All posts by Tyler Paulson

Joe’s 1st Blog

Greetings to everyone reading this!  My name is Joe Lazar, and I live in New York City (when I’m not living in Tonj, Sudan).  I am working here with my twin brother John for about a month during our break between our first and second years of medical school.  John and I are working in the clinic, seeing many patients each day.  Our work in the clinic is rewarding in so many ways.  I’m really amazed at the magnitude of the service that we’re providing for those that come in to see us.  We see between 50 and 100-some patients each day, almost none of whom would have access to medical care otherwise.  What’s really stood out to me is how basic the patients’ needs are.  For the most part, we’re not treating very complex, puzzling diseases; rather, we see things like infections, wounds, basic (but potentially dangerous) GI problems.  This is the perfect setting for a couple of first year medical students like us because we can assist meaningfully around the clinic even without the years of learning that lie ahead of each of us.  I’ve already learned so much during my brief time here (in American medical schools, student’s do not see very much in terms of clinical practice until their 3rd year), so I can tell that this experience will be an invaluable part of my education.  In general, life in the clinic has been exactly what I had hoped it would be: a chance to serve God through caring for others and a chance to learn more about medicine so that I can be a better student and ultimately a more sensitive physician in the future.

Today was a great day in terms of weather (for those of us not from Sudan).  To the Sudanese here, the day seemed more like a blizzard.  The temperature during the morning and early afternoon peaked at about 75 degrees Farenheit (about 27 degrees C based on my crude back-of-the-envelope calculation).  This was the first day that I felt comfortable—not hot and sweaty—in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  Some of the Sudanese in the clinic, though, were dressed as though they were going skiing.  There were lots of winter hats and coats.  We even saw one young boy dressed in an entire ski suit.  It was an amusing illustration of how the human body can adapt to different environments.  I—and I think most of the new volunteers here—are waiting for the day that our bodies are a bit more adapted to a climate whose heat we are not yet used to.

We concluded the day by watching a moving as a big group.  The volunteers, Sabet and Suzy’s family, clinical staff, and housekeeping staff piled into the dining hall here to watch the children’s movie “Cool Runnings” that tells the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team.  I looked around the dining hall where we were watching several times during the movie and thought to myself, “what a funny little family we make up here”.  There were children playing on the furniture, a few people reading or writing in journals, lots of us shoveling handfuls of popcorn into our mouths, and all this in a village in South Sudan.  It was a wonderful and light-hearted reminder of how special it is that we all came from different places in the world and from different walks of life to do the same thing: to serve God by serving others.  I went to sleep happy of this reminder of how unified we all really are in the world.

A Day of Rest

My first Sunday in Sudan… I did not know what to expect.  I had been asked a few days ago to help Suzy with the children in Sunday school since I will be teaching next week.  I was looking forward to it, but was also somewhat disappointed to find out that I could not hear Sabet teach.  I have only heard him speak one time 2 years ago.  That was when I knew I wanted to come serve at In Deed and Truth, but I never thought I would be helping teach Sunday school with his wife here in Sudan.

It sprinkled a little this morning, which often keeps people indoors due to the lack of cars here.  Anywhere from 5-50 children were expected.  The rain did little to keep them away, praise the Lord!  Around 40 children arrived to hear the story of Jesus healing Jerus’ daughter.  We then did crafts and sang songs, like any typical Sunday school.  But something was special about this one…I was in Africa!  The looks of the kids’ faces were priceless.  It was as if they had never seen a white person.  I felt bad, thinking that my presence was keeping the children distracted from the lesson.  I just pray now that that was not so, that something that was said or sung sunk deeper into their hearts and minds.

After church was a much anticipated picnic.  We had been told that we would go to a cooler place under a nice big tree, but I never expected it to be as cool as it was.  We set up our blankets, tables, and chairs and enjoyed a nice afternoon in the middle of the “swamp” (flat land with few trees).  It was so relaxing.  I had found myself becoming tense throughout the week when I would spend time in the clinic, so this calm afternoon was much needed.  I was even surprised as how quickly I had become used to the sounds of the compound and only noticed in their absence.  Serenity.  I was reminded of a verse that I read recently.  Psalm 12:5 “‘Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,’ says the Lord. ‘I will place him in the safety for which he longs.’”  Being in that “swamp” on our picnic was exactly like that:  God had placed me in a state of safety far greater than I realized I longed for.   He knew our need for rest and fulfilled it.  It was a day a rest that I will not forget for a long time.  Calm.  Restful.


John’s 1st Blog

Greetings from Tonj.  My name is John Lazar, and over the next few weeks, you will be meeting the members of the latest team here, among them students, midwives, and my identical twin brother Joe.  We have all taken different paths to get here, and now that we have arrived, we are using our different gifts to the best of our ability to lend hands around the clinic.  And there is no shortage of work to be done, that’s for sure!

Today is Saturday, our first day of rest since arriving on Tuesday.  Each day has brought with it insights, lessons, and terrific surprises.  Today, I was impressed most with the sheer variety of places we can help around the clinic.  As I said, it was a day of rest, and  I mean this in a relative sense.  We were at work in the morning, and the afternoon held some more fun activities.

I came here after completing my first year in medical school, and have been working pretty exclusively in the clinic during the week.  But today I was able to get my fill in all the other work that goes on here on a daily basis.  Many of us began by helping with the construction of the new clinic.  Only a frame stands right now, but already I can imagine this new building being so much larger than the clinic we have been using.  It will be exciting to see this project come along little by little each day.  After a few hours on the site, there were repeated patients in the clinic, which is closed on weekends to everything but emergencies.  So the clinic, together with the construction site, was hot with activity on this Saturday morning.  Following lunch, we got some down time, but later in the afternoon we went into Tonj to have some fun and do some advertising for the next day’s event: a screening of the World Cup in the local Church.  We obtained a projector and satellite dish, and have been planning an event to promote a feeling of community and entertainment.  How did we advertise, you might ask.  By heading to the soccer field and playing soccer with the local children, and passed on the news about the World Cup.  Even getting on with duties is fun here.

I’ve come to understand that there is aaaaalways things to be done here, and there’s a job for all of us to do.  And today was a fun opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the other goings-on outside of the clinic itself.  It is a really dynamic and growing place I’m blessed to call home for the next month.  Thanks for reading, and see you next Saturday.

Outreach to Malony

This is Daniel writing on June 24. Today I went with half of the medical clinic staff to a village 45 minutes outside Tonj called Malony.  There has been a lot of construction in the last couple years, and we were able to drive 2/3 of the way on a paved dirt road.  We had to off-road the last third to the village.

This was the first time we had ever done an outreach in this village, even though our government-paid security guard lives in it.  His name is Dut, and he is quite silly and very fun.  I worked in the pharmacy again.  I also was able to share the gospel using an “evangecube” which was translated into Dinka.  A surprising number of children and adults knew some English—even enough for a complete conversation.  I made friends with a boy named Michael and with the headmaster Barnaba.  Barnaba took to liking me, and offered to pay 50 cows for the dowry of my first Sudanese wife.  He said, “you will stay here, and you will become Sudan.”  He was very kind, and very thankful to have me share the gospel with the children and adults.  Michael asked me for my Christian name, and I told him it is “Daniel.”  Then I shared the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the children really enjoyed it; especially the part when God shuts the lions’ mouths.

It eventually began raining and we had to close the clinic.  But we had a puncture in one of the vehicle tires and had to wait for Sebit and our driver to be fixed.  There was a portable metal room at the village that In Deed and Truth had brought a few months ago to use as a temporary medical facility, and we took shelter in it.  A Sudanese mother and her children joined us inside for the hour we had to wait.  She had a delightful young girl perhaps 3 years old.  While sitting in a chair I held out my hand to her and she came close to stand by my legs and eventually hug them.  But she soon began reaching up to climb into my lap, so I picked her up and played with her for a while.  She was very calm, and she eventually fell asleep in my arms for a half hour.  I had much of that time to pray for her.  She will likely grow up and not remember me, but I was happy to pray that she grows up to know her heavenly Father’s embrace as she today knew mine.

It is very hard to believe I had been here only two full days.