Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Under the Weather and God's Work in the Clinic

The weather has been relatively pleasant for us Californians.  We have had rain almost every-other-day since arriving, which makes for cooler weather at night.  By "cool" I mean low 70s.  When it is hot, it's upper 90s, although I don't have a thermometer with me.

Tyler Paulson and Missy Nickerson have both been very sick for a day in the past week.  Our immune systems have been to adjust to African germs since arriving.  Both of them were completely knocked out for a 24+ hour period.  I lost a lot of sleep one night with a fever, but that is about it; I've had it easier.  Diarrhea is often an issue, so we are encouraged to talk about our poop a lot.

Last week I learned a lot about how to work in the clinic: dressing wounds, working the pharmacy, giving shots and vaccinations, etc.  This week I am learning how to meet the spiritual needs of patients.  When Jesus began his ministry he said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel," and what I love about this is not only did Jesus come proclaiming the message of the kingdom (the gospel), but he also brought the kingdom of heaven into peoples' lives (healing, freedom from oppression, food for the hungry multitude, etc).  Right now I am how to appreciate both of these truths in my day-to-day activities in the clinic.  Medicine can care for the physical needs of patients (although even then it is limited), and now I am finding opportunity to meet that with the spiritual: with prayer, encouragement, and the Word.

P.S. The World Cup outreach has been postponed due to technical difficulties and poor weather.  When it rains in Sudan, everything stops.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Goat Blood, Racing, and Sutures

This morning was a special morning.  When Sebit and Suzy have a team with them it is tradition to slaughter a goat and eat it for dinner.  No one really wanted to do it, so two days ago I volunteered.  Suzy has one goat in particular that really annoys her, so we picked that one.  They are smart enough to know when they are about to be slaughtered, so it made a lot of crying for a half hour this morning as we prepared and Sebit sharpened the knife.  Two compound workers pinned it down on a clean metal plate and exposed it neck...and omitting some descriptive words that may unsettle some of my readers, I slaughtered the goat.  I made it quick.  It was very bloody.  If anyone would like to see the pictures or a video I can show you in the states.

This morning before the goat slaughtering, a few of us went on a run with Sebit and Suzy.  Sudanese do not exercise, because they live lifestyles of exercising (walking many miles, carrying water, farming, etc).  So it is a peculiar thing for us to run in the morning; but we enjoy saying "Cheebak" (good morning) to all we encounter on the road.  This morning, on the return, a boy named Kuol decided to run with us crazy white people.  I caught up to him, and then we started racing.  He was fast! and much more fit than I am.  But we had much fun running together, and I practiced my Dinka with him, and he his English.

On Saturdays the medical clinic is closed except for emergencies.  This morning a seven-year-old boy came in who had injured himself with a farming hoe.  He had lacerated his big- and index-toe very deeply, and needed stitches.  I was lucky enough to be doing an errand in the clinic when he came in, and Caleb, our equivalent to a Physician Assistant, invited me to watch.  I also got the medical schooling twins to observe.  The boy was very afraid, and cried out very much.  There was pain, but it was very increased by his fear; dying by a spear is greatly feared among the people here, so the notion of being "speared" by needles and sutures is sometimes very concerning.  He was given local anesthesia, and Caleb stitched him up.  One and a half toes into it I got a little queasy and stepped out for some air.  I saw a lot of blood today, including the goat, and I needed a break.  I have seen and studied these things in textbooks, but never in person.

Tomorrow we are doing a "World Cup Outreach" at a local church, where we will be broadcasting the games using our satellite dish.  During halftime Sebit will be sharing the gospel through a series of "commercials."  Right now Tyler, Sebit, myself, and a handful of others are filming them using my video camera.  Pray for a great response tomorrow!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wound Care and Football

Today was assigned to wound care in the clinic.  Jessica helped me with my first one and taught me how to clean and bandage wounds, and by the end the afternoon I had cared for 7 patients.  I bandaged two fingers, a number of legs, a knee, and a heel.  Half of the injuries were from motorbikes; in the past two years there has been a large increase of vehicles on the road (and also the quantity and quality of roads), and there are not any laws governing licenses or the road.  There is no DMV, but there are many accidents.

One boy came in who had been hit by a motorbike four days prior.  He had a deep half-dollar sized gash in his knee, and a deep cut on his heel.  The knee was infected, and the flesh gray and smelly.  I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide and pulled out the debris, and then bandaged it with sterile gauze and betadine (similar to iodine, kills bacteria).  He was also given antibiotics.  He will come back Monday and I'll redress him until he heals.

In the afternoon Sebit took the twins and me out into town to tell people about a "World Cup Outreach" we are doing this Sunday.  We also went to a football (soccer) field in the neighborhood and played with the locals.  We played with all ages, from about 7 up to 20, and had lots of fun.  There were three teams, and the losing team walked off the field and the resting team walked on.  My team won one and lost one.  I have not played soccer competitively since I was 12, and was very rusty, and very out of shape, but greatly enjoyed the game.  It was late afternoon and the sun was soon setting, so that it strained and pierced through the clouds in the horizon.  It was very beautiful.  The people here are very beautiful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Outreach to Malony

Today I went with half of the medical clinic staff to a village 45 minutes outside Tonj called Malony.  There has been a lot of construction in the last couple years, and we were able to drive 2/3 of the way on a paved dirt road.  We had to off-road the last third to the village.

This was the first time we had ever done an outreach in this village, even though our government-paid security guard lives in it.  His name is Dut, and he is quite silly and very fun.  I worked in the pharmacy again.  I also was able to share the gospel using an “evangecube” which was translated into Dinka.  A surprising number of children and adults knew some English—even enough for a complete conversation.  I made friends with a boy named Michael and with the headmaster Barnaba.  Barnaba took to liking me, and offered to pay 50 cows for the dowry of my first Sudanese wife.  He said, “you will stay here, and you will become Sudan.”  He was very kind, and very thankful to have me share the gospel with the children and adults.  Michael asked me for my Christian name, and I told him it is “Daniel.”  Then I shared the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the children really enjoyed it; especially the part when God shuts the lions’ mouths.

It eventually began raining and we had to close the clinic.  But we had a puncture in one of the vehicle tires and had to wait for Sebit and our driver to be fixed.  There was a portable metal room at the village that In Deed and Truth had brought a few months ago to use as a temporary medical facility, and we took shelter in it.  A Sudanese mother and her children joined us inside for the hour we had to wait.  She had a delightful young girl perhaps 3 years old.  While sitting in a chair I held out my hand to her and she came close to stand by my legs and eventually hug them.  But she soon began reaching up to climb into my lap, so I picked her up and played with her for a while.  She was very calm, and she eventually fell asleep in my arms for a half hour.  I had much of that time to pray for her.  She will likely grow up and not remember me, but I was happy to pray that she grows up to know her heavenly Father’s embrace as she today knew mine.

It is very hard to believe I had been here only two full days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Day in the Clinic

So today I was assigned to wound care.  Since we had heavy rain last night there were fewer patients today (Sudanese don't like rain).  But there were still over 60 who came in.  There was one boy this morning that had a laceration on his foot from stepping on a glass bottle while playing soccer.  I did not clean his wound, but observed as Jessica did.  She is a nursing student from New Mexico who is also here for two months.  The bulk of the day I spent in the pharmacy counting and pre-packing pills for the prescriptions made by our doctors (who are twins from the USA in their second year of medical school).  While in the pharmacy my Dinka friends taught me about marriage, education, and culture in Suadn, and we had a lot of fun.  Most Dinka do not speak English, but the ones working at the compound know enough for a good conversation.  They serve as translators for us in the clinic, and our Dinka tutors.

In the afternoon I got to administer DPT vaccinations to two infants.  This would be totally illegal in the United States, but Jessica taught me how to give a shot and I vaccinated the next two babies that came in the clinic.  Very exciting!

Tomorrow we are doing an outreach and mobile medical clinic at a village outside Tonj called Maloney.

The language barrier is the hardest obstacle to overcome so far.  Please pray for God to provide ways to communicate with the local men and women.

I somehow forgot my USB cable for my camera, so I have been unable to upload pictures.  But I should be able to find one from someone on my team.

First Update from Tonj, Sudan

Today I arrived in Tonj, Sudan!  The team and I flew from Nairobi, Kenya this morning with Missions Aviation Fellowship (MAF) through Juba and into Tonj in South Sudan.  The sights of the African bush were quite amazing from the air: an amorphous blend of grass, tree, and floodplain speckled with rural huts and aluminum shelters.  Halfway through we crossed the Nile as well.
Upon landing in Tonj we were met by Sabet and Suzy Kuj along with a number of their staff and friends.  We were then driven to the compound, ate a pumpkin-soup lunch, toured the facilities, met all the staff, and were given an orientation.  I estimate the compound is at least 5 acres large, although I have not walked through all of it.  All our housing and living facilities are contained in the interior, which is then flanked on a couple sides by either the medical facilities, or land set apart for future projects.  In Deed and Truth is in the process of building a new permanent medical facility, and has plans for digging “boar-holes” (a very deep well) or other projects.

There are many Dinka men and women who volunteer at the compound, including some men from Kenya who mostly help in the medical clinic.  Right now there are over 25 of us staying at the compound, though that number will decrease in the upcoming days as previous workers go home or take a break.  When we were being introduced to the current staff, we were each given a Dinka name.  My name is Majok, which translates as a cow with a black head a white torso, and a black lower half.  The Sudanese men had a lot of fun naming us.

At 5:00pm we had a heavy downpour of rain that lasted less than an hour.  By San Diego standards is was comparable to El NiƱo.  There are also lots of (flying) bugs.  The 90+ degree weather also means that I live swimming in a thin film of sweat.  I just took a shower and dried off, but am already sticky again.  It is very humid after the late evening rain.

I am sharing a room with Tyler Paulson, a good friend from San Diego.  Our roof leaks in one spot, but is otherwise fine, and we sleep under mosquito nets for protection from bites and malaria (we are all on malaria medication, which is effective, but limiting our risk to exposure is still wise).

Tomorrow each of us begins with our duties around the compound.  I have been assigned to wound care/cleaning for the week, which I am very excited for.

I have internet access while here, although it seems to fail randomly throughout the day, and mostly at night.  I am writing this blog on Tuesday, although the internet is out at the moment and I’ll have to post later.

AND, my brother will be very pleased to know that we have a TV connection and can watch the World Cup.

Certainly another update is forthcoming after working in the clinic and seeing what my time here will look like.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Twenty-Three Hours to Launch!

Dear friends and family,

    Tomorrow I get on a plane to leave for Sudan!  My departure is 23 hours away!  You have all blessed me very much the past few weeks as I have prepared to leave, and I leave with my hopes set high on the Lord.

    My plane leaves Saturday morning, and I will reach Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday at midnight (2:00pm CA time).  I spend the night there at a missions compound and leave the next morning by plane for Sudan.  When I arrive in Tonj, Sudan on Monday the 21st I will remain there for two months until I return home around August 15.

    The best way to stay connected with me is to follow my blog at  You may also email me at  I should have decent access to the internet while in Sudan.

    Six other young people are flying out at the same time as me: my good friends Missy Nickerson and Tyler Paulson, two second-year medical school students from Ohio and New York (who are actually twins), a woman attending nursing school in New Mexico, and another woman who is committing two years in Sudan to serve as a midwife.  We will all meet in Kenya at the missionary house before flying into Sudan.

    I have much peace about going, and it is very exciting to see this trip come together after almost 2 years of praying and waiting.  I will be taking many pictures/video while there, and would like to host a coming-home party at my house in San Diego to share about my trip (I will likely do this again in San Luis Obispo in the fall).

    I cannot wait to update you from the bush!

Daniel Crawford

P.S.  There is a wonderful 20-minute documentary made by a Kenyan company covering Sabet and Suzy’s ministry in Sudan.  You can view it below.

Ministry Documentary from In Deed And Truth Ministries on Vimeo.