The last week of the DTS outreach (March 2-8) is on board the medical ship as well, where the days are as follows: breakfast at 6:30 am, DTS team meeting at 7:30 am (Bible study), half hours later ship meeting with all 115 volunteers where we are told which islands we are going to that day. Then we go down and make a long line to load all the gear into the boat. There are 3 medical teams, an optometry team and 2 community engagement teams, all going to different villages.
When we arrive on the island after a wonderful boat trip with the medical team, we start with an introduction, explaining who we are and what we do. John 10:10 says "Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I (Jesus) came to give life and abundance." And that is a great motivation for the work we do, to bring life and abundance in the Name of Jesus, by investing in health care.
Thanks to a nice IPad system, we can set up an effective clinic in no time. If there is a health center, we work there (together with the local health workers), but unfortunately there are many islands without healthcare facilities. In that case we set up the clinic in a church, school or outside under a tree. We have different 'stations' and everyone has their own role. Vaccinations (for babies and children under 5 years old), a physiotherapist, doctor with nurses and prenatal screening where I am placed with obstetrician Owen. Patients are registered by 2 team members, with the vital signs and complaints are registered, with a picture of the patient. As a result, each station is presented a list of their patients. In the prenatal screening we test for malaria, syphilis, HB, position and heart rate of the baby and we give tetanus injections and malaria prophylaxis. In addition, we calculate the expected day of birth (which they often don't know) and we provide education.
We often finish prenatal screening around 1 or 2 pm, so that allows us to see other patients as well. Thanks to Owen's expertise, we can often treat patients together, sometimes in consultation with the doctor.
In addition, we went to schools a number of times to vaccinate kids (tetanus). I also gave puberty talks for young girls. Thanks to a great project, we were able to give away reusable-pad-packs, enabling them to go to school or do their day-to-day activities, instead of having to isolate themselves during their monthly period.
I really enjoy working in the villages, connecting with the people, providing medical care, providing information, etc. I feel 'like a fish in the water' and it is truly a privilege to be able to pray with patients and see the Holy Spirit work.
Everything comes to an end, including this ship-outreach. Sunday morning we flew back to Townsville (Australia). There were 4 DTS teams in PNG, we all met at the airport in Port Moresby. After a short flight (2 hours), a long wait at the airport and more than 5 hours on the bus (from Cairns to Townsville), we were warmly welcomed by the 70 new students of the January-DTS. It was slightly overwhelming to see everyone again, with so many new students, little sleep and full of experiences and stories, but after a good night's sleep, everything is better.
The DTS will be finished in 2 weeks. That is why this time is all about processing, sharing stories and preparing for what comes next. It feels a bit like an emotional rollercoaster; As a DTS team we have become so close in recent weeks that it is a pity to have to say goodbye to many friends (for good) soon. But most of all I am filled with gratitude for the great team, the experiences, the people we met and were allowed to disciple.
We have great news from the contacts from the villages we have been to. After we left, they wanted to continue the work we started there. Because we have done programs everywhere with a group of young people from different villages in the area, a lot of unity has been created between the people from different villages. The family we stayed in has now made their home available as a meeting place for young people to reach out to people in the area, do prayer walks and organize programs with smaller groups, etc.
After the DTS I'll return to the ship in Papua New Guinea to work as a nurse in the medical teams. Then on May 17 I'll fly from PNG to Indonesia to volunteer in the slums for a month (via YWAM Bali). At the end of June I will go from Indonesia to Australia to attend the Birth Attendant School! This is a school (within YWAM) in which you are trained as a midwife to work third world countries (in one year). As part of the training we have two outreaches; 3 months in Asia (probably India) and 3 months in Africa.
I am really looking forward to what God is going to do! I am super passionate about investing in healthcare and creating healthy communities (including training local health workers). A healthy body makes it so much easier to enjoy life as God intended. Although it is sometimes difficult to be so far away from friends and family, I really feel that God is calling me to take these steps and start this (financial) adventure of faith! Working in the place for which God calls you gives such indescribable joy and so much satisfaction! Then it doesn't matter anymore that your toilet is a hole in the ground, you shower a bucket with a cup or the food is not varied.
In short, it was a great time, I learned a lot and experienced a lot from God. I am curious about the adventures ahead!