This was not my first time to Africa, but it was my first time to Togo with Sight.org.
I was not overwhelmed by the African landscape or culture, because I’m used to it and I love it. What I was overwhelmed by was the medical team that we have. I had met them all online and Lewis had told me stories about each one of them, but nothing could have prepared me for seeing them all in action. They are simply amazing people. It doesn’t matter if they are doing eye surgeries, sweeping the floor, cooking, or fixing a generator, they are consistently beautiful people, inside and out. I want to tell everyone I know about them, about their pasts, where God has brought them, their hearts, their love for the people of Togo, how lovingly they welcomed me, EVERYTHING! I am working on updating the team page with stories so that everyone can get to know each one of them a little better. I have already put up new pictures of each member, so check out the team page.
Other than falling in love with the team, what impacted me the most, was seeing the eye surgeries in person. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all the great needs around the world. It is easy to feel helpless and not know how to help or want to help everyone all at the same time. When I was in Togo, I felt like I was truly helping.
When I saw people go from completely blind to seeing within 24 hours, I knew God was doing something big through me and the team. They weren’t just getting their sight back, their whole lives were being changed. I got to experience 46 people’s lives be completely changed in three days. I wish I could explain how powerful that was.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate needles. I faint every single time I get blood drawn. So it’s kind of amusing that I work for a nonprofit that does eye surgeries. When I went to Togo, Lewis Swann kept asking me if I wanted to observe a surgery in the ambulance, and I promptly said no every time.
He finally convinced me to try. I was so worried that I would faint, and there was no room in that ambulance for me to faint. I had tried to watch videos of surgeries at my desk in Tyler, and every time I tried, I got light headed. Lewis just kept saying that it would be beneficial for me to watch, so I gave in, but not without lots of preparation. I had about five different people pray over me before I went in. I also convinced myself that if I had my camera between me and the patient, I could separate myself from what was actually happening.
I got my scrubs on, sterilized my feet, took a deep breath, said one last prayer, and stepped into the ambulance. I took several pictures and then the surgeon asked me to come closer. There were already 5 other people in that tiny ambulance, so I thought that I would just stay as far away as possible. Nope, he wanted me to stand straight over the patient!
Then something amazing happened: I was enthralled with the whole thing! The next thing I knew, my camera was down and I couldn’t stop staring at the surgery. The surgeon explained every step of the process and I could not believe how they were doing it! He just cut a slit, pulled out the cataract, cleaned it out with water, and replaced it with an artificial lens. Then he just covered it with a patch and the next day it would be healed on its own. It was absolutely amazing and I didn’t feel light headed at all!
I am so thankful that God gave me the ability to observe his amazing healing power through the surgeon.