Job Description of a Medical Missionary

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The longer we are here, the more  involved  the job description of my husband, general surgeon and hospital director, becomes:

When a 35-year-old man comes to the hospital with a painful inguinal hernia, he is  a  general surgeon. When a pregnant woman comes in need of a cesarean, he is an OB/GYN.

When during the C-section, the baby refuses to breath he is a neonatologist. When a 5-year-old comes in with a skull fracture after an accident he is both neurologist and neurosurgeon .

When Bouba, an eighteen year old boy, comes in after being stabbed through the diaphragm for calling his cousin a donkey stealer, he is a cardiothoracic surgeon and then pulmonologist.

When a seventy-year-old man comes in with a huge prostate and inability to urinate, he is an urologist.  When a 6 month old comes in with severe anemia from malaria, he is a  pediatrician.

When a 45-year-old comes in with hypertension and irregular heartbeat he is a cardiologist/internist. When a 45-year-old woman comes in with VERY advanced breast cancer, he is both surgeon and oncologist.  

When the minister of health comes to the hospital to discuss how to prevent another meningitis epidemic, he is a  Preventive Medicine doc.

When a two year old comes in and weighs only nine pounds, he is a dietitian. When our medication is running low, he is a pharmacist. When a twenty year old comes in with renal failure and our lab tech is away at a meeting, he is a laboratory technician.

When there are employee disputes, financial difficulties, fist-fights between nurses and patients, theft of money and medications, committee meetings, difficulties with the police and  army, and new nurses to hire, he is the hospital director. (He is often also a psychologist/counselor  in these situations.)

When one of our maintenance guys was having problems with his girlfriend, he gave advice and support  and acted as surrogate father. When asked to preach, he is preacher (much outside of his comfort zone).

When our male cat needed to be neutered, he was the veterinary (on the middle of the living room floor). When the female cat started spraying and needed to be spayed, he was assistant to a visiting American vet.

Any time large items need to be picked up for the hospital he is the driver/chauffeur.

When electricity goes off in the hospital (but not in the village) he is digging up buried electrical lines and patching them back together, and is an electrician. ( He is also an electrician when the oxygen machine blows up in the ER.)

When the voltage regulator catches fire in the lab, he is a fireman. When the oxygen concentrator (a different one) refuses to work, he is a mechanic. When the car stops running, he is an auto mechanic.

When I’m away or sick, he’s a Jr. High Teacher. Every morning he fixes breakfast and is therefore our cook. When we needed curtains to cover the windows, he was, yes, even a tailor.

When  the newly opened airstrip in Koza needs to have trees uprooted and holes filled in, he is a landscaper. When the Acacia trees lining the entrance to the hospital need to be cut down, he is a lumberjack, followed by landscaper, replanting new trees.

When the metal gate covering the windows is sawed off by the thief, and  needs to be repaired, he is a welder. When the roof is blowing off in the high winds, he is a roofer.

When we discovered that there were boxes upon boxes of things donated over the years, all hidden in the garage, he spent hours pouring over equipment and was a cleaning service.

When we suspect that someone has been breaking into one of the houses on the compound, he is the “assistant” guard (armed with machete).

When  the sink springs a BIG leak, he is a plumber (even when it is fixed with an old bike inner tube). When the hospital latrine falls in, he is in there helping clean up and afterward manually digging a new hole with the other maintenance guys.

When our toilet stops working two weeks before vacation in the US, and the replacement doc is staying at our house, he is again the plumber.  When he finds out that it has stopped up because the septic tank is full, he is out there manually scooping out 15 years’ worth of waste. What would you call that? I call him a saint.

At the end of the day, he comes home and is the spiritual leader of our home; and the best father and husband anyone could dream of.

Greg holds “many hats”. It is a very difficult position, but God is supporting him moment by moment, day by day.

P.S. Every one of these situations is true!

By Audrey Shank

Note: When Audrey wrote this article, she and her husband Greg, were serving in Koza, Cameroon.

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