I’ve been meaning to write to update you all about my experience in Nigeria. I have been in-country for about two and a half weeks, and feel I have experienced much in this short time! This past week has been primarily the transition from cultural orientation at the SIM Nigeria office into shadowing/volunteering at Bingham University Teaching Hospital. I have had the opportunity to observe surgery several days in the VVF center, which has been fascinating. VVF is an abbreviation for vesicovaginal fistula, a condition that occurs frequently here. Women who experience prolonged periods of labor (over several days) are at risk of developing the condition, which produces incontinence. The VVF center works with these women to determine the exact cause of their incontinence and provides surgical repair of fistulas and other procedures repairing other gynecological/urological issues caused by prolonged labor.
I have also had the opportunity to shadow several other procedures. One day, I shadowed a pediatric surgeon who was performing umbilical hernia repairs on children between three-five years old. On another day, I shadowed several surgeons who were performing Cesarean sections. That day was incredibly fun because I got to go back to the maternity ward after the surgery and see one of the newborns!
One of the things that has struck me in my time shadowing in the hospital so far is the ingenuity of those working there to provide care. There is significantly less access to many of the commodities and materials that are considered essentials of Western medical care, yet the staff works incredibly hard to provide quality care for their patients. While some things I have observed have been altogether different to the standards of care I have been accustomed to back home, I nonetheless have great respect for the staff of Bingham University Teaching Hospital.
Outside of shadowing at the hospital, I have also had several opportunities to spend time with some of the other short-termers serving in Nigeria and to explore more of the city of Jos and the surrounding areas. I have enjoyed weekly game nights at one of the missionary’s homes with all of the short-termers. I have learned several fun card games, which I can’t wait to bring back home with me to the States! I have also had the opportunity to visit the Jos Zoo as well as the Jos artists’ district. The artists’ district is absolutely incredible, offering everything from paintings to wood carvings to wax-dyed fabrics. Meeting many of the artists was such a wonderful experience, as they were all incredibly friendly and had absolutely stunning work.
I also had the opportunity to take a day trip to Yankari, a nature preserve that is about three hours’ drive from Jos. I went with a group of short-termers, and we had the opportunity to go on a safari and swim in the warm springs. The safari was fun, as we saw a variety of local animals. Perhaps most interesting of the animals we encountered were the baboons. I was warned that they are aggressive, but they were truly something else! The warm springs were the highlight of the trip. They are absolutely gorgeous, and the water temperature is consistently in the seventies. I love swimming, and it was such a nice chance to spend time relaxing with friends. The day ended with a drive home in the pouring rain. I, like many others, had heard the lyrics to Togo’s “Africa,” but I fully began to understand the concept of rains down in Africa during that storm! It absolutely poured, to the extent to which we could see fields flooding as we drove past.
While I am still trying to find my place here for the summer, I am enjoying the things I have had the privilege of experiencing so far. I am looking forward to continuing to learn about medical missions in Nigeria. I am also thankful to report that I am finally feeling better after about a week and a half of gastrointestinal distress. I think my body is finally beginning to adjust fully to living here, which is a welcome change.
I am so very thankful for the support of all my friends and family, it truly means the world to me. There are a few areas in which I would greatly appreciate prayer support. First, I am wrestling with feelings of loneliness as it has been difficult to build relationships due to my living situation. Second, I am working to tweak my ministry schedule so that I can be more directly involved in serving the community. Just be praying that I would be wise in trying to plan my schedule, and that the right service opportunities would present themselves. As always, I don’t want prayer support to be a one-way street! If there is anything I can be praying for you about, or supporting you with, please reach out via Facebook messenger or email (specifically, my Liberty address).
May God bless you abundantly, my friends!