After completion of graduate school, I became interested in international field work. I began to search loan repayment options and found Project Medsend online. I scanned through their list of "field work associates." Based on the beliefs, location and the type of work available, I chose MCWA. I traveled to Chad alone in January of 2008 and was greeted at the airport in N'Djamena by the smiling faces of my team leader, Scott and the lovely Dr. Jacqueline . They drove me the remaining distance to Meskine where I remained for 2.5 years as the hospital's first physician’s assistant.
The experience was a mix of being what I had imagined, yet so different from anything I had anticipated. I was fortunate enough to talk with some members of the team before leaving, so in the practical aspects of day to day life I felt very well prepared. However, it is impossible to know exactly what to expect. God solely guided me through culture shock, the work at the hospital and the joys and frustrations of language learning. He was my strength for the unknown.
It was one of the most precious times of my life. I have never needed God as much as I needed Him in Meskine.
Work in the hospital was enjoyable, but frustrating. Expectations of how things should be instead of acceptance of how they actually were kept tripping me up. My time at the hospital exposed my own pride. It was a time of learning to accept God's grace for myself and accept correction from others. I had to learn how to respect my Cameroonian leadership, even when I didn't understand them culturally. Finally, it drove home the absolute necessity of love. One morning, a patient asked, "Do you love me?" I was shocked - I didn't really, but what was I going to say? "Yes," I replied, to which she stated, "Yapendo (Dr. Jacqueline) - she loves me." I was convicted down to my toes. No amount of medication in an effort to relieve her pain would be as effective as love. She saw this love in someone else - not in me. This was a significant challange, one that I will never forget.
Regardless of these challanges, or perhaps because of them, my stay in Cameroon was a success. It was one of the most precious times of my life. I have never needed God as much as I needed Him in Meskine. I have never cried out to Him the way I did in my little room at night, asking Him to heal the patients, asking Him to heal me. It was in Meskine that He taught me about grace and blessed me with the unconditional love of my team. His was a powerful display of supernatural presence, provision, and faithfulness that I may have missed out on had I not gone so far from home. I would strongly counsel anyone with international field work on their heart to go for it! In the extreme joy and difficulty that are sure to be yours, you will find God - and it will be worth it.