So I had said that I would write about my trip into Cotonou with my roommate, who was looking for shoes...but really, all I might write you already know or can guess. It was dusty. Dirty. Crowded. Chaotic. No, I did not get run over by a crazy driver or a zemidjan (the crew calls them "jimmy johns"), thank you Jesus for that! No, I did not buy anything--this time. Yes, I ignored about a million hisses and the Beninoise version of catcalls. Yes, it was hot--blazing hot. This is the one place where I could really use the words of the wicked witch of the west: "I'm melting, I'm melting!!" Because that's what happens when you go outside in Benin.
So since you already knew (or guessed) all of the above information, let me move on to more important things. Like, for instance, why I can't stop smiling.
I love it here.
I just finished 12 hours on the ward with my VVF ladies, and I love what do. The integration of faith and life and work here is wonderful. We pray before the shift starts; disciplers come in to preach and pray and sing with the patients; we watch the Gospel of Luke dubbed in Fon and the patients hang on every word. Sometimes we pause in the middle of a shift and gather--nurses and translators--and pray for particularly complicated surgeries that are in progress. Every time I walk a patient down to the OR for surgery, the OR nurse, a translator, and myself gather around the patient and pray... and each time I nearly cry. One of these times I won't be able to hold it in!
And we laugh--a lot. Honestly, who wouldn't laugh at my crazy pantomimes for questions like "have you pooped today?" and "does it hurt down there?"
This is what nursing is supposed to be like. Cups of water. A little pain medicine. A lot of laughter. Singing. Holding hands. Bringing hope and healing to women who have spent large portions of their lives ashamed, abandoned by their husbands, and outcast from their families and communities.
I know it will not always be easy or fun or successful. Nor will I always feel like I am making a difference here.
But today... I love it. And I can't wait to go back in the morning.