It is truly amazing how in this sanctuary space the Holy Spirit will ignite minds with ideas. As human beings, and even more so, because we are the body of Christ, we all long for connection. One of our volunteers and the resident nurse here at Thrive this week is Debbie Sifers. She felt led to connect the global women serving as nurses on the field.
One thing we heard over and over from many women was the issue of isolation. On the medical field, differences in culture can be particularly challenging, so seeing these like-minded women gather together over breakfast was a joy. They shared their stories to empathetic nods and much laughter. Almost tangibly, their spirits mingled together asking in giddy relief, “You too?!” The conversation flowed easily as sisters in Christ and coworkers in the far-reaching medical field related to one another and edified each other.
An interesting commonality among a few of the women was their inability to gain a nursing visa. In many countries throughout Africa, poverty runs rampant; therefore, the governments understandably wish to protect jobs for local workers. However, because of this, many qualified nurses are put in more administrative positions. This is challenging for many of them because they often experience frustration and a challenge in identity. They spend time studying, testing, and preparing, yet end up in a different position than they had hoped.
Hannah, a nurse serving in Uganda, is one of the women who has experienced this. She explained that though she would rather be hands-on nursing, a lot of the work to be done is through helping the patients understand how to get the help they need. Oftentimes, she said, because of the pervasive poverty, people assume their treatment will be too costly. Hannah, with her knowledge of the complex medical system, aids greatly in showing people how to get the help they need at little to no cost.
Similarly, Amy, a nurse in Cape Town serving with Living Hope’s medical ministry, has been placed in a more administrative position. She has been able to partner with native South African nurses—called “sisters” here—to provide an extra-governmental facility where the sick can be loved on and cared for more promptly than they would in the typical government facility. Amy emphasized that Living Hope’s mission is in no way to replace the government services provided; they simply wish to lessen the load. Cape Town not only experiences high volumes of need, but also experiences limited resources. Through it all, Amy and her team have been given the honor of partnering with the people of Cape Town.
These stories illuminate further the fact that, though we may not always have our expectations met precisely as we hoped, God is faithful to use us. God is infinitely creative in using our gifts, talents, and trainings to love and care for others.