Swaziland Medical Mission, Day 2

Dr. Lara Yoblonski shares her stories.

Day 2 – Swaziland Clinic.

You know how you pray that God will give you strength for the day but don’t really think you will need it?

We arrived at clinic today and had a lovely morning that was steady but slower the day before.  At about 2:15 there was an abrupt change.  School had let out and we advertised that we were a clinic for children. As they say if you build it they will come, and come they did.  A hoard of children came over the top of the hill and the team shifted into overdrive.

Even with the large numbers, the amazing thing was how the team still managed to make the children feel loved and special.  I saw an asthma flare treated with tenderness.  A high blood pressure discovered and referred with care and deworming pills and vitamins gently administered.

We ended up seeing over 300 patients and were able to triage about 100 more.  Many things we couldn’t change for these sweet young ones but we were able to give them some care and love.

This was only possible through the strength God gave us.

Please pray for those children in Swazi living in poverty and need.

Pray that God be their strength and shield.

Day 3

Swazi Clinic

First Day of Swazi Clinic

Dr. Lara Yoblonski shares her stories.

Day 1 – Swaziland Clinic.

We were all nervous and anticipating what we would encounter. We saw many lovely patients but one especially hit me.

A young first time mother with an 8 month old baby that had multiple medical issues after being born premature, one of which was uncontrolled seizures. She was having up to 10 a day. They were trying some new medications but the mother was not able to afford them. The baby was developmentally delayed and needed physical therapy but again there were no funds. The mother was worried,  even scared for her child. She wanted the best for her child but life was stopping her.

We arranged some things to temporarily help with medications and taught mom some physical therapy exercises. Mostly we were able to let her know we care and to pray for her to have hope and perseverance in doing the best for her baby. Hopefully this provided some comfort and decreased the stress for this sweet young mother.

Please pray for her if she crosses your mind.

Onward to the next clinic and who and what God has for us.

Dr. helping child

This Little Light of Mine

Guest post by Bev Washichek – Volunteer Team:

My Background

I grew up as a missionary kid in Japan and also was privileged to see and sometimes be involved in my parents’ missionary work – medicine, teaching, showing love and re-building in a country that was devastated in WWII. At that time, Japan was a 3rd world country. People were hungry, poor and sick.

My mom used to sing “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine” with us all the time. She would give us each a little candle (like a birthday candle), turn off the lights and show how one lights up the room, then light all our candles (there were five of us kids) and have us hold them all together and the room was so much brighter.

I am now heading into my “senior” years and live in Scottsdale (a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona). It is a city with lots of wealth and beautiful people (some artificially made that way); it’s a society with a strong undertone of competition and over-achievement.

With the strong influence from my upbringing, I was excited to volunteer – to turn off the electricity and see how God could use my small light for others. So here I was, headed to on a mission trip to  Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa with the CMO team. I confidently, yet naively, thought I was prepared.

The Trip

Day one of our Nairobi mission site brought me back to what is essential to all of us – shelter, food, medical care and very importantly, faith. Some of the people we served (almost 300 were registered that first day), live in houses made of things from the local landfill. Cutouts for doors and windows made it possible to see a wooden board inside – the bed. Privacy? Non-existent. Women were cooking with an open fire. No bathrooms, no running water, no electricity. The people here rarely have access to any medical care. Surprisingly many of them have a deep faith and belief in God’s love.

My station was the registration desk for CMO. That meant that I was the first “western impression” for our CMO team. Was I a good ambassador for our group? Did I frighten children? Was my smile genuine and did it show acceptance, love and concern? (Definitely my Swahili did not impress, but it did bring smiles!!)

God’s Love 

Holding a hand, over and over I said “God loves you. We love you too.” I really meant it. Our team was there because of our commitment to improve the welfare of others. If we could not do that, we wanted them to know that they are not alone. We prayed for the people we would meet before we left; and we will continue to pray for them, only now we have images of their faces in our hearts.

Did we make a difference? Were we present while being present? That is most definitely a skill that is hard to acquire. Did we actively listen? Did we make eye contact and have an engaged posture, perhaps a reassuring touch? Did we empathize with their situation? A situation that we truly cannot imagine living ourselves? Did we come across as being someone “better” than they are? How did we make each person FEEL?

I wanted to fix all their hardships! I wanted to improve their lives! I wanted to solve the problems! What I learned is that what they needed was for us to affirm their self-worth and dignity in the lives that they have.

Being Thankful 

Coming home I realized that again (been here before!) I am not thankful enough for all I have. Don’t we all get caught up in house remodeling, upgrading cars, and getting ahead at work, and on and on? It is time for me to bow my head and ask God to teach me humility. It is time to be thankful for my many blessings, including the opportunity to go to Kenya. I have regained some equilibrium in my life.

“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” My flicker of light is small, and sometimes it feels insignificant, but bundled with the lights of the rest of our CMO team, we were a beacon to many during our week in Nairobi. “Shine it all around the world, I’m going to let it shine…”

By: Bev Washichek

check in

I was the first “western impression” for our CMO team.

It’s not what we expected

One would think that we have all the answers and that we can anticipate what life will have in store for us. Well, think again. Today was an eye opener for many, and what I am about to share with you, are the stories and experiences of those who cared for those who came to clinic.

3 Stories

An eighty something year old woman complained of her back and shoulders hurting. When her dress was lifted to examine her legs, two very swollen and bulbous legs and feet were seen, with skin so tight that it was transparent. When asked if her legs were bothering her, she said no, just her back and shoulders.

A thirty something man presented with amputated toes on one foot, half of the other foot was gone, large sores and unable to walk. He had been like this for fifteen years. Half of his life. When asked how this had happened, he said the doctors didn’t know.

A middle aged women presented with a large amount of fluid in her abdomen with a diagnosis of hepatitis B. She was going to live maybe another year.

What to Say

So how do you tell them that there is nothing that we could do, or how to tell that middle aged woman that she was going to die soon through an interpreter and not knowing the ins and outs of their culture – what to say and what not to? You stumble, you grasp for words, and hope for the best.

Life is cruel sometimes. I for one am not always the true and valiant humanitarian, nor the consistent family man. And I wonder how I would fare if I was that eighty year old woman, that thirty something man or that woman who will die in a year. My life has not been all roses and peaches, as many of yours haven’t I would bet. It’s not what we expect of life. For those three patients, it’s not what they expected of life either.

Closing out the trip

We have a very short 3 hours of clinic tomorrow as we wrap up this medical mission trip so I’ll close out this blog for this trip. We came expecting to see a lot of children, and found ourselves surrounded by elderly adults who had ailments and more. It wasn’t what we expected. But then again, neither is what we face in life. I’m not so sure I understand it all. Let me know if you do.


Until next time, in all things give thanks.



More from David

Patti, Clinic

A Day to Remember

The abandoned clinic.

A long day, a hiccup or two, and a few wins made this a day to remember. Far out into the bush was a small abandoned medical clinic, accessible only by a hole laden dirt road and a canyon left from the rainy season. By the time we got there, the crowd was building, mostly elderly and many with old age disabilities and a long list of ailments. The medial clinic had not been used in many months, so we took it over and squeezed in doing our best to make it work. And we did.

The patients.

A seventeen year old girl was seen by our extraordinary Dr. Bryman, who on first glance thought she was 8 months pregnant. As she was explaining to the interpreter why she had come to us for, he began to cry. This mass in her belly had been there for a year, and on examination, it was evident that it was a large cystic tumor. Removal by surgery would change her life. We are finding out what it will cost and we will make sure her life is changed.

A young child, malnourished and wasted, sat quietly waiting to be seen. No smiles, no emotion. A simple placement of a hand on his shoulder did two things: the bones of his shoulder bones were easily felt, and a smile emerged from a frozen face. A smile perhaps that had been hidden for a very long time. He is now on the way to a nutritional rescue program.

A day to remember.

Two stories of only many many more, gives light to how a day can become deposited into our memory bank. A day to remember. We came not knowing what to expect and left knowing what was expected of us. To care. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? Bubbles blown, pillow case dresses given, being present when present, all made this a day to remember.

In all things give thanks,



Previous Post – Tomorrow’s Hope


Today’s Experience. Tomorrow’s Hope.

Today’s Experience

“When all is said and done…”

An hour and a half north of Nairobi is a school. A simple, unpretentious school, with students who are anxious to learn. And so we went. No fanfare, no expectations, no specific plan in mind other than to set up our clinic and to give freely of our talents and gifts as a medical missions team. A remote environment of poverty and want.

So what does that mean, and why does it matter? Simply put, for once there is some medical care being offered, received and graciously thanked for. The experience is genuine on both sides of the examination table. Questions asked, answers given, physical exams done, diagnosis made, medications prescribed. And prayer. Openly offered and openly received. The whole enchilada, the whole ball of wax, the full program. That can’t be all bad can it? Well, wait for it.

Tomorrow’s Hope

Remembering that it is not what we bring but what we leave behind, we look at the results of our efforts at the end of the day. It is not how many patients we saw, how many thanked us, nor how many were touched by our presence. It is more about the hope given for a chance to live another day, a chance to grow another year, and a chance for a child to reach their maximal potential in life. Just like this little girl that you see. Small in stature, and looking for love. The “bad” part is that without sustainable care, this would be a one time event, a one time booster of healthcare, a one time intervention of a disease.

Our Commitment

So, here is our commitment. We are working with local doctors, healthcare workers and the ministry of heath so that there will be continued care. We have an electronic record on every patient we see so that we can have follow up care. We will be back next year, and the year after next, and the year after that.

It’s not what we bring but what we leave behind.

In all things give thanks,



Read about our first day in Kenya

Little Girl, small in stature, and looking for love

Are you being present with others?

“Who are you?”

He’s not sure. Shy, protected, uncertain. He looks at us wondering who we are and what we are doing. What is he here for I wonder? A cough, congestion, malnutrition, or fever? I can only guess until he is seen by one of the examiners. His look never changes, his eyes asking, searching for answers. The answers will come. But will they be the answers he’s looking for?

The first day

We walked into our very first day of clinic with everyone ready to go to work, yet anxious of what the day was going to bring. Set up took a while, but once the kinks were worked out, the clinic ran smoothly. It worked. And there is that word: “works”. We came to do “works” and there is no denying that. We came to be present. There is no denying that either. Does being present trump “works”? Yes.

Being present

And it was evident when that little boy was seen and had a physical exam, a diagnosis was made, medications were ordered, and his hand was held. His hand was held. Being present when present. How many of us are present when present with our own family? Do we take the time we have together for granted? Do we hold the hands of our family just to be present when present? Or do we rush off to the next chore, the next event, the next thing on our hourly to do list?

This little boy came asking the question “who are you” with his eyes. He found out that we are simply humble folk, looking to be present when present with those who come to us for help.

Try doing this with your family. I found that I needed to do this. My life had become too much of “me” and too little of “them”. Find a moment to stop what you are doing, take the hand of one of your family members and just hold it. Hold it for a long time. Say nothing. Squeeze a little. Entwine fingers together. Look into their eyes. You’ll find that they know who you are and you them. Being present when present. It’s not what we bring but what we leave behind. A memory of caring.

In all things give thanks,



Being Present when Present

He looks at us wondering who we are and what we are doing.


Read more about the trip and our preparation

“Good works?” Not so fast.

Something happened.

A slap of the hand, cold water thrown in my face, a shot across the bow and the realization that all that I have been doing needs a refocus. These things called “good works”, the things we do when we go on medical mission trips, are all “good”, and we are “blessed” to be able to do them. We share the stories, we talk about the successes of treating a disease that had never been diagnosed, of giving nutrition to the malnourished child, of bringing health back to those who have never known health and we bask in the glory of it all. We are blessed. But not so fast.

What is enough?

A pastor from Scottsdale Bible Church were we attend, gave me a book to read called “The Pressure’s Off” by Larry Crabb. People come into our lives for a variety of reasons, bringing with them insight to an issue, an awareness of oneself and more. He did just that. I had become quite the self-centered person and needed a dressing down. All the “good works” had become the focus of my life under the pretense of being God directed. A hiccup in my life changed that focus. In the book, I learned that God’s blessings are things that we ask for, and when we get them, we say “see how God answers my prayers”, and when we don’t, we say “what am I doing wrong.” That is a life of asking and expecting God to give us when He may not get anything in return. So how about another way to look at “good works”? What if we simply search for God’s presence, bask in Him, live for Him and give Him our attention and love unconditionally, and never expect any blessings in return and that the only thing that we would get out of this “relationship” is a love that is beyond comprehension? Would that be enough for us? I am learning that it is indeed so.


As we prepare for our trip in a few days, we look to the “good works” that we will be doing for those who come to us for help. But here is the charge I give you: it is not going to be about the “good works” that we will do. It will be about the relationship that we will have with God, each of us in our own way that will set the foundation for our presence with those who come to us. It will be about how we commit ourselves to Him, to bask in His presence, and to feel the Holy Spirit in our hearts. I leave you with the very first line of a prayer that I learned when I went on a retreat called a Walk to Emmaus: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love.”

Let your hearts be filled as we prepare for this medical mission.

In all things give thanks,


man reading bible, praying


In All Things, Give Thanks

In all things, give thanks.  She swept the dirt floor, moving dirt from dirt, the dust following. The one room house, no bigger than a normal sized bedroom, had two large bamboo mats laid side by side on the floor, bedding piled neatly on each. A small charcoal open pit was in the corner with a few pots and pans stacked on each other. Two small windows were open, allowing a little of the African breeze to drift through the room and out the door that had no door. Four children, ages uncertain, but all less than five years old, gathered outside with smiles on their faces as they motioned me in. I was being invited into their “home”.

Their “Home”

Ethiopia has their populated and modern cities and their dismal, underprivileged, underserved, and wanting little villages. It was in one of those villages that I was visiting, doing an assessment of the healthcare that the children were receiving before I brought a medical team. The village was remote, no electricity or sewers, holes in an open shack for a latrine for those villagers who chose to use it rather than going on the side of their “homes”. No running water, no well, no water tanks, just a small dirty river that ran on the outskirts of the village. They drank it, washed in it, cooked with it and played in it. An underprivileged village for sure. And yet, the people were smiling, gracious, welcoming and inviting. I entered the “home”.

Proud of what she had

The mother stood in the center of her “house”, with her children around her.  She extended her arms out to show me her “house”, her smile big, her teeth missing, and her eyes brimming with pride. This was her “house”. Dirt floor, charcoal pit, bamboo mats, two windows and a door. She offered me some tea and asked me to sit on one of the bamboo mats. I did and the children followed. A small cup of very hot tea was served, sweetened with a lot of sugar, and handed to me, her two hands holding it and placing it in mine. And always smiling. She was proud of what she had. She had everything she needed and nothing that she didn’t.

My confession

I could not say the same for me. I had more than I materialistically needed and much that I didn’t need materialistically. And yet, my smiles were often absent. I always wanted more. A fair confession on my part to be sure. I wonder if you feel the same. We have a lot don’t we.  It’s only when we see others who do not have what we believe they should have, do we realize our blessings. There for the grace of God, go I.

I reflect

At this time of thanksgiving, I reflect on that mother’s smile, her genuine pride in having a “home” and her children. I reflect on how she was never embarrassed to invite me into her “home”. I watched as she swept dirt from dirt, and made me feel comfortable in her “home”. I was humbled by her unpretentious character. And I left smiling to myself, and giving thanks for all that I have. Sometimes it takes a humble mother, four small children, one room, two small windows, a door without a door, two bamboo mats, a charcoal pit, a broom and a dirt floor, to see myself.


In all things give thanks,


In All Things, Give Thanks

God’s Grace

Far outside our comfort zone

Dust billowing behind the LandRover, obscured the two other LandRovers behind it. We have been driving for over an hour through the bush, not on a road, and by dead reckoning. The pastor who was hosting us, had been living in this area for over ten years, building small churches in the remote villages that were far from each other, but open for some semblance of a God. We were going to one of these small villages, bringing with us medical supplies and God’s grace. Pastor was excited. We were nervous.

Sometimes we are put in positions that are far outside our comfort zone. We shy away from the challenge and retreat back into our circle of protection from the outside world. It’s safer there. No need to worry about the unexpected, the intrusion, nor the fact that we may not be able to handle what is given us. I find myself there often as well. Safe, protected and sure of what is. However, this time, on this dusty road to who knows where, I didn’t feel safe, protected, and I did not know what “is” was. So, I gave it all up and asked for protection from the One who has the greatest security force in the world: trust in Him. I felt better, but ashamed just a little bit, that I had some doubt as to His protection. Shame on me.

A familiar place

We arrived to a small gathering of villagers, mostly women and children, all singing welcome songs, dancing and greeting us with outstretched arms and hugs. We were dirty from the drive, sweaty and dusty, and when partnered with the hygiene of the villagers, even a HAZMAT cleansing would not have been enough. We set up the clinic and began. Hot, dirty and happy now that we knew what we needed to do and where. Fear of the unknown is often that which paralyzes us. We were good now. We were in our comfort zone, practicing medicine, praying with patients and doing His work. Until it happened.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the child fall to the ground. Her mother quickly picked her up and began running towards us. We have contingency plans for emergencies and went into an emergency mode, the identified emergency team members quickly surrounding the child, emergency medications brought and we began the resuscitation. The child had had a very complex seizure, wasn’t breathing all that well and was quickly fading. We breathed for her, gave her medication to stop her seizure, placed an IV and gave her fluids. After a few minutes she stopped seizing, began breathing on her own and was stable.

But she didn’t wake up. Her mother was continually crying, pleading, villagers also, and the scene was getting tense. Our interpreter said that the villagers believed that we brought a curse into their village and that that the child was evidence. Not a good thing to hear and a place to be in. The pastor who spoke their language tried to reassure them, but to no avail. I stood and asked the pastor to translate for me.

Seeking trust

“This little girl has had a convulsion. She is stable now and it will be awhile before she wakes. I don’t know what caused her convulsion, but I will do my best to find out. It is not a curse. If it was, why did it only affect her? I ask you to trust us, to help us and to give us time.”

The villagers were skeptical, some afraid of the “curse”, others afraid of us. The medical team gathered around the little girl, placed our hands on her, and we prayed. And, in a few minutes, she opened her eyes and looked around. The villagers were silent. They did not understand what had happened. But we did.

God’s Hands, God’s Grace

We are simply God’s hands and serve those who come to us for help. It is He who decides the outcome. We are expected as medical professionals to do our very best, to use our experience, our training our gifts and talents to diagnosis and treat illnesses that are presented to us. Above all we are asked to be present when present. To be there for our patients, assured of our intent to serve and comforted by God’s hand.

The little girl over the day, recovered, and we found that she had malaria and her fever is what caused the seizure. We treated her malaria and fever and gave her mother additional medication for seizures if more occurred and instructed her on how to use it. As we were leaving, there was again singing and dancing, embraces and promises. Promises of prayer for each other. We gathered around the little girl one more time, the medical team and the villagers, hands raised high above her, and we prayed, each in their own way and ours. It was not what we brought, but what we left behind. God’s grace was all around us.

In all things give thanks,


Fear of the unknown is often that which paralyzes us.

Fear of the unknown is often that which paralyzes us.