I am Natasha from Brisbane, in Australia. I am a nurse and midwife and I have just spent about 3 months on Tanna, Vanuatu at the Kapalpal school and clinic near the village of Loanialu. I also did shifts in town at the Lenakel Hospital. God worked in amazing ways while I was on Tanna, providing everything that was needed, sometimes through unexpected angels and I am so thankful to Him for the time that I was privileged to spend there.
Sharing a day at Kapalpal
I just wanted to share a story of a day living and working up at Kapalpal school and clinic to give a bit of insight and hopefully inspire those who would like to support or be involved in the work there.
I usually woke at an average hour of about 6:30 which was not too difficult due to the lack of electricity sending me happily to bed by 7 most nights.☺ Yes, lots of sleep, but needed after busy days at the clinic. You never knew quite what to expect!
You were quite compelled to be out of bed and respectable by a good hour because most of the locals have been up for hours by 7 and think it quite normal to drop around looking for the “Mrs” because someone was sick, or they needed a plastic bag or just wanted a chat or to kindly drop off a local pancake.
I think about 70% of mornings I walked out to full fog and rain and my raincoat was an essential companion that definitely didn't feel neglected! I, of course, started my morning with a coffee and breaky and then walked the 100 metres to the clinic, sometimes being pelted with horizontal rain with ash in it. Don't worry there were also glorious sunny mornings too! ☺
Sometimes there was a line up of people already sheltering in the school kitchen just near the clinic and other mornings I would just have a gaggle of gorgeous local kindy kids trying to find anything possibly wrong so they could just hang out and fiddle with all the interesting things in the clinic.
Then one morning…
Early on in my trip in June I was called over to the clinic at about 7 in the morning. No one was really around to see a man with a burn. Turns out he’d gotten this burn almost 12 months earlier. The man seemed about 50 something, and looked quite sickly. His left arm was fully bandaged and the smell that hit me when I approached him made me feel immediately dizzy and panicky! It was just the two of us and he couldn't speak English /:
The only other time I had smelt such a smell was also the only time I had ever fainted, which was on my first student nurse placement in a nursing home, helping to change dressings on a lady with gangrene in her legs.
The bottom of her leg fell off with the dressing and I was holding the dirty bandage bag, a terrible smell, the same bright green discharge, the same smell.
My head spun and I tried to stay calm as I just knew I was going to faint because of the memory the smell held. So I set up and I prayed, “please give me the strength for this, I know you can get me through this”.
I pulled back the dressing and it was way worse than I had imagined, and the flies descended and I couldn't see anymore, so I staggered out the door and fainted on the concrete. The last thing I heard was an “Oh, dear” from my patient, who now had a completely exposed wound and no one around and a nurse on the floor. Perfect!!! I bet he was thinking, “Does this chick know what she's doing”? Haha!
Let me finish this
Well I came to and prayed let me finish this, I have to finish this, so I pushed myself up, black dots in my vision, and started cleaning and slapping on some sort of dressing. Pretty sure it wasn't straight. I'm surprised it was on the arm. I could hardly see as I felt barely conscious and just repeated the words, “I'm so sorry”, over and over to the poor man and prayed please don't let me faint again. So after sitting down about three times on the floor while trying to complete the dressing I felt that it was at least adequately dressed till another day or another nurse could do something:/
Then I said, “Sorry,” again for the hundredth time and he said he would be back in 2 days. He was obviously crazy considering that I was on the floor more than I was dressing his arm, but I said, “Sure.” Then that night I prayed that the terrible job I had done dressing his arm would not cause it to drop off before two days!!
And God is good. He came back and I didn't faint and his arm was remarkably better. The smell was hardly there. He said he felt less sick and he came in beaming. Wow! Maybe I should faint more often! 🙂 Then I dressed his arm 3 times a week for 3 months. He started to be able to move his arm and the infection went and it was healing well.
I had regular patients and new patients all the time. It was a very rewarding job at the clinic and the people were just so grateful for your help, even though some days challenged me and put me out of my comfort zone! 🙂
I also had time to chill out and make friends with the locals, and had to hone my fire making skills and tackle some of my fears with rats and spiders. But it was an amazingly character building experience in which I had to learn to lean on God and trust Him with those things which are beyond our control.
The brothers and sisters at Loanialu are so friendly and welcoming and now feel like a second family. There are also so many people interested in learning about the Bible as most people already believe in God but don't have access to a Bible or are not able to read and understand the Bible by themselves.
Working in the clinic also allowed me to help people with their physical troubles, leading to their curiosity into what my beliefs were and wanting to know more about God. There is a lot of need on Tanna both physically and spiritually and not only was I able to contribute to them but I learnt and benefited so much myself from my time with them, and am thankful to God for calling me to spend time on Tanna this year.