First serve, second observe, third think, then act

Sandy travelled to Angola in her fourth year of medical school to work at a the CEML hospital with Dr. Steve Foster. She has since returned three more times. 

Feeling called to missions, Sandy had chosen to pursue a career in medicine. She felt that medicine would allow her to reach anyone. Looking back, she is amazed at how God kept doors open to her. “It wasn’t because of me [that I got into medical school or general surgery] it was obviously God wanting me to take that path”, Sandy explains. She had applied to medical school and was wait-listed. She was accepted later that same year. Again, when she decided on general surgery as a focus, it wasn’t her first choice. It didn’t make sense that I got in based on the interviews that I did and the application that I had, Sandy said. This, again, was God opening doors for her and keeping the right doors open.

Sandy is currently in Angola and doesn’t know when she will return to Canada now that borders are closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Every morning, Sandy joins the team of medical staff from the hospital to review patient cases. The team reads a Bible verse and prays before adjourning the meeting. On Mondays and Thursdays, hospital staff run consultations with patients. They pray over every patient that they see. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday’s surgeries are conducted. 

Everything has changed since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic over COVID-19. Patients and hospital staff are stopped by police on their way to the hospital. All elective surgeries have been postponed. The hospital is very quiet now and no one knows what it will look like long-term.

Sandy explains that she’s used her time in Angola to watch and learn how things are done in the field. She observes first. It goes against her natural character, but Sandy says that watching pensively and acting slowly is how she’s learned to serve in the mission field. “God is more concerned about our character than about what we do,” Sandy said. 

She says that her greatest lesson serving the least reached in Angola is humility. We may go in expecting to accomplish so much, but we need to look at what is going on around us, think about what is needed and how we can contribute, and then act.

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