Missionary doctors work with togolese staff at the hospital. (ABWE photo)
However, "They haven't had an orthopedic surgeon out here in about eight years," said orthopedic surgeon Jeff Anhalt.
That explains why, two days after they arrived, their ten day surgery schedule was filled with appointments simply because people heard that the doctors were around. "It's amazing the needs out here," said Anhalt. "Fracture care and cast management, and fixation with plate and screws, and other hardware just aren't available, nor is the ability to get those things done. They just don't have the knowledge to do those surgeries."
Anhalt says there are several deformities there that you don't see in the US. Often those deformities prohibit people from walking which also means they can't work. Often they don't get married. The need is so great that time and lack of proper equipment has not allowed them to complete every surgery that is needed. Those surgeries must be postponed until the next trip.
The team of doctors does rounds to check up on patients after their operation, but also to learn more about where they stand spiritually. One of the doctors led a woman to the Lord on her third day of their visit. Every day, they see the love of Christ and the "treat thing is, these patients are here for a longer periods of time because of the amount of care they're going to require post-operatively and they're hearing that every day and we've already seen quite a few decisions for Christ and salvation since we've been here, That has been the most exciting thing and really, the reason the hospital is here," said Anhalt.
The trip has also been a time for Anhalt's children to learn about stewardship by seeing it in action. Through that, Anhalt says he hopes they can come back from the trip realizing, "I have gifts, I have things, and I can use them for Christ and I can be sensitive to when He would has me to use those for Him. That's the ultimate goal in bringing my kids out here."
For Anhalt, the difference between this trip and other hospitals he's been to was the faith of the hospital staff in Togo. "Just seeing the joy of these people with love the Lord and to hear them pray before eveyr case and to be able to talk to them about these things and the excitement that they have has just been very exciting and its infectious. Even though physically you leave a trip like this pretty exhausted, spiritually it really recharges your batteries and it allows you to go home with a new perspective on what joy looks like," he said.
The missionaries at the hospitals have asked that Christians pray for them to finish well. In the spiritually and physically demanding environment of the hospital, it is easy to become drained. At year end, the 29-bed hospital has a larger volume at year-end than the 1,000-bed hospital in the capital city.
For people who have travelled hours to ABWE's hospital, it is a light at the end of the tunnel said Anhlat; not only physically, but spiritually for eternity.