Today we returned to the general area of Thambalagamuwa, but another 15 or 10 minutes further up the road, at the home of one of the members of the church.
As always, people were already waiting well ahead of the clinic start time. As the day continued, people kept arriving via foot,
motorcycle, tuk tuk, and motor scooter, and waited patiently in the
shade of the trees and patio in our host's yard.
Totals exceeded what was expected to be a short day. In 4 hours & 50 minutes active working time, we gave:
148 total eye exams &
128 pairs of eye glasses.
That's 148 distinct individuals who thought it worth their time to wait, sometimes hours, for a basic eye exam, in hopes of receiving help for vision impairment. And that's 148 people of differing religions and backgrounds who received time and personal attention and care from our team - including our host family, two local pastors, and one pastor's wife - who all agreed it is a privilege to be a tangible & useful expression of how Jesus loves.
Please be encouraged right where you are: You don't have to travel away from home to be used
by God to show His love. It doesn't have to be the biggest or the most lavish anything - you just have to look, and God will help you see a genuine need you have the ability to fill.
In case you wondered at the difference between the numbers of eye exams and distributed glasses, there are varied reasons some people do not receive eyeglasses at these clinics.
The best scenario is when they have perfect vision. Other reasons are typically for situations we cannot cover: different prescriptions in each eye, cataracts, glaucoma, injury to the eye, or extreme prescriptions strengths.
After we'd finished the last exam and packed up our gear, our gracious hosts served tea in a traditional village manner, with chunks of hakuru or jaggery, a raw sweetener made from reduced kithul palm tree sap - you take a small bite of the hakuru then a sip of tea - yum!
On our return journey, we again debarked to portage at a very deep and rough section of the road. The little van has been impressive on its inaugural road trip with 5 adults and eye clinic luggage, but this would have been asking too much.
Once back in Trincomalee, we refueled with dinner at Trinco Lanka Seafood Restaurant, owned by friends of the local pastor - amazing fresh seafood! In a show of sisterly love, I gladly gave up my shrimp heads for Gary to enjoy.
Tomorrow we return to the same home for morning church service, and then continue our 6-ish hour drive back to Moratuwa.
This is a perfect illustration of the contrast in both geography and population between my home state of Montana and the nation of Sri Lanka. On developed roads in Sri Lanka (population: just under 21 million), with villages and towns peppered along many segments, the 6-ish hours covers about 270 km, or 168 miles.
In Montana (population: just over 1 million, in a land mass almost 6 times that of Sri Lanka) the drive of 165 miles from Kalispell to Drummond will take just under 3 hours, through mountain & lakeside communities. You may see a few cows, deer, elk, bear - but not an abundance of three-wheel tuk-tuks. (Note: Click the text links for more information.)