The thoughts of a woman trying to live simply yet abundantly, contentedly yet expectantly, wisely yet adventurously... all for His glory.


and so it begins

My online silence has been due in large part to an overwhelming lack of energy. The day-to-day routine of living on the ship has been so draining for me recently that I have just barely managed to half-heartedly start one or two blog posts. I have so much to tell you: a good friend came to the ship (and will stay to the end of the outreach!); I finally gave blood to a patient; I traveled to Ghana with some girlfriends and had a fabulous time; we had another little baby die on the ship. So many stories to tell, yet right now I must tell a story about the very reason I came back to the ship: the VVF ladies.

Tomorrow is our first VVF screening day, the day where about 75 women (that we know of) will come to the ship to see if they are surgical candidates. Women will come from all corners of Togo, some speaking languages that we have no translators for. Some will have walked for days to get to a bus, then endured 10 hours' drive while urine slowly dampened their skirts and tracked paths down their legs. They come from brokenness, shame, isolation, and unspeakable pain. They arrive at the ship looking for a miracle because what we offer is so much more than mere surgery. If by God's grace we are able to operate successfully the woman may have her very life back, returning to her home, community, family, husband, and occupation: all things lost due to the fistula. This is why we are all here: to be a part of the transformative work that God does here in West Africa.

Pre-screening a woman with probable VVF at a general screening
So today Maggie and I will head to the Hospitality Center (where the women from northern Togo are staying at the moment) to begin the long process of gathering histories from these women. Do you leak urine all the time, both day and night? Did it start after a difficult labor? How many years have you had this trouble? All of our questions help us to know if a surgery will help.

Maggie prays with a woman with VVF at general screening
Please be praying for Maggie and I and the entire team who will be screening tomorrow. We'll start at about 6 in the morning and work well into the evening. Pray that the women would be truthful with us; sometimes they are so desperate for help that they tell us what they think we want to hear rather than the truth. And sometimes they genuinely don't know the truth; we often hear "I fell asleep and when I woke up the baby was gone." Did they pass out from exhaustion? Did they have anesthesia for a cesarean section? It's hard to say. Many don't even know their age, because it's hard to mark the passage of time in a land with no seasons, only perpetual summer.

Pray for wisdom as the surgeon decides who he wants to operate on, and pray for compassionate words as we have to tell many women that we cannot help them. May each woman see in our love a reflection of God's immense love and compassion for them.