In the world of medical missions, there is NOTHING "in lieu of travel." Not really. Of course there are the integral components to any mission: prayer, prayer, and more prayer. There is not one thing that changes the need for prayer. But for those of us who travel to heal in Jesus' name, substitutions to the mandate to GO do not exist. During the past several months, as the world shut its doors due to Covid-19, frustration has been high. So much to do. So many places to go. So much need.
After much complaining and gnashing of teeth--my default mode--I went to prayer. And God answered to provide tools to enhance future trips.
A common issue in the field is how to teach patients to manage their health from a nutritional perspective. Poverty, accessibility, and long-standing tradition preclude easy acceptance of a healthy diet. And telling a diabetic in Asia for whom rice is a staple to only eat a small palmful of it is not sustainable.
During the forced hiatus, we worked with a nutrition professor from the University of Pittsburgh and two of her students who volunteered for a special projects semester. They researched diets to target diabetes, GERD, and hypertension, using foods regionally available to the poor. Through the magic of Zoom, they spoke with a Nepali friend, who provided insight on the diet of the Chepang people group, who eat nettles, dig tubers, and have no access to stores. They also spoke to a friend from Guatemala to tailor a diet for that region. Simple, pictorial hand-outs were prepared with basic information, translated into Nepali and Spanish.
Another issue in the field is pain, often from hard labor that strains even the strongest of muscles. During clinics, explanations and demonstrations of exercises are a start, but likely soon forgotten. A physical therapist developed simple exercises to target back, shoulder, arm, wrist, and neck pain. The handouts include pictures and simple directions, in the local languages. Coupled with a course of Paracetamol, it is hoped that lasting relief will be a reality.
And now, praise God, the wait is over. The SEAPC medical team is traveling to serve in Nepal in January, 2022. We will have our stethoscopes. Medicines. Prayer warriors. If past experiences continue, we will see miraculous healings through prayer to the Great Physician. But now we also have two new tools to support ongoing wellness. God used what appeared to be a season of useless waiting to provide new blessings, hope, and a future.
Let our adventures with a purpose begin anew! All glory to God!