(Written by team member, Debbie Wyne)
Part 2, Day 4 Sintaro update, Feb 3, 2015
Our team gathered around 8am for some breakfast. This is the first time some of us have seen one another since Sunday afternoon, so we share our war stories! It is good to be reunited again! I’ve nibbled on crackers and a banana in my room, so I pass on breakfast.
Kindri leads us in a devotion and we focus on the scripture from Ephesians 6, which refers to putting on the full armor of God. Several phrases stick with me throughout the day: “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood”, and “take up the shield of faith”. I also share the gist of what I wrote to you all earlier today, about living in the promises of the Lord and not out of fear. We have a time of prayer together and then we are ready to go!
The first stop is to buy more crackers! The second stop is to go to the pharmacy to buy supplies. Today we are going to begin doing health screenings of the students and we need a few things. We need to stop at several pharmacies to find all that we need, but after a short while we are on our way to Sintaro!
I am finding that I’m already feeling tired, and the day has not yet begun! I have the front seat to myself so I make myself as comfortable as possible on the bumpy, dusty road, and shut my eyes to rest. Other than feeling weak, I am otherwise doing well and I just want to keep it that way!
When we arrive in Sintaro, we go to the school. The kids are expecting us and as soon as they see us approaching they run towards us with excitement. I can barely get out of our van because the kids are crowding around to shake our hands and offer us greetings. They love to practice their English and I hear “Good morning!”, as well as greetings in their own language. It is a holiday break for them but they are still dressed in their uniforms and in school because we are here. They usher us into their classrooms and I’m amazed at how quickly they scamper to their seats. These kids are so well behaved and respectful! Because we are using one of their classrooms for our purposes this week, there are two classes worth of kids in one room. They squeeze in, four kids to a desk, and the room is full! Tashale, our interpreter is in a classroom with Teri, Cynthia and I and he translates to the students how happy we are to see them again. I offer them an opportunity to ask us questions and they are interested to find out if the three of us are mothers, and if so, how many children we have. Teri asks if they will sing a song, and immediately the room erupts with music and clapping! After a bit, I realize they are singing a song in English reciting the days of the week. They seem to enjoy it so much and don’t want to stop.
At home, we have prepared name tags for each of the students. Each tag has their name, sponsor’s name(s), and the number that has been assigned to them. We hand out the name tags and butcher their names as we try to pronounce them. Fortunately, our teachers and interpreters are there to help! I anxiously look for the name tag of the child I am sponsoring, but he must be in a different classroom.
After a bit, we get ourselves organized and head down to the clinic. This is a short hike downhill on a dusty trail and 25 students follow, single-file in line behind us. They are very orderly and quiet. They are clearly on their best behavior. As we arrive at the clinic, they wait outside, ever so patiently, for us to get organized. Today we will be documenting each child’s height and weight, providing an examination by the two doctors we have with us, dispensing a de-worming medication, and praying over each individual child, by name.
I begin filling out each child’s paperwork by recording their names and ID#. I get to interact with each child individually and smile into their eyes. As I’m bending down to write, several of them can’t resist and reach out gently to touch my hair. Once that step is done, they head to the scales. My job is now to record their height and weight, then they are ushered to the next station where Teri takes their pictures and prays for them. It is sweet to watch their faces as they receive prayer.
This is the oldest group of students and it is encouraging to see how much some of them have grown and how healthy they appear to be. They have been receiving assistance the longest and it is clear that the health education, medical support and meals we have helped provide are having an impact!
As I finish up my task, I’m able to interact more freely with the kids while they wait at each of their stations. Some of the students are very outgoing and anxious to talk to me and touch me. Others are not so sure. I try to engage one girl in particular, and she doesn’t respond. After awhile I just sit down next to her. After a few minutes, she reaches over and touches my arm. I turn to her and smile and she knows she’s safe. As the line decreases, she slides down to the next seat. As she does, she leaves an empty space next to her. She looks over, pats the seat and encourages me to slide a little closer. We do all of this without words, but she is learning to trust me. It’ll be interesting to see her reaction to me as the week progresses!
Next thing you know we have seen 50 students and it’s time for lunch! We walk back up the dirt trail towards the school and when I arrive I am exhausted. We’re at about 6,000 feet altitude here, but I know it’s more than that. My body just isn’t functioning at 100% yet. Lunch looks good, but I still don’t have an appetite. I eat some crackers and drink some water in lieu of the lunch that has been prepared for us. Others on our team are nibbling too. At lunch we re–assess and decide that we can see 15 more students before we head back to our hotel. Now that we have a rhythm down, it doesn’t take long. These students are younger and, if the swarming flies are any indication, they are not as healthy. There are a number of students that will need follow up care.
Now we are waiting for our van. They have driven to the next town so that Worede can meet with an official. He is diligently working towards getting our well dug! We wait for awhile on the clinic steps while some of the locals gawk at us from the other side of the fence. They are fascinated to watch us swat at all the flies, I guess!
Once again, the ride is hot. Our driver turns on the “air conditioning”, but all it is blowing is hot air. We want to open the windows to let in some outside air, but it is too dusty, so we wait until we are finally back on an asphalt road.
Back at the hotel, we all shower and rest for a bit before meeting up for dinner. We walk back to the Lewi, the place we ate on Saturday night. I know I need to eat something to regain strength so I order spaghetti with marinara sauce. That seems safe, right? When it arrives it is a fish-filled sauce. Perhaps they meant Marine-era?! Needless to say, ordering food here is interesting. Fortunately, the sauce is on the side, so I ask for a tomato sauce instead and some eventually appears.
We walk back to the hotel, and call it a night. We are all tired and need our rest. Please continue to be praying for the health of our team. Everyone still seems a little “off”. Also, we are so hopeful that they will begin work on the well while we are here. Join us in praying that details would be resolved and we can move forward. The sooner the people of Sintaro have fresh water, the better!