Many Maranatha students gathered around their circle of friends on a sunny Monday after spring break, gushing with excitement to share their stories about sleeping in, ignoring homework, and visiting family.
Senior Timothy McKinney’s spring break stories were more unusual.
For example, he helped deliver a baby in the middle of the night. And, if that wasn’t memorable enough, the delivery took place in a hospital in the central African country of Chad.
“The room had two kerosene lanterns, and I had my small flashlight,” McKinney said. “Neither the midwife, the mother, the grandmother, or the great-grandmother spoke English, so we communicated with hand gestures and the little bit of French we picked up.
“After a few hours, the midwife motioned for one of us to don sterile gloves and assist. The midwife made Stephanie fan me from behind. It was still around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so we were pretty warm with the gloves and apron on.”
McKinney then became more than just a student observer.
“As the contractions hit and the mother pushed, the midwife showed me how to assist as she pushed. The baby started to come out about one fourth of the way, and the midwife had me grab the baby and pull down and out of the mother. She had me place the baby on some towels on the mother’s belly as one of the other nurses clamped and cut the umbilical cord.”
Now that’s a spring break story.
Tim was one of five students who joined Nursing Department Chair Kelly Crum and Global Encounters coordinator Brian Trainer on Maranatha’s medical missions team that went to Chad from March 14-26. The purpose of the trip was assist wherever they could at Baptist Hospital and Koumra Medical Center in the city of Koumra.
Fellow team member and senior Stephanie Bridges, who also helped with a delivery while in Chad, said the most powerful emotion she felt before the trip was pure excitement.
“I had never been on a missions trip before, so I did not know what to expect,” Bridges said, “but I was so excited because I had already seen God working before we ever left.”
At the hospital, the team took part in observation, cleaning medical supplies, assisting the doctors, and other duties.
For Bridges, the most difficult part came while she worked in the intensive care unit.
“There were two young boys who had abdominal surgery,” Bridges said. “They were not allowed to have water, but it was so hot outside that they were getting dehydrated. One boy was crying. They don’t have normal saline like we do to keep them hydrated. I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything to help him stop crying.”
But, through the difficulties, the team learned how much they have taken American resources for granted.
“It seems cliché to say that I realize how thankful I should be for things, but I never really got that concept until I went on a missions trip for myself,” Bridges said. I saw how happy the nurses and people there are and how little they have in comparison to me.”
So, in the end, the trip was about more than just helping out a hospital in Africa. It was about learning about the presence and power of God—from safe travel to witnessing the birth of God’s handiwork.
And that is a story worth repeating.
–By Ariel Rosen