Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fall 2012 Manipur Clinic Week

Because it's been sitting in my "drafts" box for FOREVER.... I'll finish my travel tales.

Churachandpur:  A place that I could observe for months and barely have scratched the surface of being able to describe it as an entity (as with any foreign complexity). And no, I suppose you wouldn't be interested about that entity unless you, yourself, were walking down its dirt streets pondering all the history and reality that had happened there in only a couple generations' time before it became a reality to you.

Outside of the hospital complex for patients to line up.
Head hunters to civil wars to peaceful streets. Native American-esque? Asian? Indian? Jewish? The economy? Family dynamic? Culture? Languages? Good grief, it drove me crazy to not be able to learn for as long as I wanted to. 
Optometry waiting for a doctor

The hospital:
In the apparent lack of medicinal luxuries the stage was set to watch medical professionals systematically compute their unique station's resources and come alive as medical MacGyvers in their craft. This wasn't a situation that I'd feel pity for them, this was a situation I watched someone who was born for this kind of scenario come alive. I was so impressed. It was all I could do to simply offer myself as a MacGyver totee.  
 Every inch and space of the hospital was utilized to try and get as many people in as possible. Patients came and lined up before the sunrise and were moved and ushered through an ever changing flawed system with a look of confusion that could have matched mine. Every hour of those first couple days our system changed, effecting every station from triage to surgery each time. Yet, there were no complaints. No passive aggressive remarks. I never knew I could love a group of people so quickly than when I saw their humor, patience, and joy never run out. It was an accidental learning of the lesson that the more you give the more you receive, and it made all the difference in the world.

Electricity was run off of generators that often went out mid procedure/surgery (thank goodness for headlamps and flashlights). There are no lights in the small bathroom stalls so good luck aiming for the squatty-potty in the dark. Good luck finding any soap or hand sanitizer after you failed at the previous as well. Give up on escaping the smell of burning trash. And when feeling lost, take comfort in the fact that the patients are in the same boat as you. Maybe grow worried over this fact as well. Eat any chance you get even though this may mean you needing a bathroom shortly after. You will be laughed at. You will laugh at yourself. You'll be so happy you did.

The week's clinic we brought with us offered free cataract surgery, dental, medical, pediatric, OB, eye glasses, and optometry in hopes of attracting people to the prayer tent to receive healing, encouragement, and most importantly, Christ. 

Optometry team
I had the privilege of working in the optometrist station, basically trying to aid a system of function and care for the locals and volunteers that were putting in tireless hours of rapid adjustment to both chaos and efficiency. And ever the patients were accommodating in waiting for hours and being directed to wherever we ushered them, with most of the time, no explanation due to our lack of a translator or time in general. 
Optometry triage

Hours were filled with minutes of little favors for those I still barely knew the names of (which proved difficult when you needed to call them from across the room). But their faces, growing in familiarity, began to showcase their desire to do more than they already were. That look moved me to make up my mind to go to medical school, become a doctor, and not have to see that look without knowing I did everything I possibly could to alleviate it. Somehow you imagine you could actually do something about it, when in truth, the most desperate of pitifully attempted performances from us makes for such a heavy dependence on God.

However, the ethos questions still made a permanent residency in my culture shocked mind like a storm cloud, blocking my view of clear blue logical sky in the midst of my currently committed miniscule mistakes. Thank God for the rays of encouraging sun of His Truth, breaking through with blessings and beauty in a way I could never understand through imagination alone. That Truth was learned from the people that surrounded me who never paid any heed to their circumstances. It was a genius move to give up processing the reality of anything as there was only time to digest every case, conversation, meeting, mistake and smile as it came. Nothing more. Nothing less.

There is so much I regret, so much I'm proud of, so much I'm thankful for, and so much I wish I had more time to accomplish or correct in myself. Most of the time I was filtering and processing through guilt. Guilt for not being a doctor, for not speaking the language, for not staying long enough. In the end it was the nurses, doctors and volunteers that I worked with that I grew the most attached to. Their selflessness and tireless availability to the clinic taught me such a natural reactionary emotion; to be the most happy if I could do them any favor. So this is what fulfillment in servanthood felt like. Not what I already knew it was, but what I didn't know it felt like. After that first day I knew, I already knew, that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 

It was hard not to hide when confused. It was complete anxiety forcing myself to relax and enjoy everyone around me to spite the over stimulation that was bombarding my introverted highly sensitive self.
I really grew to love the people the more I understood them though. They seemed extremely reserved and cautious (so unlike Delhi) and remained polite. In our guest room at the college was a motto to encourage the students to live to serve. This was probably the most backwards concept to my western culture and every morning and night it remained the most prevalent for me. If someone wanted to serve you, don't refuse them (which was just as much of a challenge to receive as to offer). They did our laundry even though we were there for only 5 days. Carried our suitcases, fed us, boiled water for our bucket showers, and at the end of the week, a cultural evening show with gifts for every single traveler. 

I wanted to go all over the world doing just this, just to meet more people that humbled and pushed me in becoming a servant for how humble a servant they were. I knew I'd need to keep this potent lesson for going home as well. The adjective of "easy" is so common when learning spiritual truths abroad, but is no excuse when it needs to be applied at home as well. If anyone needed this lesson it was me at home when my world was screaming ease and selfishness at me. But oh, how I wish I could refresh that calling more frequently on foreign shores than I'm able to do now. 

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