Wings in India - Tenth Report Sunday, March 26, 2006
 

By Ann Edenfield Sweet

 
     

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This is the tenth report from India. It was filed by Ann Edenfield Sweet on March 26, 2006.

Email message #10

We've been so busy I haven't had time to write. I'll try to write in the van again today.

I can't begin to share all the stories. We had a medical clinic yesterday, drove up a 26 hair-pin turn road to a village on top of a 5,000 ft. mountain yesterday and did a Wings Training for rural, tribal pastors. Over 125 people packed into a small room on the second floor above the pastor's home. The room was about 16 x 30 and they had decorated the room with colorful streamers in brilliant colors.

We are always welcomed so graciously. They love singing with us, and this training we did the Parable of the Sower with everyone being seeds. We had them fly as birds, grow as thorns, and choke other seeds. It was great fun and they really responded well to our simple training methods. We again taught how to make butterflies and talked about the symbolism of Jesus' resurrection. Since almost everyone inch of the floor was covered with people, we played a game where 4 balloons were thrown into the air and if the balloon touched the ground that balloon was out of the game. With so many people in the room, the balloons were easily kept in the air. it was quite funny when one balloon blew out the door and so it quickly disappeared. We are getting quite creative with game playing, especially in such crowded areas. We also did mixer games where they turned to a partner to share different stories with one another. There is a gorgeous lake on the top of this mountain where we had our picnic lunch, and one of the questions they were to discuss with one another was to share about a special time they had with friends or family at this lake. They enjoyed finding partners and talking with one another.

Rita was standing outside the door to the church. The narrow steps up to the church were often filled with spectators because when the villagers heard our singing and laughter, they wanted to see what was going on. Many of them then joined us and so the room continued to fill up.

The power went off so it became very hot in the room, although the outside temperature was probably in the mid 70's because of the higher elevation. An Englishman built the only road up to the top of this mountaintop over 100 years ago and it is a big tourist area, especially during May and June, when it is very hot in the valley where we are.

There is always a slight haze in the air with all the burning of trash and probably general pollution, but I'm sure from the mountain road on a clear day we would have been able to see for over 100 miles in all directions. Rev. Glory said the children sit in the home here and watch the lights of the cars as they come down the curving mountain road in the evenings. We haven't seen that yet.

Then we drove to a rural hospital where Predita, Rev. Glory's wife, had once been a doctor. She has now moved her practice to a room here at the home, which is certainly more convenient for her.

We were welcomed with the ceremonial garlands that were gorgeous and so fragrant. Benches were filled with over 130 people, some who had been waiting since 10:00 am for our free clinic, and we had arrived at 3:00 pm. Our $200 had been spent to purchase various supplies, including aspirin, antibiotics, vitamins and bottles of various other supplements, lotions for skin disease, antibiotic ointments, and medicines to treat a variety of illnesses. Shelly did many blood pressure tests and also gave some injections. I sat with Rev. Glory's oldest brother Judson, and talked to the people as he checked each patient. Shelly observed how competent the nursing staff and the doctors were, although they did not have the most up-to-date equipment. They absolutely made the most out of everything they had. They were very skilled in their application and care of each person. Everyone shared Christ's love with the way they greeted, touched, listened, and cared so attentively for each person.

I bet I met at least 40 different patients. Several had diabetes and high blood pressure. Many of them had terrible tooth decay and one man had only about 6 teeth left in his mouth, and every tooth in his mouth was broken. He complained of terrible pain, and I'm sure that was the case because he had blood in his mouth and the teeth were basically all rotten.

Another condition that was very common seemed to be allergies and skin rashes. Many prescriptions were written for the skin as many of these people are coolie workers and either work in the fields, bending over in the hot sun all day or the hot, crowded, and polluted textile factories. Many people complained of back aches, headaches, and joint problems. I'm sure they carry heavy loads all day long. It is very common to see women carrying huge jugs of water on their heads, as well as sticks, grain for animals, and other heavy items.

They also had many stomach and dietary problems. It seemed like everyone had insufficient nutrition, and vitamins were prescribed for almost everyone.

Shelly gave many Vitamin B-12 injections, as well as pain and antibiotic injections. She worked side by side with Dr. Predita and when a prescription was written, the patient went to the Indian staff for the prescription to be filled. They had large bulk bottles of medicine so when the patients were given their prescriptions, the handmade pouches were made out of newspaper. Nothing was wasted.

One woman particularly touched me. She was my age and I would have guessed she would have been in her 80's. She was wrinkled, stooped over, gray hair, and she complained of terrible arthritis. She also had swollen gums and had only a few teeth left in her mouth. Her fingers were terribly twisted, her skin was cracked and very tough, and she had broken, cracked finger nails. I couldn't help but think how easy my life is in comparison to her. She seemed so aged and in such pain, and I can't begin to guess how much longer she will live.

Rev. Joseph asked me to touch each patient, look in each person's eyes, and have them open their mouth for me. That way I was showing personal concern for each of them, but it also allowed me to see the actual condition of their mouth and teeth. There were very few teeth that weren't stained and appeared to have some decay. This hospital doesn't have a dentist so pain prescriptions were given to the patients for tooth problems. I kept encouraging the patients to brush their teeth.

We saw patients for over three hours from 3:00 - 6:00 pm. Cathy, Doug and Paul made lemonade for all the patients so they had something to drink. They gave stickers to all the children and adults, took many photos, and tried to comfort the patients as they waited so patiently in the shaded, yet hot area, to see a doctor.

The clinic is only two years old. It also serves as the church on Sundays. There is tremendous potential in this clinic. They had separate wards for patients, with 4-6 beds in each room. Upstairs they had individual rooms for patients. Patients do not generally spend the night at this hospital because Rev. Glory said the beds are so hard that the patients would not be comfortable and would perhaps get bed sores. They also have a classroom upstairs with a blackboard that they want to use for general health education and I'm sure ministry work as well. Downstairs they also have a room for a maternity center, but due to lack of proper equipment, this center has not opened yet.

Rev. Glory has a great vision for this facility and has asked for our prayers for this building to be used in many ways. 21 different people have submitted applications to attend the auxiliary nurse mid-wife course that they hope to offer there. They are waiting for funding, which is approximately $50/month per applicant, and the training lasts for 1 year (11,000 rupees).

They hire Hindus to work at the facility, because by working with them, they can teach and bring them to Christ. Then these new believers can go back to their homes and villages and spread the Word.

They also need an ambulance to not only transport patients, but to conduct mobile clinics at various hamlets.

Today we now leave for worship at the Methodist Church in Salem.

In His love,
Ann

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