“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)
How do 10 strangers come together from different parts of America with the needed knowledge and skills to work with Ugandan Lutheran church leaders, pastors, lay members, and a local medical team to serve people living in a remote area of Uganda?
It was God’s plan, of course!
Following several months of pre-trip correspondence and planning for a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Mercy Medical Team trip, the American team connected in Amsterdam for the final flight to Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.
Following an overnight stay in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, the team drove six hours to Masindi, a small city a few miles away from the clinic site in Kyamujwara.
This group quickly moved from acquaintances to friends to a very efficient team with a shared passion: proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and providing compassionate and safe medical care to all patients to be served.
Setting up clinic
As with all LCMS Mercy Medical Teams, the structured process places Christ at the center of all that we did.
Each day began with the pastoral leaders — Bishop Rev. Charles Bameka, president of the Lutheran Church of Uganda; Rev. Raymond Kaija, a local pastor; and Rev. Brian Martin, the team chaplain — welcoming the crowd and explaining the clinic process.
A scripture message was shared and followed with prayer. Chaplain Martin and vicars (who served as teachers and translators) invited groups of 20 waiting patients to a designated area for a Gospel lesson.
Patients then proceeded through each of the medical clinic stations: Vital signs; triage/assessment of primary concerns; and medical provider assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan. When applicable, patients received lab tests and medication prescriptions.
At any time during this process, a patient may request a prayer or are offered a prayer by a team member, pastor or layperson.
Everyone on the team served as Christ’s hands and feet showing His compassionate love in their words and actions doing whatever was needed to keep the process flowing smoothly.
The waiting crowd grew each day, arriving by walking, bicycle or motorbike.
Medical conditions varied with some being very complex.
Late one afternoon, a young woman named Roziyani arrived with severe abdominal pain and dehydration. When IV fluids and available medicines on site were not helping, it was clear she needed to go to the hospital for more involved treatment.
But how would she be transported? Walking, bicycle or motorbike were not options; nor was an ambulance available.
The team bus, of course! Flexibility is a core value when serving on a MMT.
Roziyani was discharged from the hospital on our last day of clinic. On her way home, she walked to the clinic to thank Dr. Linus and the team for helping her when she was so very sick.
Medical care provided and referral to area medical resources for follow-up is certainly helpful to the people served.
However, the most important and eternally meaningful outcome of a MMT is introducing the people served to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As a MMT volunteer, this team agreed: We are humbled and blessed to be a blessing for others.
Bonnie Hartman served on the Uganda 2019 Mercy Medical Team as team leader. She lives in Godfrey, Ill., where she attends Faith Lutheran Church. Bonnie is a registered nurse, retired from her health care career and joyfully volunteers where help is needed.
The Uganda trip was Bonnie’s third with a Mercy Medical Team, having previously served working in the vital signs area and urgent care patient assessment in Sierra Leone in 2018 and 2019.
Bonnie enjoys assisting older adults, particularly those who have no family living near them. Bonnie enjoys reading, board games and spending time with family.