With all your might

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV)

The longer we are at Koza Adventist Hospital in Cameroon, the more the job description of my husband, Greg Shank, LLUSM class of 1999–besides surgeon and hospital director–expands. For instance, when a 35-year-old man comes to the hospital with a painful inguinal hernia, my husband is a general surgeon. But when a pregnant woman comes in need of a cesarean section, he is an obstetrician and gynecologist. And, when, during the cesarean section, the baby refuses to breathe, he is a neonatologist.

When a 5 year old comes in with a skull fracture after an accident, he is both neurologist and neurosurgeon. And later, when Bouba, an 18-year-old boy, comes in after being stabbed through the diaphragm for calling his cousin a donkey stealer, he is first a cardiothoracic surgeon and then a pulmonologist.

A 70-year-old man comes in with a huge prostate and the inability to urinate, and my husband becomes a urologist. But when a 6 month old comes in with severe anemia from malaria, he is a pediatrician. And then, when a 45 year old comes in with hypertension and irregular heartbeat, he is a cardiologist/ internist.

If a 45-year-old woman comes in with advanced breast cancer, he is both surgeon and oncologist. Or, if the minister of health comes to the hospital to discuss how to prevent another meningitis epidemic, he is a specialist in preventive medicine. A 2 year old, who weighs only nine pounds, comes in, and my husband becomes a dietician. When our medication is running low, he is pharmacist. And when a 20 year old comes in with renal failure and our lab tech is away at a meeting, he is a laboratory technician.

But not all the hats he wears are medical. When there are employee disputes, financial difficulties, fist fights between nurses and patients, theft of money and medications, committee meetings, difficulties with the police and army, and new nurses to hire, he is again the hospital director. (He is often also a psychologist/ counselor in these situations.) When one of our maintenance men was having problems with his girlfriend, he gave advice and support and acted as surrogate father. When asked to preach, he is preacher (much outside his comfort zone).

It seems the tasks never end. When the metal grate covering the windows is sawed off by a thief and needs to be repaired, he is a welder. When the roof is blowing off in the high winds, he is a roofer. When we suspect that someone has been breaking into one of the houses on the compound, he is the “assistant’ guard (armed with machete).

When the sink springs a leak, he is a plumber (even when it is fixed with an old bike inner tube). And just before a replacement doctor is due to show up at our house, and the toilet isn’t working because the septic tank is full, and my husband’s out there manually scooping out fifteen years worth of waste, what would you call that? I call him a saint.

At the end of the day, he comes home and is the spiritual leader of our home and the best father and husband anyone could dream of. Please pray for Greg and the many hats that he wears. It is a very difficult position that he holds, but God is supporting him moment by moment, day by day.

– Audrey Shank, LLUSM class of 2001