Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | May 20, 2018

Medical professionals from SE Iowa return from medical mission trip to Lebanon

Arlo Walljasper spoke about the experience at the Dover Museum in NL Sunday
May 08, 2018
Photo by: Submitted A baby laughs at Arlo Walljasper, of  New London, during his first medical mission trip to Lebanon in June of 2017. A team of 17 medical professionals from Southeast Iowa returned to Lebanon in April to host a medical clinic. Walljasper spoke about the experience at the Dover Museum in New London Sunday, May 6.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Across the Syrian border, a team of 17 medical professionals from Southeast Iowa treated refugees in Zahle, Lebanon during a medical mission trip April 13 to 21.

One of the travelers, New London resident Arlo Walljasper, spoke about his experience to about two dozen audience members at the Dover Museum in New London on Sunday, May 6. Walljasper’s stories of the trip centered around the interactions he had with the locals and how he saw God work through the medical team and parishioners of the Christian church, where they stayed.

During days when the team, consisting of doctors and OB Nurses from Henry County Health Center and Great River Health Systems, along with medical students, hosted a medical clinic, doors opened at 8:30 a.m.

The first day, they saw 145 patients. The second, 188 patients, closing the doors at 11:30 a.m. because they could not treat all the people who were waiting that day. By the fourth day, they were closing the doors as soon as they opened because so many people were already in line to see a doctor.

“It was a bad, sad deal because they hadn’t had a clinic for two months,” Walljasper said.

Patients were first seen by a triage team on the first floor of the church. From there, they were sent upstairs to a waiting area with six tables where they were further interviewed to see what they needed to see the doctor about.

One man Walljasper treated came in with severe chest pains and trouble breathing. An EKG showed he was having a heart attack and had a blocked artery. They immediately treated him by having him chew aspirin and were able to prescribe him more medicine from there.

After resting for a couple hours, Walljasper said, “He walked out of there the happiest man and hugged every single one of us on the way out.”

Off to the side on the balcony was the children’s area, where in the mornings as the sun came up before patients were lined up at the door Walljasper would sit and do his daily devotions, which was “just heavenly,” he said.

While Lebanon is 1/10th the size of Iowa, Walljasper said it is hosting 1 million Syrian refugees. From that balcony, Walljasper could look across the border of Lebanon into Syria. He could also see the tent cities where refugees were living with barely walking room between dwellings.

Walljasper said one man they helped was so scared of what would happen to him or to his children with the conflict in Syria that he begged the team to take the two children back with them to the U.S. This is the fear that exists right now.

This wasn’t Walljasper’s first medical clinic in Lebanon. In fact, he had served there just a year ago and noticed the changes that had taken place over just the past few months.

“I felt last year there was going to be a huge revival in this country, and I felt it this year even stronger,” Walljasper said. “It’s all God’s work.”

While the majority of patients walking through the clinic doors were Muslim, Walljasper said that this year the team decided everyone should be prayed for. Muslims pray a lot, he said, and they didn’t seem to mind that it was Christians praying over them as long as they were prayed with. He even said many went home with Bibles, eager to learn more.

Lebanon is known as a melting pot of religions, and while there is freedom of religion, Walljasper said it means a lot when someone of Muslim faith gives their life to Christ. Even with religious freedom, many converts are cast out from their families when they choose Christianity. If they were in other countries, they could even be killed for their faith, Walljasper said.

Despite it all, the church is growing. Walljasper said last year the worship service they attended at the church had about 60 empty seats. This year, there were people spilling out into the aisles. “The Lord is working over there,” he said.

In addition to bringing their medical expertise, the team brought three suitcases full of toy cars made by a retired New London man and knitted blankets for the babies.

They also experienced the local cuisine, which came in nine to 10 course meals. “When you’re stuffed to the eyebrows, they start bringing you your main entrees,” Walljasper said.

Every midmorning, the cook brought the team Turkish coffee, which Walljasper said is just like espresso in the U.S. “You could just about cut it with a knife, but it did pick up our energy,” he said with a chuckle.

Between medical clinics and being served delicious Lebanese delicacies, Walljasper spoke about the ways the team prayed for the church and the pastor of the church where they were staying. Walljasper said the pastor is under a lot of stress because the Muslim people are trying to get rid of him. Even as the church continues to grow, people consistently leave — becoming Christians to be dispatched by God to other parts of the world.

“People come to know the Lord and then they get called elsewhere,” Walljasper said. “The bold enough go back to Syria to share their faith.”

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