“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I have read these words written by Matthew many, many times. We are given these words to draw closer to our Lord, and fulfill His great commission. Today we had the incredible pleasure to run the first clinic out of the Nzema Baptist Hospital. This was something we were all looking forward to, and we were chatting excitedly as we set up to see our patients. We had clean areas to work in, a lab in which to run tests, running water, flush toilets, and for some of us- air conditioning! We were ready to love on God’s people in the Nzema region!
I went back to school at the ripe young age of 44. I had never even stepped into a college before, but as I signed up for classes I imagined how I would be able to use my future career as a nurse to love and serve people in my city and around the world. Many circumstances held me back from coming to Ghana until this year, but to say I was excited to come would be an incredible understatement. Living and working amid some of the best medical care in the world, I love working with the poorest population of our community and believed I was prepared for what I would see in West Africa. I was wrong.
The medical conditions that we have seen each day are common place here, but are unheard of in the United States. Many parents have brought their children whose legs are bowed with rickets. Malaria is a common diagnosis. Our doctors are prescribing antibiotics for wounds riddled with infection that, if in America, would have been prevented with a quick trip to CVS for Bacitracin and Band-aids. The most difficult case I saw was today, when a 44 year old lady with six children sat down to see us.
Coffi lives three hours away in the Ivory Coast. She heard about our clinic, so her mother drove her see us. She hoped we would be able to help her. She has breast cancer at such an advanced stage that two of the masses have broken through the skin causing large, open ulcers. It is unlikely that I will ever see anything like this in the United States. A few of us, though an interpreter, spent time talking with Coffi. She knows who Jesus is, but does she know where she will go when she dies? Like many here, she talks of doing enough good to earn her salvation. We explain that this is gift given by Christ’s death and resurrection. We only need to accept it. Yes, she has accepted Christ as her Savior! We rejoice and pray with her.
The breast is filled with cancer, as are her lymph nodes and her liver. During my career, I have worked with many patients who are dying. Today was the first day I had to tell someone they were that patient. Many of us prayed over her. Then, through an interpreter, I told Coffi she should spend her time with family and friends. I was fighting back tears as Coffi left my room. I then went outside and sobbed. Hard.
I heard footsteps approaching and then felt a hand on my shoulder. Sure that it was one of my team, I looked up. It was Coffi. I quickly wiped my face, not wanting her to know how upset I was and that I was grieving for her. I gave her a long, tight hug, and I kissed her cheek. Coffi then put one hand on my shoulder. With her other hand she pointed to herself…. and t
hen to our Father God in Heaven. She managed a smile and touched my cheek.
Coffi is going to Heaven.