Doesn’t look much like your idea of what a mission hospital looks like, does it? This is a picture of the newly constructed Arusha Lutheran Medical Center in the city of Arusha which is situated in northern Tanzania. We spent three days inspecting this hospital and its more modest sister Selian hospital which hope together to become a PAACS training site.
Tanzania consistently ranks in the lowest ten economies in the world. The population is 40% - 50% Christian (with Catholics the largest block and Lutherans the second largest block), Moslims 40% and 10 – 15% with traditional belief systems. It presently has a population of about 41 million but has only 210 hospitals and 150 surgeons. Approximately 100 – 120 are general surgeons. There are only four neurosurgeons, all in Dar Es Salaam and only four pediatric surgeons (two are actively practicing, one is in politics and one is retired). There are multiple tribal groups (the estimates vary from 100 to over 200) but the Maasai are the largest group (approximately 35%). However, tribalism is probably at the lowest level in Tanzania of all the African countries, partly due to the deliberate choice of their post-colonial socialistic government’s choice to use Swahili as the national language (being a trade language, it belonged to none of and at the same time, all of the tribes) and the deliberate decision to post all government officials in areas which did not belong to their tribe. Tribal favoritism, if evidenced, has become grounds for dismissal in most of the country.
Churches provide 40 – 60% of the healthcare in the country. The 20 Lutheran dioceses represent over 5 million Lutherans and provide 10 – 15% of the country’s total burden of health care presently being provided. The Lutherans prefer to provide what they consider holistic care, emphasizing the three-legged stool of education, health and spiritual teaching. The ALMC is their leading effort of 20 dispensaries and hospitals.
I was accompanied by Carl Haisch (PAACS Commissioner), Dr. and Mrs. Jim Brown (missionaries to Cameroon) and Dr. and Mrs. Mike Matlak (pediatric surgeon at BethanyKids at Kijabe hospital). We did take some time to enjoy the Arusha National Park on Sunday afternoon.
Over 36 hours, I undertook a grueling trip from Arusha to Soddo, Ethiopia. There was a seven hour road trip to Nairobi (puncutated by a flat tire), a 3:30 AM flight to Addis Ababa and then a six hour road trip to Soddo in the south of Ethiopia. It was great to see Paul, Becca, Nathan & Lydia Gray (Paul is the program director here) and to resume friendships generated on previous visits here. Since I have been on the go every day since leaving the US January 7, I awarded myself a “day off” the next day but actually spent 10 hours on the keyboard catching up on most of the things I needed to get done yet had been ignoring for the past four weeks. I did enjoy a short nap, however, and to get all that work done took a great load of pressure from my mind. I am almost caught up with hopes to completely get done this weekend.
It was fun to get back in the operating room with the residents on Thursday and Friday and to be involved with their teaching conferences on Friday. I used the opportunity to do a dry run on an assessment tool designed to determine whether the surgical residents are technically adequate. There were sure some very nervous residents! The picture above is of Paul (L) and his four residents on rounds.
Plans for Next Week:
On Wednesday and Thursday, Paul Gray and I will inspect the Myungsung Christian Hospital in Addis Ababa as another possible training site. I have visited there before but it just didn’t seem to work out and the lack of a suitable surgeon as a Program Director has been the major limitation. The administration has changed and they wish to once again explore the possibilities. The politics of PAACS, their hospital and the medical educational system in the country make it rather complex. We would love to have this location as part of our training program if the Lord would make the way clear.
On Thursday, Micky and Sean leave the US and I leave Ethiopia with plans to rejoin in the wee hours of Saturday morning in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They are heading west through Atlanta & Seoul and I will be heading east through Dubai and Bangkok. The CMDA-CMDE meeting starts the following Monday. We are sure eager to be back together again!
Praise and Prayers:
- Pray for the Stephanie Hail’s final appeal for a medical license here in Ethiopia. She is an OB-GYN under the World Medical Mission program and is serving here at Soddo. Since she is just out of residency, they want her to work in the government system for a year to make sure she is safe. She prefers to work here under Dr. Mark Karnes, her colleague. She is badly needed here.
- Praise to God for the safe traveling thus far and prayer for continued safety for Micky, Sean and me as we travel to Thailand.
- Pray for wisdom during the upcoming visit to the Korean Presbyterian Myungsung Hospital in Addis.
- Please begin to pray to bathe the CMDA-CMDE conference in Thailand in prayer. Pray for safe travel for the missionaries, for rest, for rejuvenation, for refreshment of their soul and for comprehension of all the medical material. Pray that the Holy Spirit will cover all that is done.
Elisabeth Elliot Gren, once married to the martyred Jim Elliot as a missionary in Ecuador, poses this vital question, “Does our faith depend on having every prayer answered as we think it should be answered, or does it rest rather on the character of a sovereign Lord?” Who is in charge? Can we trust Him?
Praying for the faith to rest in His goodness,
Bruce for Micky and Sean