One of the biggest and most important lessons that you better learn swiftly when living in West Africa is to be flexible. Most days I do a pretty good job of embracing the WAWA (West Africa Wins Again) moments, but some days it is just too much. I love that God is over the WAWA moments and if we are looking we can see His blessings in the times that may not be going the way that we thought they would. Over the last week my personal bandwidth, the energy or mental capacity to deal with a situation has definitely been tested and a big test has been the internet network’s bandwidth.
A few days ago, the “plan” was to work in the clinic until about 1:30 or 2pm and then swiftly jump in the car, head to the ferry and arrive at the guesthouse before dark. Well, the night before what would be a long day I was up until after 11pm with medical emergencies and when my alarm went off at 5am my bandwidth was already low, I was tired. Off to the clinic at 7am and within 30 minutes I knew this was going to be a crazy, busy, long and exhausting day. I rolled with what the Lord gave us, had some great opportunities to pray with patient’s in the name of Jesus in the busyness and just kept on going. It was all a blur and I really don’t know how we got through all the patients, but we did finish clinic about 3pm and I headed to the ferry with a coke in my hand for a caffeine hit still hoping to arrive before dark. And then, I waited and waited and waited. The longer I waited and the more ferries I saw come and go without me on them the lower and lower my bandwidth got and I was getting pretty cranky. Eventually they waived me on to the ferry, I parked the car on the boat, took a deep breath and finally looked up and saw this amazing sunset. In that moment the Lord shifted my perspective and I just started giving Him thanks. Remember, my goal was to arrive at the guesthouse before dark and if you are on the boat at sunset that won’t happen so I took a deep breath and embraced that. I also got my internet streaming and started loudly worshipping the Lord with tears streaming down my face, He was taking care of me and guiding me in this frustrating to me experience. Check out this video to hear the song that I had on repeat. I safely arrived at the guesthouse after a quick stop for dinner where my bandwidth was near zero and plummeted when the fried chicken restaurant said it would be 2 hours until they had any chicken!!!!! However, they did have fried shrimp and it was yummy. After waking up at 5am, working all day and then tackling the ferry I arrived to our wonderful guesthouse and a nice shower with AC at 8:30 pm. My wise teammates knew my bandwidth would be low so they had the house all ready for me which was a blessing.
After a great night’s sleep at the guesthouse the meetings began and everything went well, praise God. I had taken an extra two days in the city to spend hours doing online Continuing Medical Education to maintain my Physician Assistant license. It is easier to do CME here as the internet is better, there are much fewer interruptions and I can chill in the AC while I watch the teachings which is pretty nice. My “plan” was to spend two days watching an online conference for 10 hours each day. The internet had been a little slow on the days leading up to my CME days, but it was manageable and I had come prepared with two different internet routers in case there were issues and we have internet at the guesthouse so I had three options. I awoke at 7am on the morning of day 1 of CME to zero internet! When I say zero, I mean no cell phone service, no signal from the two routers I had brought with me and oh yeah the internet at the guesthouse had been struck by lightning and not repaired yet. I took a deep breath and kept on trying and trying and trying without success. Now what???? We have 2 main internet providers and my prayer was that only one of them was completely down. Our guesthouse managers have the other company and they allowed me to try theirs. I placed myself on their front porch in the beating sun with my laptop (and all the other devices to see if maybe my phone or tablet connected better), a fan and a big glass of water. After 30 minutes of trying this it was very clear that this was not going to work. I wish I could say I stopped and prayed, I did stay fairly calm but needed to get moving as the clock was ticking. The biggest advantage to our cellular based internet is that it is portable, so that meant I jumped in the car with 2 of the internet routers and started to drive and see if I could find a place where there was internet bandwidth. There are two places I know with free internet, but one was closed and the other likely had the same internet company I did so was unlikely to have any connection. My team leader said she had internet at her house and I could come over, so I went and spent several hours watching the online teachings on her internet, but eventually I needed to go home. At this point I really did not have a lot of options since my internet was still completely off. I reluctantly and with a little attitude since my bandwidth was almost as low as that of the internet by now went to the other internet’s store and purchased internet from them, $30 for 2 days but at that point I did not care because at least I had something that worked. Back to the guesthouse and streamed teachings until 9pm on day #1 and awoke on day #2 with great internet bandwidth on 3 internet routers (both companies) as well as decent Alison bandwidth that improved with a cup of coffee and some prayer! Praying that all of you have good internet bandwidth and more importantly personal and God reliant bandwidth today.