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“The importance of compassion in medical care”

CIU Nursing students and other mission team members observe an "operating theater" in Zambia, known as an Operating Room in the United States. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Jimmy Leach)

June 26, 2024

By Bob Holmes


CIU nursing students minister in Zambia

For a second summer, CIU Nursing sent students on a mission trip to (and around) Livingstone, Zambia. The students, Elizabeth Fernett, Rachel Gayner and Bethany Rymer, participated in numerous medical outreach activities in community health clinics, orphanages, nursing homes, and two rural mission hospitals.

They were accompanied by faculty member Dr. Jimmy Leach and adjunct faculty member, Debi Lammert, as they partnered with missionary hosts of “Come Go With Us” ministry.

For Fernett, a rising junior, the trip was an opportunity for exposure to her interest in the area of Labor and Delivery and to show the love of Christ.

“I experienced the importance of compassion in medical care with the elderly, the orphaned, new mothers, and new babies,” Fernett wrote in an email interview. “At one point we got to see a new mother who was 13 years of age with her new baby girl. The baby had been transferred to the NICU. Getting to spend time with the mother and show compassion and love to her and her baby was a way where we had to be professional.”

The CIU team gifted the Zambian mothers with a large supply of baby items such as cloth diapers, blankets, pacifiers and baby clothes — items that Fernett noted can easily be obtained in the United States by just a click of a button or a 10-minute ride down the road to the nearest store. However, not only are these items not as readily available in Zambia, they can be very expensive there.

“Seeing the pure joy and thankfulness on the faces of 70+ mothers who were awaiting the birth of their new little babies, knowing that they had been blessed with these gifts, was such a memorable part of my time in Zambia,” Fernett wrote. “Alongside this, we got to teach them basic baby care and safety, such as how to hold your baby correctly, why it is important not to shake the baby, and how to properly practice skin to skin care.”

For Fernett, the most faith-stretching part of the trip was just getting there. Fifteen minutes into their transatlantic flight, their plane had to turn around and make an emergency landing back to Atlanta. The flight was cancelled. When they finally got a flight to London to catch a connecting flight to Africa, they were told their connecting flight and itinerary was changed. After finally switching airlines and changing itinerary for the third time, they finally made it to Zambia, but their baggage did not — at least not right away.

“God showed us through this whole process that through it all, He truly is the one in control and we MUST trust that His will and purpose will come to completion,” Fernett wrote. “Through it all we must have patience, even when it is out of our control. The Lord was faithful to protect us on our flight, to provide just enough time for layovers, kind flight attendants, and humbled hearts. Our ways are truly not His ways.”

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