When Dr. Jerry Putman, wife Marty and daughter Emily arrived in Sierra Leone in January of 2005, everything was not what they expected. It took six months of construction just to get their hospital ready. And even today they are still trying to be accustomed to life in Africa.
"I'm not sure we were really prepared for how hard it is to live in Africa," says Dr. Jerry Putman. "Nothing is easy there. Nothing goes smoothly. Everything is kind of a challenge when it seems it should go easy."
The Putmans left behind a very successful OB/GYN practice in Tyler to answer God's call to work the mission field. Dr. Putman's practice in Sierra Leone is focused on single issue, a condition referred to as V-V-F. The women Dr. Putman treats here have suffered severe complications from child birth, so much so they are incontinent. And in this culture that results in intense shame. Most are abandoned by friends and family.
"When they come to see us for some reason that they don't understand we are offering them not only free care but acceptance and offer them an opportunity to get their life back," says Dr. Putman. "That's been the most impressive thing is just seeing how these ladies realize that there is a God that loves them and a God that has heard their cry even when no one else around that they know is listening. And He's brought hope and help for them."
The Putmans don't like to talk much about how hard life here really is. There is no running water. Electricity is provided on a few hours a day if at all.
Even providing free health care to the area, dangers are everywhere. The family rarely leaves the compound, and when they do they never go alone. But through it all to see God at work in spite of all the circumstances has been enough to sustain this family. The power of prayer they say is at work every day of their lives.
"You see the work building and continuing in spite of the obstacles," says Marty Putman. "It's amazing, because the obstacles are daily. Every single day it's the two steps forward, one step back. But yet we, it was really fun to put together the year ago and then today pictures because we saw definitely, wow, look what He has done. And we got to be a part of it."
"There are a lot of days that you just get up and you say I'm just gonna make it through today. Then when these ladies come in and you're able to operate and just making them dry totally changes their life and you remember again why you are there," says Dr. Putman.
"Probably my favorite day is the day they get their catheter pulled. And they realize for the first time they are dry," says Marty. "And you just, can't get the smile off their faces. That is such and exciting day and they dance around holding up their little dresses."
"I think probably the biggest lesson I have learned is that sometimes God calls us to do things that is not easy but it is definitely worth it," says Dr. Putman. "And the struggles often times are harder than what you have prepared for but I think if you just hang in there and remain faithful then you begin to see the rewards of why He called you there."
**The Putman's, like most missionaries, are dependent on the contributions of supporters to continue their ministry. They are working through Lindale-based Mercy Ships. For more information there is a link on the Power of Prayer page to Mercy Ships.
Saturday, May 18 2013 12:14 AM EDT2013-05-18 04:14:44 GMT
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