For most of this trip, I have either been taking pictures, recording audio, helping with crowd control or filling in the gaps where needed. As one of the non-medical volunteers on this trip, the idea of working triage, vitals, or EKG was a little intimidating to me—and probably for good reason.
But today, I took a small step outside of my comfort zone and into a slightly medical role when I agreed to scribe for one of the doctors. Scribing for the doctors includes finding patient files, writing down their prescriptions and praying with them. There’s a binder full of stickers with medicine names on them, and my job was to find the correct one and place it on the prescription label.
This may not sound like much, but for a girl who somehow managed to weasel her way through high school and college without taking a single chemistry class, it felt like a huge responsibility. After a few patients though, I found the rhythm of my new role.
As much as I love stickers, interacting with the patients was by far the most interesting and rewarding part of the day. It was both amazing and heartbreaking to hear their stories of unfathomable endurance. One woman had been suffering from a hernia and gallstones for t h r e e y e a r s because she was unable to afford surgery. Other patients explained symptoms of heart failure as though they were minor inconveniences. I truly wish that their suffering was far from reality. At the same time, I couldn’t help but admire their strength.
For some of them, that strength is found out of necessity. The desire to provide for their families. Or maybe just pure Armenian stubbornness. But seeing the hope in their eyes when the translator said aghotenk told me that so many of them find their strength in the Lord. In His promises to walk with them through times of suffering.
As we prepare for our final day of clinic in Stepanavan, we remember that God is present in the details of every patient’s life. That He will continue to watch over them and sow seeds of hope in their hearts long after we’re gone. If our team plays even the smallest role in helping one person find that hope, every moment of hard work will have been worth it. –Lara Tovmassian Ingalls