They call me “The Doctor.” Every time I’m introduced to someone here in India, they make it a point to emphasize the fact that I’m a medical doctor from the United States. It makes me feel quite uncomfortable since I don’t like having that extra attention and pressure. Originally, when I was preparing for the trip I was told that I would only be seeing 60 adults, right before I left the number turned into 60 families and all 750 children at the school. Thus, you can imagine how I must have felt the night before the big day-nervous and apprehensive not knowing what to expect and feeling completely overwhelmed and under-prepared.
The rest of the members of the team received a crash course in pharmacology,taking vitals and abbreviated medical histories the night before and set up shop in the adjoining room to help screen patients for me to ease my work load. It was a huge help and blessing and enabled me to be able to see 53 patients in 4 hours, which definitely goes down in the record books. It was a grueling 4 hours in 85 degree heat and 95% humidity wearing scrubs and my white coat (needed some street cred with the locals as I’m a female and young looking) with the fan and power periodically going in and out. Yet God was faithful and didn’t give us more than we could handle. Interestingly enough the medical problems I saw here were pretty much the same as in the US-diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heartburn, headaches and general aches and pains with the occasional bilateral perforated ear drums and unstable angina. Through it all God reminded me that the pressure I feel is not on me but Him as He is the ultimate healer and physician. All he requires of me is to show up and love His people and He will pour out His blessing. Healing often does not revolve around the treatment of physical ailments but involves the outpouring of love.
In the afternoon, Amanda and Christine decided to ride the bus with the children to see what their homes and villages looked like and took the bus that went to the most rural location. Crammed in with close to 100 children and teachers they endured the bumpy, winding ride to the village which was home to a rubber plantation and a few coconut leaf-roofed houses. In addition, they experienced the hospitality of the teachers and students who not only acted as tour guides but invited them to their houses for tea and bought them snacks from a local store. Meanwhile, Dave toured the main road in town, drew a lot of stares wherever he went, witnessed a large fireworks show and got to ride in a cycle rickshaw.
This evening the Bishop shared some stories of Dalit oppression which just broke my heart. In one story, a higher caste man was plowing a field but since he only owned one ox, a Dalit man was hooked to the other side and treated as if he were just another animal. Not only are Dalits treated as animals but they are often used as slave labor to plant rice for the upper caste Indians and in one instance a pregnant woman refused to plant rice and was beaten to death and buried in a nearby field. In addition, once when it was time to plant rice, the Dalit workers placed a baby in a nearby forest and covered it with banana leaves. The baby started crying but the owner of the field would not let the Dalit mother take a break to feed her newborn. Later on that evening when the Dalits went back to the spot they had laid the baby, they could no longer find her and after much searching finally found her bones and discovered that an army of ants had come and eaten her. The progress and change that we have seen here at the BFM is only a result of the transformative power of the Gospel and we must not forget that the level of oppression demonstrated in the above stories is still running rampant today. It is a shame and a tragedy that most people in the World continue to remain ignorant and apathetic.
On a happier note, Elton received an email that the camera he left on the airplane from San Francisco to Singapore was recovered when the plane landed in Zurich and will be waiting for us in the Lost and Found in the Singapore Airport. Praise God!