Minette stayed on in the Obstetric Fistula Clinic through Christmas and into the new year. In January, she was able to go home, with the plan for her to return for a second surgery in April.
So finally April came around and I bumped into Minette at the Hope Centre church service. She was there with fellow teenage fistula patient, Miliarne. In their time together at the clinic, they had become great friends. And so it was arranged deliberately, for them to have their surgery scheduled at the same time. I love how Mercy Ships pays attention to these kinds of details. In my limited time visiting fistula patients, I've seen how much strength and healing goes on in the wards through the love and care of the nurses - but even more so, the solidarity of the patients being with women who have suffered the same illness. Can you imagine how wonderful it is to listen to testimonies every few weeks of women who have been healed? Such hope.
Again it was wonderful to spend time with Minette and Miliarne. They mostly wanted to play UNO with me and Jack came along sometimes as well. I'd like to say that my colours in Malagasy improved but mainly we improvised with pointing to the colour and then repeating the name - generally followed by much laughter.
It still gets me that I would go and visit the girls to help them with their healing - yet I was the one who seemed to come away feeling better. I always came away with renewed perspective and a smile on my face that was typical Malagasy. This was especially true when Mick was away for the second part of his course in England -it's hard to feel sorry for yourself in a hospital ward. Even harder when you're with people who really have something to complain about - yet don't. That's courage.
Well, sometimes we cannot heal them. Sometimes the fistulas are too complex, the scar tissue too great. Sometimes we build hope and then it comes crashing down. The surgeons assess; they look at all the options; and they weigh up the risks. Then they talk with the patient. And they talk with the nurses. And they talk with the friends. And that is what happened with Minette and Miliarne.
Hope is a strange thing. You can create hope with strength of mind. It is not always logical. It is spiritual. Now hope for Minette and Miliarne is not completely lost - it's deferred. They are to come back to the Fistula clinic in 3 months time. But it's not a guarantee - it's a hope.
I said goodbye to the girls a few weeks ago. We played UNO - no fingernail painting this time.😀 They had been practising English - and laughing at my attempts to mimic their Malagasy. I knew that I wouldn't see them again. It's always difficult to say goodbye because it made me realise how much i'd come to care about these girls. And it's a final goodbye. And they're not healed.....yet
However, I still have hope. Please pray for the girls - that they can return to the clinic and be fully healed.
Proverbs 13:12 NIV