (Shona is the tribal language of most of Zim) and one of the missionaries shares a short devotional. I then head off to work my 7 AM - 4 PM shift in Female ward (the hospital is divided into Pediatrics, Male, Female, and Maternity private rooms). A normal shift involves passing medications in the morning, assessing the patients with the doctor during rounds, and then a huge pile of paperwork to record all new orders, admissions, and discharges. Needless to say, nursing in a third world country is VERY different from the US. Over here we re-use virtually everything. Gloves are washed, powdered, and re-sterilized. vials of medicine are washed and reused to collect lab specimins. Syringes are re-used. We have 1 (count it: one) oxygen mask to use for Nebulized breathing treatments for the entire hospital...we just carry it from patient to patient as they need treatments.

I get off work around 4 PM, and after that I fill my evening with playing with the village kids (who are AWESOME!!)...and they're teaching me Shona language. I visit the shops in the village, take walks up and down the old airplane landing strip, hang out with missionaries, etc. Thursday night we have prayer meeting with the missionaries and Hospital staff. Saturday mornings I help with their AWANA program at the church, Sunday is church...all in Shona, so I can't understand a word, but the singing is probably the most enjoyable worship I've ever had! Africans REALLY get into their music...many in the congregation bring their own drums, tambourines, and maracas.

It's definitely tough working in this type of environment. around 25% of the population-at-large is infected with HIV/AIDS....but that jumps to about 75% of the hospital patients who have HIV. The most common things we see are TB, Malaria, Pneumonia, and complicated pregnancies...most of them resulting from AIDS. Many of the patients truly have no earthly hope of ever recovering from their illnesses and returning to a normal life. Luckily Karanda Hospital also offers spiritual care. While I don't personally do much in the way of witnessing at the hospital, our full-time staff of counselors prays with the patients and shares the love of Christ to those who are in distress. There is daily chapel for patients, weekly hymn singing by the staff, and ward-by-ward devotionals and worship time led by the pastor's wife and some other ladies from the church, Karanda Fellowship Chapel, which is here on the hospital compound.

Everything has gone very well since I arrived out here...a true answer to prayer. The violence and civil unrest that threatened to close the hospital not two weeks ago has completely subsided, and this area seems calm for the moment. Unfortunately this can not be said for the rest of the nation of Zimbabwe. Throughout the country are roving gangs of militia, police, and army personnel intimidating, beating, and burning the homes of political opposition supporters. Please be in prayer for those who are suffering in a very real way. Even those who have homes have great difficulty acquiring food and basic necessities due to the economic situation. Zim's inflation is uncontrolled. When I exchanged my US dollars for Zim currency last week, I was given 250 Million Zim dollars for each US dollar (my grocery bill was approximately 30 billion). 3 days later a doctor from the hospital exchanged his US dollars for 370 Million Zim dollars. Even nurses in this country make barely 20 billion dollars per month, hardly enough for food and clothing, much less transport costs and school fees for children. Life is tough for Zimbabweans, but they are very resourceful and make do with what they can obtain.

Prayer requests:
1. The political and economic situation in Zim, including prayer for the upcoming presidential election on June 27th.
2. That I am able to learn more of the Shona language.
3. That I am able to use challenges and struggles I face in this unique setting to grow in my Christian walk.
4. For the hundreds of Karanda Hospital patients who's only hope is Christ.

I look forward to hearing from all of you, and how things are going back in America. I miss you all and hope all is well.

Taken from

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