The past week Erin was back in her element. A Registered Nurse by training, Erin has spent 12 years as a pediatric nurse in US hospitals, but has treated thousands of patients as a jungle nurse around the world. On our four-day trip to rural Cogo Erin treated over 100 patients. Most of those patients had no access to basic medical care and couldn’t afford the simplest of tests or medicine.
While we were in Honduras Erin constructed and managed a medical clinic inside the protected rainforest which treated nearly 2,000 patients a year. Before that, Erin spent the first five years in Honduras doing mobile medical clinics. Our first ministry in Honduras, in 2008, was Mike and Erin taking the bus an hour to get to Armenia Bonito with two boxes full of medicine to do medical clinics under a shade tree on the soccer field. Over the years our ministry in Honduras treated over 10,000 patients. Most of those were treated by Erin on the back of our pickup truck, under a shade tree or on a rickety bench.
Last week was the first time Erin got back to her missionary nursing roots, here in Africa, and treated people under shade trees or in someone’s simple home. She has treated many people since we arrived in April, but not in such humble clinic settings as we had in Cogo.
We brought a big bag of basic medicines and basic wound care and diagnostic equipment. Wherever we went (the island, the jungle, in a church, in a home) Erin set up shop and treated one patient or 30. Most people in the rural setting spoke little or no Spanish, so Erin relied on a Fang translator. Everyone received basic diagnostic service (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen, etc.) and had Erin sit and patiently listen and love on them.
Some folks tested positive for malaria. Erin treated some serious open wounds. Lots of people were diagnosed with hypertension. Erin gave one family (who had been holding out hope) news that their daughter with cerebral palsy would never be “normal.” Dozens of patients received vitamins, antibiotics or pain medication. Many more were given the name of the medication they needed to purchase or the specialist they needed to see. But, all of them received Christ’s mercy, compassion and prayer.
In the end, Erin was exhausted, but happy as can be. She was back in her element being a jungle nurse and bringing God glory and showing his mercy to people who would otherwise not receive it. This is a preview of coming attractions for Erin in Africa and she learned many culturally and medically relevant lessons she will implement in the future.