Have you ever met someone who was such a tool it’s not even funny? I got to meet 2 huge tools on this trip to Uganda. But these guys were tools for God. They have completely blessed my life and changed me in ways I’m not sure they even know about. The first was Steve. Steve connected us with our twin family. I saw him for the first time in an airport in New York. He came up to our family and said “I didn’t expect to see you guys here!” I privately thought, “I never expected to see you ever, crazy stranger.” But then he quickly introduced himself, and I got to take a good look at the man that introduced us to our twin family, support group, and mission team. The second man was Dr. Andrew. If you’ve read my earlier post or know me well, you know that I had an irrational fear of needles to the point of my knees going weak by being in the same room as one. But what I don’t think any of you know is that I’ve wanted to be an ICU nurse since I was 12. Joshua ended up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after an ear surgery where his brain sac got nicked. I walked into the room to visit him, and was so impressed and in awe of the nurses working there. I thought, “This is what I want to do.” But I quickly put it out of my mind because of my crippling fear of the tools I would have to use to make that dream happen. 4 years later, I had my first day of clinic work. Jake and I started in the lab with Dr. Andrew. Since Jake knew how to check for malaria under a microscope and I didn’t, Dr. Andrew decided to teach me how to draw blood. That day, Dr. Andrew opened a door for me that I had thought I had sufficiently padlocked shut. That was about 3 months ago. Since then, I have found I have a passion for medical work, especially in the pharmacy where I get to learn about all the different medicines and their doses. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to go to medical school or go to nursing school to follow my 12 year old dream, but I do know that the medical mission field is where I belong. God has given me so much on this trip, and I want to give back to Him through service in something that I absolutely love.
A couple days ago, Jake and I had a bit of a flashback. We were back in the lab, with Dr. Andrew. Except a few things were different. For one thing, Jake and I had lost about 50 pounds between us (and that’s not an exaggeration). Second, our amazing teacher got to watch us use the skills he had taught us 3 months ago. And we needed them. We were taking finger pricks to test for HIV. Not too bad right? It’s at least easier than a syringe. Except our patients were all 3 and under. Some Ugandan children were so still and silent during the entire procedure that I was actually a little bit concerned. Others acted more like American children. Meaning they acted like I was trying to remove their fingers with a cigar cutter. For the squirmy children, I would sit them down in my lap and use one arm to pin them still, and the other hand to hold the finger and pump the blood while Jake pricked them and tried to drip a few drops of blood onto the test strip. After getting peed on 3 times and having heard screams that would curdle powdered milk, we were finally finished. We had one positive. But Dr. Andrew re-reminded us that we can’t look at this as a terrible thing. We have to have the hearts of doctors. We have to look at it not as a little girl having a terrible disease, but as a little girl finally finding out what’s wrong with her. We have to see it as us giving her not bad news, but hope, since it was caught so early.
It’s hard though. You give someone a life sentence, and there’s nothing you can do. What has really helped me is the Serenity Prayer my grandmother taught me when I was a little girl and stressed about life. The first line is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” There are some things we cannot change. Those are the things we have to give to God, or at the very least, beg that He take from us. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but it’s something we all have to do. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the death I’ve seen both here and at home in America, it’s that we will destroy ourselves wondering what we could have and should have done, when there is absolutely nothing we can do. God is big enough for these problems, but we are not. Please today try to give one thing to God and accept what you cannot change.