What’s it like raising kids on the mission field? Find out from some of our mom bloggers on our new Monday feature, Moms on a Mission. You can look for more stories like the following, starting on Monday, February 6th.
Raising children in a developing nation is risky, albeit adventurous. I knew that before we came, but it isn’t something one tends to think about until something happens that gives you a startling reminder. Saturday evening Daniel dropped a bottle of Coke and it shattered. A piece of glass bounced off the floor and cut his leg pretty deeply. We could see his bone. Our first thought was to call a missionary we know who is a nurse, only to discover she was gone to the interior and couldn’t be reached. We had no choice but to take him to a clinic here and hope for the best. Traffic was terrible. Sometimes when we are driving here I am reminded of a Discovery Toys Rush Hour game my kids used to have with a bunch of cars and trucks, all facing different directions and practically touching one another, unable to move. Add loud honking, dozens of pedestrians weaving in and out the best they can, shouting, and exhaust fumes and that’s what it looked like Saturday evening.
Daniel had been bleeding a lot and I had him in the back seat with his leg propped up while I held the wound shut; and while we were stuck, his leg just spontaneously stopped bleeding and didn’t bleed again until he was safe in the clinic being examined. Finally a hole just big enough to turn our jeep around opened up and we retraced our steps and went “the back way” to the clinic. There was a nurse outside the clinic who took one look at David carrying Daniel with his bloody feet and took charge, opening doors and escorting us past triage and reception, straight to the exam room. By the time I walked up to the reception desk to let them know Daniel was there and give them our names and address, he had been seen by the doctor, had his wound cleaned, and was waiting for stitches. While they were very careful to use sterile instruments and keep the wound clean, there were definite points of observation that reminded us we weren’t in the U.S.
- The language barrier––they kept asking us questions in Lingala, then switching to French, and in our stress we had some difficulty thinking in French.
- The insects on the walls.
- The stack of grotesquely filthy leg and arm braces in the corner, presumably waiting to be reused.
- No bright red bio-hazard box––the needles they used to give Lidocaine to Daniel were new and sterile, but once used they just went into the garbage bag with all the other bloody gauze and trash.
- The mercurochrome––they used lots of it on all of Daniel’s smaller cuts, even on his old bug bites. He has big pink spots all over his legs, front and back. They were so generous with it I started to wonder if we were getting charged by the ounce. Though I remember mercurachrome from my childhood, I’m pretty sure it is not used in the U.S. anymore because it actually contains mercury. Nice.
- I had 8 stitches in each incision when I had my foot surgery. Daniel’s wound was about the same width, possibly wider, and he got four. We got some steri-strips from a friend to “close the gaps.”
- No follow-up instructions regarding things like when he can bathe, how long to leave the stitches in, etc. We know we have to keep it clean and dry. We have plenty of missionary friends here who are in the medical field so we’ll have to rely on them for help and guidance.
While God was showing Himself to us––getting us through traffic, getting rapid treatment for Daniel, keeping him from losing too much blood, keeping him amazingly calm––He also showed Himself to Emily that night. As we were leaving the house for the clinic, I asked Emily to get on the internet and tell our friends to pray because Daniel was bleeding a lot and I knew traffic would be bad and I didn’t know what type of care we would get at the clinic. As soon as they heard, a couple on our team, the Freys, dropped everything and came to be with Emily. Instead of finding an anxious daughter when we arrived home, we found Emily, Jocelyn, and Nick watching a movie together. The glass, soda and blood were all cleaned up. They had brought their supper with them and fed Emily and even had a cupcake waiting for Daniel. I am so grateful that in this challenging place God has given us friends whose value can’t be measured. We had other friends who were praying for us, helping us with medical advice, giving us antibiotics from their own supplies because the pharmacies were closed, even offering to come get us and take us to the clinic.
As we were preparing to leave the clinic, Daniel said, “Well, now I can mark that off my bucket list.” We asked him if he seriously had getting hurt and receiving medical treatment in a third world clinic on his bucket list and he said, “Yes, I did.” What kind of ten-year-old has a bucket list? And what kind of ten-year-old has THAT on his list? When I asked Daniel’s big brother those questions his reply was “a cool one!” I tend to agree with both Josh and with another friend who said we need to talk to Daniel about working on a safer bucket list.