May 02, 2008

Latest from Jessica Shaeffer

Dear Friends,

Whenever I am in town, whether buying fruits and vegetables, looking for fabric for a new dress, or making photocopies, I hear the same thing. "You work at the Hospital for Women and Children, right? You really do a good job there. We want you to treat men too, the whole family!" J One person emphasized how our hospital takes patients seriously and cares about them. In other clinics or hospitals, he explained, patients aren't "taken into account", and doctors and nurses often take some of the patients' medicines for themselves. The honesty and kindness shown at our hospital are making a difference, and we have seen patients come from countless cities and villages (including the capital city 5 hours away) for medical help.

Although I hear regular positive feedback, there is some opposition in town too. A few weeks ago, in a mosque near the hospital, the imam (Muslim teacher) spoke before the Friday prayers telling the people to stop taking their women to our hospital because we would force them to become Christians. Those present openly disagreed with the imam, telling him that they have found that we give good and loving care at the hospital. After expressing their disagreement, they left. Many seeds are being planted through our ministry at the hospital. Pray that these seeds will grow and bear fruit.

Today I went to visit Adam, the young woman who was so ill with typhoid and perforated bowel in January and February. She had 3 surgeries during her hospital stay, but has been home for nearly 2 months now. She told me to thank everyone who prayed for her during her illness. She said that she and her husband are seriously considering following the "Jesus way".

In February I completed my last language test, and hope to finish my final language requirements in the next few months. I come home from my 10-12 hour shifts at the hospital pretty exhausted after speaking 2 foreign languages all day, especially with current daily temperatures of 100-110 degrees. In the next few months I will be taking on the role of supervisor of hospitalized nursing care. This will include training and teaching new nurses and nurses aids, writing protocols to improve organization and consistency of nursing care, problem solving, etc!

We've had some difficult cases this past month, and it has been discouraging to lose 3 women. One pregnant woman was brought in from the village because she was in a coma. We treated her for 10 days, but she showed little improvement. Early last week it became clear that she had only hours left, and the baby was in distress. The family agreed for us to do a c-section, which Dr. Dan did at the bedside. The baby was 8 weeks premature, but is growing and doing well. Another young woman, age 18, came in a week after delivering a stillborn from a village 65 kilometers away. She looked like she was still pregnant as her abdomen was ballooned up. She was quickly taken to the OR, where 1 to 2 liters of pus was removed from her abdomen, and a hysterectomy was done. She had retained placenta that had eaten through her uterus, the upper half of which was dead. I spent the following 8 hours at her bedside until she died that evening. We did everything possible we could for her medically that day, and several staff members and our chaplain spent many hours praying at her bedside. The response of the family was very typical. They received the news with stone faces saying "It was Allah's will". I know many of you also read about this young woman in Dr. Dan Nesselroade's last update…if you haven't and you want to hear more, I can forward it to you. The third woman came in with eclampsia, having seizures and blood pressure through the roof (200/120). She died on the operating table, and a few days later her premature baby also died.

Fatigue and discouragement have almost overtaken me a few times this month, but I have been frequently reminded of God's faithfulness: He never fails. He is with me. He is at work here. As I mentioned earlier, people here tell me that the name of the hospital is spreading around Mali. May Jesus' name also be spread throughout Mali. Thank you for the ways you partner with the ministry here through your prayers, your gifts, and your encouragement.

Living the Call Together,

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