Each year, I spend a few months serving at Christian hospitals located in very remote parts of Africa. I go to relieve long-term missionary surgeons so they can have a break from the exhausting pace and go back to their home countries to see their families and friends. Several years ago I was working at a small mission hospital on the banks of the Zambezi River in far western Zambia. Late one cold Winter night we were in the theatre doing an emergency surgery when there was a knock on the theatre door. Through the glass we could see Gift—the nurse on duty—and the urgency in his eyes. He told us that a young lady had just come to the hospital and that she was very sick and needed our immediate attention.
She lived in one of the many small villages on the west side of the Zambezi River across from the hospital. Several days earlier she had a miscarriage and was suffering from continuous bleeding. She had lost so much blood that she was barely able to stand and was much too weak to walk. She was in desperate need of help. Her concerned family and friends loaded her on to the back of an ox cart and after journeying for several hours through deep, sandy paths, they made it to the river long after dark. They then lifted her into a small dugout canoe, 16 inches across and just a few inches deep, and they paddled their way across the crocodile-infested waters of the Zambezi in the darkness. After making it safely to the other side, they carried her on a makeshift stretcher up the steep bank another kilometer to the hospital.
After news of her arrival, I finished an emergency surgery and quickly went to assess her. She was cold, wet, shivering and in shock. She was so pale. Her hemoglobin, which should be 12-15 grams, was a mere 3 grams. Her blood pressure was unrecordable. Gift quickly took a sample of her blood to the lab to find a cross-match for a blood transfusion.
I remember so vividly that she had no shoes on her feet and her feet were calloused and scarred from her daily life of toil. And every swirl, crevice and ridge of the soles of her feet were darkly stained with the soil from around her home and village. In the bright light of the operating room, the contrast of her pale skin and the swirling dark patterns made her feet look beautiful—almost like a work of art.
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SOURCE: Charisma News