Middle East STM 2017 - Update #1
Dear friends and family,
Sorry for the delay in sending out an update! The past week has been a whirlwind of activity, from arriving in Istanbul, Turkey in the afternoon for a layover and then flying out the next morning to Erbil, Iraq. From then, we took a 3 hour van ride to Duhok, where we have been staying and been based out of for the past five days. Last night, we wrapped up our first four full days of providing medical treatment, doing home visitations and working with children, and just overall being among and loving upon the Yazidi people.
The first three days were spent in a small village called Seje, where we were able to set up a clinic in the home of an American missionary who moved to Seje 2+ years ago after spending 7 years elsewhere in Iraq. His story is amazing because when he moved to this village, he had no idea why God called him to this particular spot... a week later the Yazidi genocide happened and refugees flooded into Seje. We saw 125+ patients in the first day, and extended our time in Seje from two days to three days so that we could make sure everyone could be seen. One testament to God's divine appointment is that on the last day, after we had already taken our last patient, a family with two paralyzed daughters came in. Gloria, our occupational therapist, happened to have just come back from her day working elsewhere in another camp--just in time to be able to work with one of the daughters who was more severely disabled. The doctors would not have been able to do much for her but Gloria was able to teach the parents exercises to build their daughter's strength. Their disabilities paled in comparison to the sweet smiles and demeanors of both the girls and they remain present in our thoughts and prayers.
Yesterday, we set up our clinic in Khanke, a refugee camp right outside a UN-sponsored refugee camp where refugees who were not able to get into the UN camps have set up homes. This camp is home to one of our translators, Farhan, and we were able to visit the tent that he lives in and meet some of the family members. There were so many people seeking medical care that we had to turn many away at the end of the day, as we only had one day in Khanke. While this was saddening, we still find joy in the opportunities we were given in the day that we had there. We were able to pray for and treat many patients, and show the love of God to the many children that gathered when we came. I personally had an amazing time because in the last couple of hours, I was able to take a break from triage for the medical team and play with and "talk" to a crowd of the sweetest girls the entire time!
Today we will be in the area around Sharya, in a village called Gurpane--please pray for God to continue to work through and among us to reach and connect with the people in Kurdistan. I know deep in my heart that God loves them so, so much and that in turn, we can be a channel of that love to them.
Main prayer requests:
- Many of the team members are struggling with fatigue (especially the medical providers), because we have very long days and are constantly in activity. Please pray for strength and energy to tackle each day.
- Please pray for the health of our team members; some are sick and the health of others are taking a dip.
- Please pray for healing for our translators, two of them (Farhan and Mirza) have back and arm pain, respectively. Please also pray that we would be able to be examples to all our translators and that they would come to know Christ, as they are not believers yet.
- Please continue to pray for the Yazidi people. They come from such a place of pain, suffering, and persecution, and prayers that they would experience the transforming and redeeming love of God are much, much needed.
Here is a news article that I found that is a pretty informative general description of the recent history of the persecution of the Yazidi people. They have been through so much and my heart breaks for them.
Again, thank you all for your support and prayers! Hopefully I will be able to send out more updates (with more details and pictures, because our wifi right now is too slow to send pictures). Take care!