Sunday Morning ~ Mzuzu
December 24, 2017
It’s hot. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s Christmas Eve. At early mass this morning the fourth advent candle was lit, simple white candles on a purple cloth. The drummers played and the choir sang and none of the music gave any indication that the season was any different from others in the liturgical year.
It feels good to be on vacation. Even though we got away last weekend, I had two stressful twelve hour days of testing students this week and I couldn’t wait to leave. I hate the way we evaluate students. It’s exhausting and anxiety producing. My nine clinical students in postnatal had to identify a willing mother and do a complete postnatal exam on her and a neonatal exam on the baby while two of us watch and grade a hundred aspects of the exam. The students are all so nervous they tremble, and each one takes two hours. We did five on Tuesday and four on Wednesday and barely fit it all in. It’s exhausting for me and I have to struggle to pay attention, especially when they are doing all the health teaching. I don’t mind working long hours, but when I don’t feel like what I am doing is useful, I get home feeling terrible. I’m lenient with the grading and I don’t know if that’s okay. My colleagues are so hard on the students and I think I’m feeling PTSD from my nursing school experience and want to cut them some slack. But I don’t know if it’s right to do that. I hate that the mothers have to sit around and wait for so long to get examined. One fell asleep during the health teaching and the student turned to me and asked, “What should I do now, madam? She is asleep.” The poor student was afraid I’d take points off since she hadn’t gotten through all the required topics. The poor mother had been awake for two days. It was crazy. The only upside to that experience was that for two hours, nine mothers and nine babies got picture perfect care. I told the students that if all women were treated that well, this country would be a much different place for them to live.
At the postnatal clinic the health education included a song on family planning. The lyrics were, and I swear this is true, “Men run away from responsibility. If you have many children, men will run away from them, So you should get family planning.” The students were dancing and clapping and singing their hearts out and I thought the song was about the joy of motherhood or something. I’d never seen them be so animated. When I asked them to translate the lyrics for me, I thought they were joking. But no, they were serious. I tell you, it was a bright spot in my week. I took a video and asked everyone’s permission to post it to Facebook. I tried to do that before I left, but it wouldn’t post for some reason. I’ll try and see if this coffee shop has fast enough wifi and give it another try. I’ve only got an hour of internet and it’s running out so I’m not going to write much more.
We’re heading to the Nyika Plateau tomorrow to camp for a few nights where it’s cool. It was where we spent Christmas the two years I was here as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m anxious to see if it’s still as magical as it was back then. I wonder what thirty eight years has done both to the landscape and my perception.
Fr Richard, the White Father missionary priest I knew from those days was the one saying mass this morning. This is his 50th anniversary of priesthood. His sermon was about how a seed has to give up it’s existence to create something more beautiful. It was a lovely thought to hold on to in these times.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Wishing you peace.
Love to all,