Where Cross the Crowded Ways
Words by Franklin Mason North (1903)
This hymn was Reverend Franklin North's response over 100 years ago to living in New York City. The streets teemed with vulnerable immigrants struggling to survive. North was confronted with the dilemma of mustering courage and showing compassion to meet the many needs of crowded, unsettled people groups.
The phrases above evoke a similar composite of images as we reflect on our surgical teams' encounters in Vietnam since 1994. The Ho Chi Minh City area, including Tien Giang and Long An Provinces, grows rapidly. The rural migrants likely will cause this area's population to swell to 20 million people by 2020.
1. Mother with 4 y.o. 2. Woman at Market with Red Checked Head Covering. 3. Seven People on Two Motorcycles. 4. Man with missing eye peddles his wares. 5.Young Woman Pushes Fruit Cart.
In 15 years we recall faces of throngs in this Mekong River region and of hundreds who have received facial surgeries by our teams of 155 members (some repeatedly filling 289 positions). Tender helpless children and those with burns, tumors, fractures, and birth and growth deformities come into focus. We picture their loved ones' sad faces. We see how the stress of fear, sorrow, and exhaustion take their toll on families. And we also remember their joy.
We remain committed to sharing the transforming compassion of Christ as we are able. Please pray we catch the vision of His tears - for courage that knows no recoil and showing genuine loving acts. May they be like cool water for the thirsty, a respite for the weary, and a means to heal the hurting. We trust we can be witnesses to His heavenly touch in their lives. There is no better picture!
On April 1-12 our twenty-third international surgical team will travel to Ho Chi Minh City for the nineteenth time. Our members include:
- Randy Robinson, MD, DDS, Craniomaxillofacial Surgeon, Leader, Centennial, CO
- Michelle Jaskunas, RN, BSN, CNOR, Operating Room Nurse, Denver, CO
- Cindy Niles, RN, Operating Room Nurse, Golden, CO
- Capt. BC Shauver, CRNA, MBA, USNR, Anesthetist, Jacksonville, FL
(Two tours in the medical corps attached with the Marines in Iraq)
- Gabi Stoeger-Stevens, BSN, RN, Recovery Room, Evergreen, CO
(Arriving after two months with a heart surgical team in Cambodia)
- Ginger Robinson, BSN, RN, Liaison/Recovery Room, Centennial, CO
The team will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on April 3. That night we will attend a dinner in our honor by the Health Ministry Officials and area Hospital Directors. In response to this honor Face the Challenge will give a commemorative photo album with our pictures depicting working together to help indigent patients.
Next the team will travel with Dr. Le Thi Viet, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department Director, Odontomaxillofacial Hospital, District 1 (Saigon district). In November 2001 one of our teams traveled in vans to Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan Province. Our joint team will once again go by vans to this fishing community of about 100,000.
We will screen and operate on patients from this region on April 5-7. We anticipate working with Dr. Viet, her small team, and the Phan Thiet hospital staff to perform 40-50 pediatric cleft lip and/or palate surgeries. These patients come from many of the 27 ethnic groups of the region.
Phan Thiet is about 200 miles east of Ho Chi Minh City, situated near Mui Ne Beach and the South China Sea. If curious to see what tropical Phan Thiet is like, you may go to this link and watch a walk through its local market: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mww-ARy-URw . You will see species of harvested fish, nuoc mam (fish sauce), and the various crops of the region including cashews, coffee, mangos, lichees, citrus fruits, bananas, dragon fruit, and rice.
On April 8 we will return to Ho Chi Minh City to screen patients at the National Hospital of Odontostomatology, District 5. (District 5 is the Cholon or Chinese district, comprising 10% of this city's population.) Dr. Lam Hoai Phuong remains the Hospital Director. On April 9-10 we plan to do more complex cases to teach the surgical staff there as we have done since 1994.
We plan to return home late on Easter April 12. We appreciate your support and prayers that God will protect all and use us to heal. "Thus far God has helped us." — I Samuel 7:12
Treading the City Streets Again,
Randy and Ginger
Photo Credits: Ho Chi Minh City Photos: Bradley S. Houston, Photojournalist, FTC Board Member, April 2006
Mother and Daughter Photo: Ginger H. Robinson, FTC President, November 2006
Face the Challenge remains an all-volunteer humanitarian non-profit organization. There are no paid employees. Donations go directly toward surgical efforts.