I wish I could write a personal response to
each of you…but unfortunately time does not permit.
I want to start by saying the experience we
the last days was by far the most intense display of God's power,
provision and grace. Your prayers were felt in a way I’ve never
experienced before thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We plugged in with the U.N. in Jakarta…and
Governor of Jakarta, and told them we were volunteers from the states
with medical training and a grip load of medical supplies and water
We then hopped a flight to Medan, and then
Connected with the military who flew us in to ground zero.
We were taken to the central command post
to the newly established military hospital where all patients were
being treated. We arrived to find a scene beyond description. Hundreds
of people were waiting for any kind of help as there was little to no
treatment in process.
We set up the pharmacy with our supplies and
the existing ones...and began our work.
One by one we cleaned wounds. The problem
percent of the patients were Septic, which means the infection has
already reached the blood and death is almost certain. Our first night
there, I performed my first ever surgery ... I cut off almost half a
man's arm, as it was all gangrene and simply dead flesh. The operation
was performed over a bucket and in a room that was a solid puddle of
blood. The lights were on and off as the power would surge with the
We treated by candle light. That night was
... the boys and I worked until 12:30, almost 1:00 in the morning. And
we saw most of the critical cases die. Kids were screaming as there
last surviving family member had just died.
It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever
witnessed ... left and right we covered bodies with sheets and simply
had to move on to the living patients. Under our care, 36 patients died
the first night.
We relocated all living patients to a new
the current one was so full of infection, blood throw up, and rotting
dead bodies. The dead bodies were piled out side and waited to be
loaded into the trucks for the mass graves. It was a scene that brought
back to life the pictures of Auschwitz.
More patients died than we saved that day.
helpers were few and far between we could only give to so many, but
thank God we were not entirely alone ...we had a team of medics from
Malaysia who were brilliant. We worked as hard and as fast as we could
to salvage the ones who had a chance ... the biggest factor was time.
We had to clean the wounds and cut out all the rotten flesh before it
went into the blood stream.
Because of the amount of water from the
most people had muddy water in their lungs which was a problem we could
do nothing for. Even if we had had the best doctors, we had no
Intensive care unit, which meant all those patients drowned in there
own fluid. It was a scene I’ll never forget, as you would watch the
patients struggle to catch their last breath. All we could do was hold
them and be with them in there last moments; they coughed and moaned
and squirmed and then slowly they would slip away…as the shadow of
death passed over them.
We collapsed for a few hours of sleep only
awakened by an earthquake ... it was 5.0 on the scale. Everyone
panicked and screamed as they remembered the last earthquake. Everyone
expected another tidal wave, .as the first one hit only 20 minutes
after the big quake.
The following day was the turning point, as
more volunteers and a crew of Australian military doctors showed up to
operate. They set up, and one by one we brought the patients in. I was
one of the assistants ... the doctors and I chose the nine most urgent
cases with compound fractures and gangrene setting in. It was like a
war scene, people yelling…blood everywhere…not enough supplies…and yet,
we had to get the job done. Three of our operations were full
amputations, which I had to help do. We sawed the legs off .and cleaned
out all the maggots and stitched them up. There was a box under our
table full of legs we cut off .and piles of rotten flesh which we cut.
It may sound as if it was hopeless, but
we worked on would live, and so that was our motivation ... the harder
we worked the more we could save…
The doctors finished strong and had to
leave, and we
took over to recover the patients. There was an endless amount of work
to be done but God's grace was so present ... we had endless amounts of
energy to bust through sixteen hour days ...I’ve never experienced God
in that way before. We gave and gave and gave and his grace continued
to overflow to the thousands of families.
I had to translate in the operation room in
of the language I had no hold on, and yet at the moment, I was fully
fluent in both my understanding and translation. It was an event and
miracle only explainable by God.
There were actually so many miracles. The
we made it in as the first Americans into the region, the fact that God
knew our every need and provided Food, shelter and full protection by
the military, the fact that there was an amazing openness to pray and
witness to one of the most closed people groups in all of Indonesia. We
were legends in the city, but above and beyond that we were known as
the Christian Americans who came to help ... and that was probably the
greatest miracle of all. There is nothing in the world like being an
ambassador for Christ ... it is where life is found even amongst
Unfortunately for us, the press was allowed
hospital. From our first day we were on every major TV station in
Indonesia broadcasting that there were three Americans in the heart of
Banda Aceh. It was the evening of our third night, the GAM Rebels were
in the city and the first shooting broke out between the soldiers and
the rebels as they tried to kidnap a team of EMT’s ... the heat was on.
And the word was we had to lay extremely low. The military presence was
quite strong in the hospital. But in reality it was time to leave as we
came fast and quite.
That night we made the rounds with the new
explained the cases and checked up on all our patients ... that was the
first day we saved more than died ... it was a feeling of great
The four of us went room to room and talked
every patient ... we prayed and fed and simply touched them. I suppose
in the greatest times of need, .smiles and touch are the greatest
medicine that can be offered. All the people we directly worked with
were either dead or were in the recovery stage …it was an either or
situation ... the inescapable dilemma of Banda Aceh.