Burned Out
By: Becky Jarnes

Her life was changed forever because of a brush fire. What had really happened? I can imagine her heroically dousing the blazing flames in her rice field when suddenly she had no way of escape. The hungry flames soon climb her African wrap. She watches her young skin melt, and barely notices her family's screams.

Earlier today, I watched as the visiting Doctor Gaines pulled back chunks of skin off her arms and legs like he was pealing a boiled peach. I caught myself thinking of the months of care ahead for this poor lady as I applied dressings to her body (which was almost 50 percent burned.) I am ashamed to admit that I also felt a little overwhelmed for the work that lay ahead of the hospital workers. How would we properly take care of her here? We tried all that day to move her to another local hospital (Kelo), but reports came back to us that even though cleaner and better stocked, her care wouldn't be any better there. I guess her fate was sealed before that news. She died that evening.

It's hard to describe the feelings that surrounded her death. I had the hope that she was getting better. It had appeared that way after three days of care. So much time and energy! Was it wasted? Was it a losing battle from the beginning? How sad that we don't have a burn care unit like at home, and that such accidents like burns and open fractures can often mean death.

I can still see her eyes looking up at me from her peeling deformed face. (I hate sounding that dramatic, but it sticks out in my mind.) Did I smile enough? Could I have done more? Would I have acted different if I had known she'd be dead by tonight? So many feelings! If somehow I could catch all my feelings in this swirling dust bowl of Africa - what would I find? If I could catch up to the sprinters in my mind and really hold on to them so I could really look at them - what would I see? Would I see hopelessness, selfishness, and fear glaring back at me or would I find hope, perseverance, and love? I'm scared to catch up with them in this dry desert tonight.

1 Corinthians 13 takes on a new meaning in Bere when the days sometimes climax with goat poop stuck to the bottom of my flip-flops and smelly fathers shouting at a dead newborn... It is all useless work without love. Every smile I share, and the small chubby belly I tickle would mean nothing if I was not prompted by love. Do I have enough here?
Somehow through all this questioning, God has shown me I don't need all the answers or the outcomes to the care I give. I just need to do my best with what I have. And of course do everything with love.

Just some thoughts in the night.

Becky Jarnes is originally from the United States.

Learn more about Bere Hospital by logging onto their website: www.berehospital.org.


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