Monday, September 29, 2014

That Time I Stayed at a Hospital in Benin

Thanks Elder Mejean for shining my shoes.

Remember that one week when I scared everybody about going to a hospital during the Ebola outbreak? Thankfully that time I really was kidding about going to hospitals.

But this week, I actually got to stay overnight in a hospital! Cool, huh? No worries, I wasn't the one who was sick... and no, it wasn't Ebola this time either.  Elder Mejean, who leaves in about 12 days, got super, super sick this past Saturday. When we got home he was throwing up everything he was eating/drinking, had body numbness, and was getting weak to the point where he couldn't open up his hands anymore...

So, late on Saturday night, President and Sister Morin told Elder Mejean to go to the hospital. The Office Elders picked him up and originally his companion was going to go with him, but I was the only one who ended up knowing where the hospital was (thanks to nine months in the Office!). 

Now, before this hospital experience, I had already had a few different experiences with African medical care. The mission tries its best to find the best medical care here in Cotonou, but even with the best, it's a bit dismal here. For example, earlier this year I had a filling fall out of one of my teeth. The first time I went, the dentist filled the wrong cavity. The second time I went, she actually filled in the right tooth... but 6 months later it fell out again. And I can feel the same filling cracking again... As you can imagine, my confidence in African health care, no matter how good it looks, isn't really great. 

Anyway, we got to the hospital and they started taking care of Elder Mejean. Then they took us to our room and... it looked promising! It had a TV, an air conditioner, hot water tank, and two beds... but like I said before, no matter how good it looks, it really isn't that great. 

They gave Elder Mejean some IV meds which helped him out a bit. Thankfully, by this point he was doing much better. But, we quickly found out that there are a few simple commodities offered in western hospitals that just don't seem to be necessary in our little African hospital. 

For example, water. When we asked them to send up water to the room, they told us that they weren't able to because they don't have water... ummm... okay. Thankfully, the Office Elders were able to send up some water they had in their car... otherwise we were out of luck. 

Another thing you would think they would offer us would be sheets. Nope! I know this place wasn't supposed to be the Sheraton hotel, but come on. They did give us a bed sheet to place over the mattress but nothing to cover myself with. Thankfully, in my haste in packing my bag to stay overnight at the hospital, I brought an extra t-shirt and underwear which was the only thing I had to put over me while I slept. 

Surprisingly, there's a reason why underwear isn't sold as a bed linen. By the next morning, I thought the nurses had come into the room and given me an extra blanket because I was all wrapped up in a sheet... when I opened my eyes, I found out that I had used the one bed sheet they gave me and wrapped myself in it. It was actually quite comfortable but I really hope they sanitize regularly the beds that we slept on. I hope nobody who had leprosy or any other strange skin disease slept on that bed, too. 

Anyway, that morning happened to be Sunday morning. Elder Mejean was still feeling a bit sick, but the couple stopped by in the morning to give us some breakfast and lunch (which was delicious!). President also gave Elder Mejean and I permission to bless the sacrament in our hospital room, which was a special experience. It was weird being a missionary and not going to Church! But, I was very glad that I was still able to take the sacrament. 

After that, I decided that I would go check out our hot water status for a nice long shower... Well, upon further inspection I saw that the hot water tank was turned off (so there wasn't any hot water) and I also saw that the lines were looking pretty rusty and it looked like it hadn't been used for a very long time... oooohhhh well... no hot shower this time. Thankfully the air conditioner was in perfect condition. 

The couple had also dropped off some Liahonas (magazines) that I was able to read to pass the time. I also read random Old Testament stories to Elder Mejean, but that got old really quick. We ended up talking a ton to pass the time.

Thankfully we got a few visits throughout the day. The Office Elders in my sector brought over Rebecca, the mom of Sara (who was my last convert while I was at the Bureau), who made us some couscous and tomato sauce which was really nice of her! Since we were in Elder Kunz's sector, he and his companion came and visited us for a bit as well! 

Towards the end of the day, we started wondering when we would be able to leave because Elder Mejean was feeling fine. At the hospital there is no way to call the nurses/doctors, so I was the one who always had to go down and get them if there was a problem. I kept having to go down and kept wondering when they would come up to the room, but they were taking forever. Finally they told us that he would have to spend another night at the hospital so that it would be a full 24 hours. However, Elder Mejean's comp came and took over my spot and I was able to leave that little room for once! I was quite happy to return to my bed back at the apartment! Never thought I'd say that. 

Elder Mejean did end up getting out of there at around noon today. He's doing fine and the final word was that he had a stomach infection due to some bad sweet potatoes that he had eaten. Thankfully, I had a mangez-vous the night he had eaten them. If I hadn't, I would probably have had the same fate as Elder Mejean! It was sad throwing away the rest of the 3-5 pounds of sweet potatoes that we had left (that cost us two dollars) but you know... I now know that avoiding a hospital stay here is for the best! 

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos because Elder Mejean kept telling me that my camera would get stolen if I had taken it out... so no photos for the monumental hospital stay. And nothing did actually get stolen so that was a bonus! 

Other than that, this week was pretty average. We had a conference this week about obedience which was really good. We had learned a lot about things we can do to lengthen our stride and make this mission an even greater mission. 

To leave you on a good note, we had another ami get baptized this week! Her name is Betty and you might recognize her from the wedding pictures from about a month ago! She is actually Ismael's wife and she has finally gotten baptized as well. She wasn't able to be baptized with her husband because she was traveling but we were happy to finally be able to do it. 

Me, Ismael, Betty, Ismael's sister and mom (members of the Gbedjromede Branch), and Elder Semeha.

Betty is a really great person and she happens to be the first non-Beninois/Togolais that I have baptized. She is from Nigeria (so as you can imagine, I did most of the teaching!). She is a real sweetheart and tries her best to understand French and participate in Church. Now, we hope to start to prepare them for an eternal marriage in a years time! 

I hope that everybody has a great week. It's pretty crazy to think that October is right on our doorstep, but here it is. Keep up the prayers and the good thoughts and I'll do the same.

Love you guys,

Elder Hawkins

Very colorful bush that I found. (yes that would be our neighbors hanging laundry on the bushes to dry). 

Scenes of Cotonou

Scenes of Cotonou

Scenes of Cotonou

Wildlife of Cotonou...a crab... 

....and a pig crossing the water drainage.

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