the last few months have been a whirlwind....in a nutshell (or bullet point list/attempt to be concise) i have:
- road-tripped with the howards to chobe national park (awesome game park)....supposed to go to victoria falls as well but like a genius left my passport at home
- gone to benghazi, libya for the BIPAI annual network meeting
- spent a week in egypt (cairo + 3 day nile river cruise to aswar/luxor)
- ridden a camel around the pyramids
- hiked table mountain (cape town)
- driven all over namibia in a giant 4x4 truck
- gone SKYDIVING (this was huge, totally afraid of heights)
- 4-wheeled in the namib desert up and down sand dunes
- kayaked in the atlantic with dolphins and lots and lots of seals
- rappelled down a waterfall (or right next to one) which happens to be the world's tallest rappel (again, scary)
- gone on a donkey pub crawl in a small mountain town in lesotho
- hiked mt kilimanjaro
- all in all traveled to 6 countries outside botswana (libya, egypt, south africa, namibia, lesotho, tanzania)
wow. i can hardly believe i got to do all that - when i list it out it makes me realize even more what amazing opportunities i've had over the last few months. i may have no money or vacation time left, but both were well spent and i'm so thankful to be able to see/experience so much while i'm here. and i promise i've been working too!
speaking of work, exciting news....i just finished my last week of wards!!! we're transitioning our role in the hospital to the new pediatric department at the university of botswana - they just started a residency and recruited new doctors, making it the perfect time for us to start phasing out. don't think i'll miss wards too much, at least not as it is now. i'm hopeful though - the new staff have started the long and difficult process of overhauling princess marina...we'll see.
so i mentioned sharing some patient stories....kinda dropped the ball on that! there are so many though, the children here are some of the most precious i've ever met. i'll start with 2 recent patients, each heartbreaking in their own way...
kefilwe - a 7yr old girl i saw in clinic while on outreach in mochudi (smaller town about 1hr from gabs). she was there with her granny - an entity to both fear and admire here in botswana, they can be either your best friend or worst enemy. this granny was the best friend type. she appeared to be in her mid-70's or so, sharp as a tack, and doing an awesome job of taking care of her granddaughter (many children have lost one or both of their parents and are taken care of by relatives). clinically kefilwe is doing very well, taking her meds 100% of the time, can tell you why she's taking medicine, and overall is happy and thriving. it was a joyful visit with lots of storytelling/laughing (in setswana, but didn't need to know the language to catch the feel of it), which was a welcome break from some of the more somber encounters. at the end granny announces that kefilwe likes to pray after she takes her medicines and asks her to pray for us before she leaves. in one of the sweetest voices i've ever heard and less-than-perfect english, kefilwe recited the Lord's prayer. it struck me in a way that's difficult to explain - full of innocence and hope, a beautiful accent and made up words, it was perfect. a pure reflection of our Father, the kind of moment that pierces your heart.
there have been many heartbreaking moments here in botswana - some break your heart with joy such as kefilwe, others not....heart wrenchings that you can't possibly prepare for. my last week on wards had one of those moments....a child on my team with a pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs) from extensive tuberculosis. her name was jan. she was 10yrs old, also HIV+ on medicine, doing well until this admission. she came in very ill and i knew from the beginning her prognosis was poor. knew from the beginning that there would be no one to perform the procedure that might have found the source of the bleed and stopped it. but it's no easier to accept now than it was at the beginning. between leigh and i we called/consulted everyone we could think of, but the answer was as expected, no one could help. i spent some time in her room, wracking my brain for alternatives, trying to comfort her and myself, and i will never forget her eyes when she opened them briefly to look at me....she knew too. all we could do was try to make her comfortable, she died later that night.
as i said, precious....precious faces, voices, laughs - thankfully these are the majority and fill most days. precious souls gone home early - these often fill our memories, but we must remember they are even more precious in His sight.
"yet this i call to mind and therefore i have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness." - lamentations 3:21-23