Sometimes knowing we are pieces of The Luke Commission puzzle reminds us to be thankful and to pray harder. These pieces from the front lines will touch our hearts.
"It is a joy doing these types of bush clinics. God has given us a new song," said Dr. Harry VanderWal. "But it did not happen overnight. It took Echo and me 20 years to get to Swaziland. We're thrilled."
Echo said: "I'd like to encourage other young people studying medicine or any health care profession to push through the years of pain. Those long years of schooling can feel non-productive. But it's a necessary process, even in the instantaneous society in which we live."
"We are just conduits," continued Echo. "God can use any way He wants to reveal Himself to the Swazi people. We're along for the bumpy ride; contentment and joy are ours amid the problems and chaos."
Are the VanderWals getting tired taking clinics to the back country of Swaziland, often treating more than 500 patients a day? "I see God work in the most unusual ways and don't want to miss a thing," said Echo. "I can rest when I get to heaven."
Harry, in turn, told the translators at one clinic: "Go see if anybody else needs help. We've only treated 493 today."
Another day the translators had to carry the heavy pharmacy carts straight up a hill to get to a chief's kraal, where the people were waiting. "They just did it," said Echo, "No one complained; we're all becoming used to impossible situations."
That evening, after The Passion was shown on a large screen outside, 76 Swazis, mostly males in their teens and twenties, accepted Jesus as their Savior. "It's the night for repentant young men," noticed translator Phumzile.
One mother started crying when her 10-year-old son received eyeglasses. "He's been failing in school, but we could not buy glasses."
Hundreds of students at one large school out in the bush had worms in their intestines and fungal infections on their heads. Echo diagnosed and wrote prescriptions for the children, while Harry treated the adults. That was the day an elderly lady said, "You must really love us because you're trying to find shade for us." It was 100 degrees and not a breeze was stirring.
Breast infections are common among women. Echo saw the "worst infection" recently. The 54-year-old lady whose chest was oozing. The rags covering her entire front were dirty and stuck to her skin. Echo soaked off the rags and cleaned the wound. Then she gave her antibiotics and cream for two months. She needs special treatment once a month, Echo noted, and encouraged the lady to meet her at the hospital. "Whether she follows through we will see."
Another 9-year-old boy had endured a fungal infection on both feet for a year. His 20-year-old mother (yes, she was 11 when he was born) brought him to the clinic. An orphan herself, the young mom cares for her bed-ridden grandmother and did not have money for medicines. She wept when her son received treatment and free medications.
One technician at the Manzini hospital said, "The people from the United States are the most generous people in the world."
A pair of 12-year-old twin boys Harry treated had heads smaller than 3-year-old Zion.
The HIV-AIDS babies written about in a previous update are much improved. Echo said, "Their moms are all smiles when I see them at the hospital."
One patient told Echo that he was HIV positive. His wife is still negative. "I tried using condoms but don't like them," he said. "I'm thinking of telling my wife to leave me."
Echo replied, "I'm sorry there are no easy answers to these questions."
No easy answers, to be sure, but a God who knows the beginning from the end and seeks His own. Please continue to pray for the relief of physical suffering and an awakening to the truth in the tiny AIDS-ravished country of Swaziland.
Love in Jesus,
Janet Tuinstra for Harry and Echo, Jake, Luke, Zeb, Zion, Grace